Most people with aphasia can pinpoint an anniversary date: the day their life changed. Maybe it was a stroke that altered the ability to communicate. Or an aneurysm that changed your speech patterns. Maybe instead of an event it was the diagnosis of Primary Progressive Aphasia that gave a name to the loss of words. In any case, most people can point towards a specific day on the calendar.
The question is how do you mark that anniversary?
In Love Stroke, Kelly Marsh uses the anniversary of her stroke to measure how far she has come. She takes the day to reflect back on the changes that have occurred, both those that reclaim her old life as well as new facets to her personality. She refers to herself after her stroke as Kelly 2.0, and Kelly 1.0 definitely has an end date just as Kelly 2.0 has a start date.
Sarah Scott makes videos close to the anniversary of her stroke in order to chart her world following that life-changing event. You can go through her video archives on YouTube to see other years, but this is the one for the sixth year following her stroke at 18.
In A Stitch of Time, Lauren Marks talks about wanting to mark the day as her second birthday when speaking to her boyfriend on page 62. She explains that she now has two birthdays following her aneurysm, but her boyfriend is dismissive of this idea.
The Girl I Used to Be was born on a summer day, twenty-seven years ago, and I felt no attachment whatsoever to that occasion, that other life. So I tried to explain to Jonah that August 24 was much more my birthday than June 19.
She abandons the point during this conversation because she’s unable to explain how much she has changed. But in Lauren’s world, her new brain equals a new life. A rebirth.
Others may recognize the day but feel sad about it. It is just as valid to focus on the loss of the old life as it is to focus on the birth of the new life. For some people, the day may feel more akin to remembering someone on their death date each year.
Do you mark the day that your aphasia began?
Image: Eric Rothermel via Unsplash