Tuesday, August 30, 2011

'He heard my voice'

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
The last few entries touched on aphasia, a language problem that often occurs when someone has a stroke. To this day, I feel that my speaking ability is not quite as good as it was before.

These verses in Psalm, however, reminds us: No matter the condition of voice, our speech, or even if we lack the ability to speak, God hears us. He hears you - no matter what - and waits your call.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Regaining speech after a stroke

Know a stroke survivor with trouble speaking? Here's a link with some basic information about regaining speech after a stroke:

Some people with aphasia have trouble talking but can easily understand speech. Others talk easily but can't understand what people are saying. Aphasia is a common problem, especially when a stroke has damaged the left side of the brain, where language is processed. Some people with aphasia get better quickly, but even with speech therapy, others continue to have trouble speaking, finding words, reading, writing, or doing math (the same area of the brain that controls language also governs math skills).

Rehabilitation for someone with aphasia involves a variety of speech and language exercises to help the patient relearn the ability to understand, speak, read, and write to the extent that he or she is able.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

'Please be patient'

The card, carried by a woman from Appleton, Wisc., speaks volumes:
O'Brien — as a card and key chain she carries in her purse both explain — has aphasia. "Please be patient," it reads. "I have trouble talking." 

Aphasia, which affects about 1 million people in the United States, is a word many never have heard.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders, aphasia is an acquired disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain responsible for language, usually located on the left hemisphere.

Stroke survivors quite often struggle for words, to complete sentences. The thoughts are there, but for some, it's difficult to relay those thoughts. Thoughts that are as valid as anyone's. So, as the woman's card says: "Please be patient."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Struggling with language

"Frustrating" is a charitable term describing how people going through aphasia can feel. A story, not long ago, about one man's struggle. ...

Local resident shares recovery story:

After the stroke, he was unable to speak. Hours after he was admitted to the hospital, Cariveau was diagnosed with aphasia, a language impairment affecting his ability to communicate. ...

Dr. Joanne Pierson, associate director of the University of Michigan Aphasia Program, said this language disorder can be very frustrating for patients.

“Language encompasses so much that we do,” she said. “Imagine not being able to express your needs.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

'God is our refuge and strength'

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

The next few posts will include information about aphasia, a condition that occurs with many stroke patients. Aphasia is a language issue - it can affect speaking, understanding, reading, writing.

It's a subject I think about from time to time. I was struck with aphasia in my stroke. Through speech therapy, working with an unofficial "writing coach" at work, various teaching tools, including some designed for schoolchildren, I worked through this issue because God was my refuge and strength and never left my side.

Worked through, but not completely healed. Stress and fatigue can bring some of the issues back. Indeed, not  everyone recovers completely. But God will give you strength to see you through through troubling times. He certainly helps me.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Good news on the clot-busting front

I received tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) in 1998 - early for the drug's use - and convinced that it helped in my stroke recovery. Went from unable to move my right side and unable to speak to getting back both.

A month or so later, I ran an 8-kilometer road race. After speech therapy, I went back to writing for a living. I do believe that my speaking skills are not nearly as good as before, but in all honesty, I am grateful to God for my outcome.

Most strokes are caused by a blood clot lodged in the brain. The drug works to dissolve the clot and speed recovery. Given that it's a powerful drug to prevent blood from clotting, it takes special training and good judgment to use the drug for the right stroke patients.

Thus, one problem is the reluctance of using the clot-busting tPA, even for patients would benefit. Recently, though, researcher found that more neurology residents are using the clot-busting drug:
Researchers found that the proportion of neurology residents who say they're comfortable using tPA rose from 73 percent in 2000 to 94 percent in 2010.

"This is good news," senior author Dr. Brett Cucchiara, an assistant professor of neurology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, said in a journal news release.

"It is imperative that neurology residents attain a level of comfort using tPA that will allow them to use the medication effectively in their clinical practice and guide other physicians in its use," Cucchiara noted.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

With this news, I feel better already...

Optimism associated with lower risk of having stroke
“Our work suggests that people who expect the best things in life actively take steps to promote health,” said Eric Kim, study lead author and a clinical psychology doctoral student at the University of Michigan.

Optimism is the expectation that more good things, rather than bad, will happen.

Previous research has shown that an optimistic attitude is associated with better heart health outcomes and enhanced immune-system functioning, among other positive effects.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Story of recovery and perseverance...

After reading this article about a Boise athlete not letting stroke keep him from his dreams,all I can say is - amazing recovery and an admirable example of determination. Reminds me of:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, ...
 -Hebrews 12:1

An excerpt from the article:

That person is 34-year-old Justin Shields. The Four Summit Challenge will be the longest bike ride he’s ever done. For some, it may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but for Shields, it’s the culmination of years of hard work. In February 2008, a stroke would test Shields' limits, both physically and mentally. ...

Shields' recovery was long. He spent a month in the hospital, one week in the intensive care unit as well as countless hours in rehabilitation. He had to learn to do everything over again, from walking to talking.

“I didn't want to live without the use of my body, so that was really a motivating factor for me to continue on and overcome the obstacles,” said Shields.

But, Shields said some days are easier than others.

“There have been some bad days, I must admit, but for the most part I just look past them as I'll have to go through those periods of frustration in order to achieve my goal,” he said.

Two years after his stroke, Shields is once again working on realizing his dream of being an Ironman Triathlete.