on the job

Leaving a Job After Aphasia

In Kelly and Brad Marsh’s new book, Love Stroke, Kelly tells a moving story about leaving a much-loved job once she realizes she will not be able to do the work any time soon. Kelly outlines her experience from realization to retirement.

We’re talking today about work and aphasia in this latest installment of our online book club.

on the job

Work as Motivation

Kelly admits it took time to see that she wouldn’t be returning to her job in communications. She used returning to work as a motivation for getting better. On page 128, she explained her mindset:

At the beginning of November 2009, just more than two months after my stroke, I thought, I need to do all this therapy so I can go back to work. I need to really focus on this, and in a month, I’ll be fine.

A few months after that, she realized it was time to pack up her desk. Having her job lingering in the background was giving her more anxiety than comfort.

Saying Goodbye to a Career

While packing up her office was hard, she immediately felt relief. On page 129 she writes,

Almost immediately, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. The decision was one of the hardest I’ve ever had to make, but the feeling of relief that washed over me once I said it out loud proved to me that it was the right choice.

Of course that relief was mixed with fears over finances and sadness about co-workers left behind. But she knew the way to one day have another job was to commit herself fully to therapy rather than worrying about accomplishing everything at once.

Her Own Timeline

She also expressed her gratitude toward her workplace, which clearly cares about its employees. They were willing to hold her job longer, a rare gesture experienced by those with aphasia. Kelly was able to end things on her terms rather than having the ending foisted upon her by the employer. She admits on page 130:

I will be forever grateful that not a single one of them, including Cathy, told me that hard truth during those early months of struggle. I guess they could see how important it was for me to believe that I would make it back to the office.

Wrapping Up Job Thoughts

Many people will not have the same experience as Kelly. They will not have an understanding supervisor who holds their job or caring co-workers that reach out through recovery. We’d like to hear your experience with work after aphasia.

Image: Dusk Photography via Flickr via Creative Commons license



  • Kelly truett
    June 15, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    I had a tbi aug 1st. 2009. I have cognitive issues, so aphasia fits in my results from accident. I still have fluent speech, but can forget a word or repeat something i already said. I worked at u of m for 30 years, i was only 46 years old and had to say goodbye and be on disability. I volunteer at my church, but u miss a large part of my identity too soon. My daughter is going to be a hs senior next year and she will be off to college, i will be alone, my ex husband of my children died in an accident in 2010. Around some people or certain days i dont lose to many words im searching for, but on others, even with my close family im a mess.

  • T.J.R.
    June 15, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    I had a similar experience to Kelly. I had a 25-year career as a legal assistant at a top level law firm. I loved my job and it paid very well. In 2009-2010, I had several small strokes that caused me to have aphasia. I had anxiety and panic attacks every time someone asked me about my strokes or about returning to my job. The law firm kept my job open to me for 1 year, but I knew I couldn’t go back to that stressful job with the aphasia I was experiencing every day. I applied for Social Security Disability, which was approved, and “officially” left my job. After I packed up my office and made it official, I felt so much better. Panic attacks started to subside. As it turned out, my first grandbaby was born in 2011. Because I was job-free, I was able to babysit for him for most of his first couple of years. I believe everything turns out as it should. I just wanted to share since my story was similar.

  • Maureen
    June 21, 2017 at 5:45 am

    I had stroke 9. Month ago. I have Aphasia. ii went back to work after 2 months after one day week. And now 2 days a week . I was thinking on retiring before my stoke . I didn’t want to retire because I Had. Stroke . I have had amazing support from my employer my boss and colleagues . going back to work was important to me and helped me in many ways.

    In 2 months I will retire

  • Yvette Arredondo
    June 23, 2017 at 2:21 am

    I had a stroke 5 years ago, I just wanted to get back to wok as soon as possible. 23 years in the same communications department and I was stuck at mt my desk not able to remember what to do. Luckily my boss was able to move me into another position of being position. I was able to still be a productive part of a company I loved. Then the company sold and my position was eliminated, thanks to automation. Now I finding difficult to even put a resume together or get a call after submitting applications. It’s incredibly hard to retain information I read. My future is unknown now. I have to be reassessed by EDD rehabilitation. My appointment is mid July, wish me luck!

  • Kathryn Hajek
    May 17, 2018 at 1:46 am

    Please help me! I had a stroke a year. I also have aphasia. It is horrible. I go back and forth to trying to figure out somewhere or not figuring any thing at all. Plus on top of that, lots of other problems to. But my SSA keeps denying it. Please help!!!

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