Emotional Milestones After Aphasia
We’re wrapping up our discussion of Kelly and Brad Marsh’s new book, Love Stroke with a question about closure. Aphasia after a stroke sometimes comes with improvement through speech therapy. Towards the end of the book, Kelly moves through several milestones she wanted to reach in order to feel like a new version of her old self.
Cooking Dinner Milestone
Kelly sets out to make a familiar meal in order to return to preparing her own food. She writes on page 133, “One day I decided to make lasagna for Brad. It was another step on the road to feeling normal — doing something as simple as making a meal I had cooked dozens of times before.”
The task took longer than it had in the past and she dropped the pan on the way to the oven, but she did it! Okay, so they didn’t have lasagna for dinner, but the point is that getting back to the small tasks is important. Those moments we barely notice in a normal day suddenly become milestones to reach after a challenge. Making the meal was a big step. Even if it didn’t reach the table, it was a starting point for New Kelly to reclaim the Old Kelly.
Attending Events Milestone
Her next milestone was going to a basketball game with another couple. Not only did she have to navigate a conversation in a loud, chaotic space, but she needed to walk many steps to make it to her seat. She made it down to the court with careful concentration. She writes about this moment on page 136, “Being able to relax and enjoy myself in the company of friends and fellow fans was certainly a victory for me.”
Kelly also entered the 1K Step for Stroke, a fundraising walk that forced her to commit to her therapy to train. It was a cold, grey day, but she felt joy as she checked off another task. She committed to a physical activity and reached her goal; a literal finish line. Old Kelly wanted to run a marathon, but she merged that old goal with her new self and came up with the 1K.
The Travel Milestone
Kelly’s first trip after the stroke was going to a familiar place; visiting her parents in Florida. Navigating airport security and getting to the gate were both challenges Kelly and Brad got through together. Moving through all the legs of that journey took a lot of courage, and getting through it gave her confidence to reach for other milestones in the future. She says on page 137, “I had checked another first off my list. I could travel again.”
The International Milestone
But Kelly didn’t stop with Florida. Her next trip was somewhere unfamiliar and out of the country. They celebrated their fifth anniversary in Mexico. She writes on page 156,
We stayed at a beautiful all-inclusive resort, in a great room, and we spent time by the pool and at the beach and ate in the resort restaurants. It was like getting a little piece of my old life back.
These are the moments where the two sides of Kelly meld together — before and after. Before the stroke and after with aphasia. She is hitting emotional milestones, which are just as important as reaching the physical ones.
Can you point to a moment where the new you felt like you were getting a piece of your old life back?
Image: Clem Onojeghuo via Unsplash
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