Archives for the Month of November, 2010

Stroke Fashionista

Shawl / Wellcome Images

Shawl / Wellcome Images

At the hospital, they showed me a picture of a shawl. I couldn’t remember its name. I identified it as “pashmina.”

Stroke Fashionista.

Aphasia

14th century prison device / Wellcome Images

14th century prison device / Wellcome Images

I had aphasia, from the Greek for “without” and “utterance.” It is a general term for loss of language. Some patients have difficulty with nouns, or articles, or complicated words, or writing…all manner of language problems.

In practice, not being able to communicate fully is a prison.

Tie your shoes

Feet / Wellcome Images

Feet / Wellcome Images

If you lace your shoes differently, you can tie your shoes with one hand.

Dlrow

World / Wellcome Images

World / Wellcome Images

In the hospital a shrink was trying to figure out how addled I was.

He asked me to spell “world” backward.

He gave me a blank piece of paper and told me to draw a clock.

He asked me to count backwards by 7s, starting at 100.

I was awful at these tasks. My clock had wrong numbers, and they were not evenly spaced around the dial.

I am better now. Dlrow.

Strokewatching

Bird 1731 / Wellcome Images

Bird 1731 / Wellcome Images

Stroke victims tend to have certain patterns of movement. For instance, patients often walk with a raised hip on the bad side, to let a messed-up leg go through. Normals keep their hips even. Once you have noticed the stroke walk, you can spot us easily. Then you will realize that we are everywhere. 6 million people in the US are living with a stroke. Stroke is a top cause of long-term disability in the US.

You can strokewatch. If you use binoculars, you are weirder than we are.

God Lady

Apocalypse / Wellcome Images

Apocalypse / Wellcome Images

Right after my stroke, I had a fill-in speech therapist who said to me, “This is God’s plan.” Separately, she went up to my mother and said the same thing: “This is God’s plan.”

My mother said later that she liked all of the hospital staff except for the God Lady.

Neatly Sliced Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy / Library of Congress

Bureaucracy / Library of Congress

In 3-holed-binders sits neatly sliced bureaucracy: forms from the health insurance company, forms from hospitals, forms from my doctors, forms from pharmacists, forms from the government… Practically every moment in my medical day has been chronicled on white pages covered with tight black ink. The binders take up three large bookshelves in my living room. Elegant.

Minority

Wheelchair 1881 / Wellcome Images

Wheelchair 1881 / Wellcome Images

Disability is the only minority group that anyone can join at any time.

Great Riddles

Riddles 1809 / Wellcome Images

Riddles 1809 / Wellcome Images

The great riddles:

“Will I get 100% better?”

“How long will it take…take…take…?”

Nobody knows.

Virgin Sacrifice

Volcano 1779 / Wellcome Images

Volcano 1779 / Wellcome Images

When you have trouble thinking of a word, speech therapists teach you to talk around the word to make yourself understood.

At the hospital, they showed me a picture of a volcano. I couldn’t remember its name. I identified it as “that place where they sacrifice virgins.”