Going to the grocery store is a daunting chore for many. The high shelves, the long checkout lines, these things can frustrate even the most level headed individual. Now, imagine you are shopping at the grocery store. The Fruity Pebbles cereal that your child has been incessantly screaming about is on the highest shelf in the whole store, and you need help reaching it. You signal to a younger boy who works here for help. He walks over, and says " How can I help you?". You go to reply, I need help reaching for the cereal box that sits atop Mount Everest, but nothing come out correctly. You try again. The attendant is standing there, slightly confused, with a pitying look on his face. You try again. He is not understanding you and the already frustrating day just you were having became more frustrating, if that was possible.
This scene is what someone with aphasia deals with every day. This disorder is difficult on those who acquire it because they are still just as bright and intelligent as the day they acquired this disorder, but now they have to work to maintain a simple conversation. There are different levels of severity of aphasia, and each level holds it's own challenges. This disorder is cruel, like so many other disorders, because it also affects those who love and are loved by the person who has aphasia. Jean is a woman who has acquired aphasia and attends the Marywood University Aphasia Support Group. Her husband, Babe, discussed what it is like for her after she acquired this disorder. He mentioned that Jean is a naturally graceful and reserved individual, so acquiring this disorder was difficult for her because it makes conversation, especially with strangers, more difficult. "Jeanie is a really intelligent person, but because of the stroke, it makes a difference." The two faithfully attend the Aphasia Group meetings each week, along with ten others who have acquired aphasia and their loved ones. As Gilbran Khalil Gibran once said, "For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly." Aphasia keeps the thoughts and feelings of those we love caged, but together maybe we can help set them free.
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