I still struggle. Let’s see if I can explain it.
I recently read the birthday cards I received. They were very funny to everyone in the room. But when I read them out loud, I had to concentrate on every word. Unfortunately, I didn’t know what I was reading, but people laughed.
If I read them out loud several times, I might get the humor but it would take work. It is hard to explain the disorganization in my brain. When I read, I see each word but I can’t connect them in any context. They are just a bunch of individual words.
Even now, Jill is writing this for me because I can’t do it myself. I tried to tell her what I wanted to write about but my explanation was all over the place. She asked me questions and worked with me until she understood what I am trying to explain. It is frustrating but luckily, we work well together and usually laugh as we talk things through.
Language and cognition are big hurdles. It has been 9 years and I am still trying!
Why do you speak about such a painful subject?
I won’t lie—talking about the stroke and recovery experience and reliving the pain and emotion is hard. However, we decided it is worth doing. Gordon’s options for gainful employment were pretty much taken away by the stroke but doing nothing was not acceptable to us. At every speech we have given, someone from the audience has shared their own painful experience with us and thanked us for giving them hope and encouragement. That is reason enough for us.
Why does Gordon only have 2 speeches?
The most stubborn and impactful deficits from Gordon’s stroke are his inability to organize his thoughts and then get the words out. Because of his cognitive inflexibility, any changes to his fully prepared speeches require months of practice to be able to speak to an audience. As a result, he sticks to his script. We have made a few changes over time but right now, Gordon needs consistency to be an effective speaker.