1. The off switch.
Like so many strokes, my stroke had no warning. It came on during the early morning and progressed fast. By the time I had alerted my husband that something was wrong, I had lost the power of speech. But the worst thing about aphasia is not “being unable to speak” but being unable to speak suddenly. Aphasia is like an on/off switch. One day I could laugh and talk, the next moment I couldn’t say a single word. This sudden loss was far worse than not being able to walk. What was so quickly taken away from me became a torturous job of small steps to regain my speech.
2. Stuck on a word.
3. Speaking of numbers.
4. Making a choice.
It’s well known that people with aphasia often say yes when they mean no, and the other way around. This yes/no confusion usually resolves itself quickly, as it did with me. But in my case, I was left with several other similar problems. For example, I still have an issue with he/she and him/her. I know the difference between them; I know which one is correct; but I have to say them both out loud and then pick the right one by ear. I also still have to make the rounds with saying would/should/was/were. Sometimes I have cycle around again until I settle on the right one.
5. Out on a cliff.
My aphasia has gotten a lot better over the years but it still rears its ugly head, oftentimes in mid-sentence. It’s as if I am driving down a highway, the words are flowing by, and then BAM, I screech to a halt, looking out into a hazy distance over an edge, not being able to go forward, to finish my sentence or express my thought that is still so clear in my mind. This makes me repeat the start of the sentence over and over until the ending comes back to me.
6. Too small to be noticed.
7. At a loss ... for idioms.
These 7 things – and much more – make up the world of a person with aphasia. In time, my aphasia has largely gone away. Some people are not so lucky. But all people with aphasia – no matter how severe – have to constantly strive to make themselves heard, to communicate, and to reach out to other people. And you can do your part by being there to listen to us.