Archives for the Month of June, 2011

Butch

Strongman / Library of Congress

Strongman / Library of Congress

After a stroke, some muscles may become unable to relax.
This is called tone or spasticity (spastic-ity). I call it %@2S/T!

A spastic biceps (big arm muscle) might always be “on,” always bent up. The arm cannot straighten. It is annoying to have an arm bent all the time. It also gets really sore.

For awhile, until it was calmed down with stretching, strengthening of the opposite muscle, poison injections and luck, I had a really butch biceps on my stroke side.  Flex my stroke biceps and it looked like that of a strongman.

I am happy to report that I am back to my wimpy self.

Dine

Dine / Wellcome Images

Dine / Wellcome Images


Early after my stroke, I sometimes had trouble modulating my voice. My friends took me out to dinner and I talked at the top of my lungs for most of the meal. No one at the restaurant seemed to be bothered. My friends were glad that I was animated, if screaming.

Bite

Bite / Library of Congress

Bite / Library of Congress


Toddlers are taught not to put non-food items in their mouths.

Stroke victims quickly learn to break this rule. If you only have one working hand, you put lots of items in your mouth: zippers that won’t budge, bottles that don’t unscrew, tangled necklaces. Bite!

Bathgame

Boston Doves 1910 / Library of Congress

Boston Doves 1910 / Library of Congress

They were playing a sport called bathgame. Wrong!

Damn aphasia, or speech loss.

I was pretty sure the sport ended with ball. bathball? No.

Probably it began with a b. I started running through the vowels: be, no, bi, no, definitely not u, maybe y? Wait…. bay? that’s it…

They were playing baseball!

That’s aphasia for you: sometimes your words come to you 3 minutes later.

Soul

Broca Memoirs 1877 / Wellcome Images

Broca Memoirs 1877 / Wellcome Images

Up until the 19th century, Western theologians thought the brain was where the Christian soul was. The brain was not divisible with separate areas for language or motor skills. It was symmetrical, a godly orb.

But by the 1860s science demonstrated localization — different brain areas for different functions. The brain was not a symmetrical orb at all.

Where is the soul?

Tie Your Shoe

Tie Your Shoe / Wellcome Images

Tie Your Shoe / Wellcome Images

A man noticed I was disabled. He also saw that one of my shoes was untied. He offered to tie my shoe for me.

I looked at him strangely. How did he think I had tied my other shoe?

Was he patronizing? Friendly? Weird?

Cheer Me Up

Smile / Library of Congress

Smile / Library of Congress


My aunt says that as she has gotten older, more strangers smile at her in the street, as if they have been taught “old people need to be cheered up because their life must suck.”

Is disability the same?

Are you patronized?

Super Nice Temporary

Crutch / Library of Congress

Crutch / Library of Congress


One week, my hand therapist decided that my whole right arm was rotating inward. She made me a full length plaster cast that held my arm in the correct direction. I wore it for several days until she sawed it off. During that time, I learned our society is super nice to disabled people whose problems are clearly temporary: a sling, crutches, a cast. A woman came up to me and offered to hold my ice cream cone while I paid for it. This happens less so with a wheelchair or a twitch.

Rude to Waiters

Waiters / Wellcome Images

Waiters / Wellcome Images


I was told by a speech therapist to ask my friends who knew me before and after my stroke what had changed about me. My friend Helen said that since my stroke, I was sometimes rude to waiters. Before my stroke I was a princess of etiquette.