My Journey with Aphasia
My story began on 29 April 2002. I had just returned home from giving a speech at the Department of Commerce on US/Russian Business Relations. At around 9:00pm I felt ill and passed out in my office. When I awoke, I made my way upstairs and woke my partner who called 911. When the fire brigade and ambulance arrived, I was conscious and aware of what was happening. I was taken to a local hospital that is much smaller than the big INOVA Hospital in Fairfax.
I was admitted around 10:00pm and it was not until around 6:00am that they discovered I had had an aortal aneurysm. Once diagnosed I was flown by helicopter to the main hospital in Fairfax where I underwent immediate surgery lasting 7 and a half hours. It was during my recovery that they discovered that I had also had a stroke which left me paralyzed and suffering from Aphasia and Apraxia and today, over 12 years later, my speech has improved somewhat but it is still a daily struggle. Fortunately, I recovered fully from the paralysis so I have been able to continue my exercise and normal routine.
During my initial speech therapy here in Fairfax, I was informed of the Aphasia Program conducted at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Over a period of 12 months, I attended their speech program, which was over a period of 6 weeks, on three occasions. It was during my time in this program that I discussed the idea of making CDs that had simple words to practice along with another that showed the mouth movement to help make sounds; these were very helpful to me and the program asked for many copies and were giving them to patients who might benefit from them. Also, I advertised the CDs at a cost of $5 for a CD and $20 for a VHS tape. There was a lot of interest and, even today, I receive orders now and then.
It was also during the program that I learned a lot about the work The National Aphasia Association was doing and participated in a number of the yearly workshops they organized. As a result of these meetings, I continued to widen my circle of friends who were also stroke survivors and had been left with different challenges.
I believe it was in 2004 that I became involved with the Stroke Comeback Center, a group formed to bring aphasia and apraxia patients together. This was very rewarding for me and I spent a lot of time helping survivors to use technology to help them with their communications; I rely on my I-Phone and computer to help me communicate. In 2009, if my memory serves me correctly, the facility used by the Stroke Comeback Center was no longer large enough for the many survivors so they looked for a new location to buy and I was happy to donate $100,000.00 towards the cost.
At a National Aphasia meeting, I met Harvey Alter who was also a stroke survivor and was able to overcome his Aphasia by singing; you would not know that unless he told you that he was actually singing! We formed a quick friendship which, sadly, did not last. Anyway, in 2007, Harvey and I went on a trip to Australia to tell our respective stories to various stroke support groups in each of the States; the trip lasted about 6 weeks. It was a great experience and we met many interesting people and took part in TV interviews and news stories.
Today, I am not too involved in the support groups that surround me as getting around is a little more difficult for me due to blood circulation issues but I work hard every day to continue to expand my speech.
Finally, the link below tells Winston
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