First talk

an outline of my first talk, given in 2010 to students in the “Communicative Disorders” class at University of California, San Diego.
My name is David, and I wasn’t always like this.
  • I was a tech-nical writer for a software company
  • I was articulate, loved languages. I was compiling a book about English 
  • I exercised regularly, didn’t smoke, had good cholesterol, wasn’t overweight, had no history of strokes is my family
  • But that didn’t help me.
March 7, 2008, 5am, a clot (ischemic [is-key-mick] stroke) as opposed to Don’s type (hemorrha-gic stroke), hitting the left side of my brain, shown here as a white spot

As a result...
  • Right side was paralyzed & couldn’t speak; 
  • profound and devastating 
  • I went to Palomar Hospital and was in in-ten-sive care for 1 wk, and in the acute rehab floor for 3 wks
  • Often said yes instead of no. I have often thought about this...why? was I stupid? I simply did not understand what was being asked of me.
Back then, I figured this wasn’t permanent, that soon I would snap out of it.

1 year later... I was still quiet – except in my head
My arm still was not working. this led to shoulder problems.
Also affected my spelling and my composing sentences (left out little words). like he/she, will/would/should, in/of,  have/go.
My speech was very slow, and very labor-i-ous, because I had the terrible tril-ogy of speech disabilities:

Aphasia: expressive aphasia (knowing what you want to say but not being able to come up with the words. it’s like every word you say it on the tip of your tongue

This is usual when a stroke hits the Broca area opposed to the Wernicke area

my saving grace was I could say automatic words (one, two, three) and if a person said a word first, I could usually repeat it, except when the 2nd problem kicked it.

Strategy: If I could hear the word in my head, it improved the chances of my actually saying it. But not always, due to #2, apraxia...

Apraxia of speech: (knowing the words but not being able to remember how to say them) my mouth no longer could form the words even though I knew what I say

motor problem; you can see my mouth trying to produce a word, over and over – experimenting with different ways
Strategy: tapping out the word, helps me
if I could get past the aphasia and the apraxia, there was one last hurdle to get over: dysarthia

Dysarthia (knowing how to say the words but not being able to say them due to muscle weakness or muscles no longer working as they should). this is why is voice is no longer as it was.

2 ½ years later... the new normal
  • My walking will be probably always be affected. 
  • My hand/arm is still getting stronger, but it was the last to come back, and it still has a problem with excess tone and weakness.
  • My smile is still crooked. My voice will never be same sounding.
  • I am on permanent disability  
  • And I am trying to be left-handed!
But things might have been worse.
  • Memory, eyesight were not affected.  Read-ing and walk-ing came back quickly. 
  • I had health insurance; and long-term disability insurance
  • I had great therapists.
  • I had Greg to care for me...
Thank you. Any questions?