The Beginning of Everything: I Can Do Anything
The following story was submitted by a University of Arizona speech-language pathology graduate clinician on behalf of a client.
The first section, entitled "Thoughts," was hand-written by the client over the course of two days in a stream-of-consciousness manner. The client's original spelling and grammar have been preserved for the sake of authenticity.
The second section, entitled "Interview," was an oral interview in which the clinician asked a series of questions. The client's responses were recorded and transcribed.
I was so tired. I couldn't do anything. When I woke up I tried to read and thought "I'm so tired I can't even read and went back to sleep."
When I wake up again ther was stuff all over and the oven was hot.
I don't remember Something was rong.
I new I had to drive or I would be alone and die. then I realized I had to drive. I didn't remember any thing. But had to do it.
When I wake up [in the hospital] I don't know who I was
They sade I wouldn't read or right or walk to much but I thought Yes I will everything.
They think I couldn't understand anything, but I understand a lot.
I got hungre but I coldn't tell people
So much was in my brain but I couldn't talk thats goda change I thought.
My brain has a lot more room.
I have to start getting the new stuf. To learn everything again.
I feel mad a lot because I have so much to tell and say but the words are stuk in my brain.
It gets better all the thime tho.
Its very alone and sad.
I get very confused all the time.
I cry a lot.
I get mad at people.
Its hard to remember things.
And others are very easy.
The brain writes a lot stuff for me from them if I just go with it without thinking its beauty.
I think I'll get everything back with time.
I really believe I will have much more because there is a reason for it all.
I just don't know what it is yet.
My brain is my happiest thing I now.
It has everythink I ever new and had and brings it back sometimes slow and sometimes really fast.
Sometimes when I wake up it has a lot of new stuff in it.
When its like that I can go all day and remember million stuff. And that stays.
Sometimes I'm so tired and sad and depressed that I can't get coffee without thinking of where is my stuff and get confused with coffee and water and creamer.
I want to learn enough to keep other people about all this brain. And to let them know that we can learn a lot and new stuff from the old stuff. And that its very important to moving whatevery you have to get what you want.
WE ARE ALL VERY DIFFERENT.
What difficulties did you have after your strokes?
My brain had a lot of stuff in it and everybody thought I couldn't talk. Didn't understand. That I didn't know. And there's actually a lot in there. That was really hard for me. I would think, oh my God, what am I gonna do? How am I gonna do this? So I thought, OK. I need to take the part of the brain that's empty, and start it again. Using it.
What was the most frustrating thing for you after your strokes?
Telling me all the things I couldn't do. And I told them to go away. Because he said you're not gonna be able to walk. And I said, "I wanna learn how to walk." "You're not gonna be able to." "I want a cane." No, I wanted a, uh, walker. "You're not gonna be able to do it." And I said, "I don't care." And when I say this, you have to remember that I didn't even have the words to be saying that. I was able to tell them enough that.... And that was my first thing. That I decided. "Don't tell me I'm not gonna be able to walk. Don't tell me that. Bring me [the walker]." And so I did all day. All night. I didn't go to sleep. And by the time I was done I was walking with the walker. Very bad, but.... So that's how it started. It was like, "Yes, I will." That was the first thing.
Who helped you after you had your strokes?
My sisters. They never said one thing that I couldn't do. I was just accepted to learn. Of everything. So I didn't know that I couldn't. [laughs]
In what ways have you improved since your strokes?
Well, I weighed 340 pounds. I lost 150 or 160 pounds. I started working out. I learned how to do Zumba. I got healthy. I decided I was gonna live. And then... then I prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and one day, Janet (a speech-language pathology clinical instructor from the University of Arizona) called me. And it was like, I cried and cried and cried. I was so happy! And I had prayed for over a year. I need help! Someone's gotta help me, someone's gotta help me. I know if somebody helps me, I'll learn everything. I know I will. If somebody could just help me. Then she called. And it was like, the beginning of everything. I felt like I can do anything. It's just gonna take time. That's how I really felt. It was like, this is the beginning. And I'm gonna be better. And I'm gonna learn more.
How is it that you've been able to overcome your difficulties?
I cry a lot. I talk to God. All day and all night and all the time. I let myself go only a certain much and then I make myself stop. I get scared that I'm gonna die, and then that makes me.... I get afraid I'm gonna have a stroke again. From being so sad and crying and getting so things, and then I get mad. Very much. At [the people who kept bringing me home instead of taking me to the hospital]. I wouldn't be anything like I am right now if they would have taken me right away. I probably would still be working. And so, I really have a lot of hate [at] them. That they kept taking me home. And I got sicker and sicker and more and more strokes. They shouldn't have brought me home. So I have a hard time with hating. I have a hard time with getting mad. I have a hard time with being sad. A hard time having fights with God. And so, I realized that I have to keep it going. This is up to [me] now.
What things about yourself do you think helped you recover after your strokes?
That I wanna live. It's just that simple. I think for my whole time after my son died, I didn't want to be alive, and I thought of dying. And I didn't know what to do about it. And I tried about everything I could think of. And I'm [Native American]. And somebody called me. And they said, "We think you should go back with the [Native Americans], and start using stuff with them." So I went there, and I stayed there for over a month with the [Native Americans], and the one thing that they told me that stopped everything, they said basically, "Here's the deal. Yes, you can die if you want to. But I'm telling you, if that happens, and you die, it's not gonna be like you think it's gonna be. Because it's not your time. You can make yourself that time. But this is the way it's gonna be, and this is the way it would be. And if you decide to do bad things, and you eventually die, this is not the way you think it's.... It's not gonna be this, it's gonna be this." There was gonna be a difference, and I thought, "I got it. I got it, I can't do that." But I didn't do very much to help myself. And I got worse and worse and worse and I drank and drank and drank and I got fatter and fatter and fatter. And so I didn't like kill myself, but I realize now that in other ways, I wasn't doing anything to be better. And so, when the strokes came and I realized what was going on for the first time, I decided [my son] wouldn't have saved me for this, and God wouldn't have saved me for this. I wanna stay. And so that's what it was.
What advice do you have for people who are dealing with a stroke for the first time?
To know there's so much in your brain that nobody knows about. We're just learning. They're just learning. Everybody's just learning. It's a learning thing. And if you think about it, you'll probably be able to do it. Or close to it.