I spoke to the Communicative Disorders (CD) Program at San Francisco State University (SFSU) last year.
My name is Craig Smith. I had a stroke 7.5 years ago. My speech was blurred, I couldn't say anything, and I crawled from the bedroom to the kitchen, to the dining room to the living room, and finally back to the bedroom. It took 2 days until friends helped me get medical attention. I was in a coma for 4 days (California Pacific Medical Center Pacific Campus), and then I was in Davies Campus for 4 weeks after that. My parents came immediately from Wildwood, MO to see me in the hospital. Then I lived with my parents for 2 years, my apartment was boarded up. Now I live independently.
Life before stroke
I was a Firm Administrator for a Business Immigration Law firm. I enjoyed my work, and it was hard. I worked 10-12 hours a day for 5 days M-F. Sometimes I worked on Saturday or Sunday too.
My experience in the San Francisco State University CD clinic
First of all its fun. The Students are always nice. We all learn, we ALL learn. Clinic is a special place where "it will be OK". Everyone in clinic understands. We ALL have different speeds and need help.
How has clinic helped me?
My confidence has really improved. My improved confidence allows me to be independent. Living alone, I have to do what I have to do. I have to say what I have to say. No one is going to do it for me. Before I would try to say something, but I couldn't say it. My confidence, and my speech is much better. It gets better and better and better.
Advice to beginning clinicians
First, have patience. It takes us longer to get it out. For me word finding can be difficult. You have to give me a moment, let me figure it out, and I will. Second, be current. It is very important. New technology, and new research is very important. Third, remember to include slower speakers. Give them space for a turn. Be quiet and listen. I listen a lot. Encourage them with support such as cuing. Say the beginning of the word, but don't say it and they'll figure it out.
I want to say thanks to Blair Menn, Clinical Instructor, and my Family my Mom Lois, and my sister Karen. And congratulations! Its been a long and hard trip, but we got there. You are going to be moving on, I'm still going to be here, but that's ok, and thank you for allowing me to speak.