For Better or Worse on Stroke and Aphasia
I saw the following For Better or Worse comics posted on one of the Facebook aphasia groups that I belong to, and I thought I’d share them here. Lynn, the artist behind FBoW, wrote these comics after a member of her family had a stroke. They’re incredibly true-to-life. Honestly, these mirror almost exactly experiences that Mike and I have had, except we’re decades younger than the couple in the comic.
I’m posting the dialogue below each comic for those of you who use text to speech software.
Bus Driver: Sit down, Jim, and we’ll get under way. Your chariot awaits!
Bus Driver: I’ll just get you locked in and we’ll be all set to go.
Iris: Listen! He said go!!
Iris: Jim, you haven’t said that word before! Not in its proper context! You’re beginning to connect the right words to the right meanings! Isn’t that exciting?!!
Therapist: We’re ready to do your physio, Jim! Around to the left! You know the way!
Therapist: Lots of tension in your legs. Let’s see if we can limber them up a bit.
Therapist: Now, can you use the technique we’ve been practicing. That’s right. Roll to a sitting position and… get out of bed.
Jim, thinking: I once ran for miles, carrying a rifle and a gunny sack on my back!
Jim, thinking: This is harder.
Therapist: I’m going to check your balance. Don’t let me push you over, ok?
Jim: No, no.
Therapist: Good work. Are you ready to walk?
Therapist: Yes, with a cane. You can do it!
Therapist: Keep your right foot on the right side of the line. Don’t cross over. We’re getting there! … One step at a time.
Iris, thinking: That’s what I keep telling myself. Jim’s getting better … One step at a time.
Therapist: I know. You did a great job today, Jim! We’ll see you next week, OK?
Therapist: And, keep up the exercises I gave you to do at home.
Therapist: Yes. Every day.
Iris: Thanks, Judith. He really enjoys his physio days.
Therapist: We have our own little family of friends in here, don’t we!
Iris: We sure do!
Iris, thinking: Thank God for family and friends!
Iris: Your speech pathologist is coming at 3. Maybe You should rest awhile.
Jim, thinking: I don’t want to rest.
Iris: You don’t want to rest? Would you like to look at the paper and have some tea?
Iris: Your feet are so cold! I’ll get your slippers and some warmer socks.
Iris: You’re not reading the paper. Do’nt you want to know what’s going on in the world?
Jim, thinking: You ARE my world.
Iris, thinking: Now that someone’s with Jim… I might be able to go out for a while.
Iris, thinking: I could visit a friend, or walk to the corner store… or sit in the park and watch the people go by.
Therapist: Iris, we’re fine on our own here. Why don’t you go and get a little fresh air!
Iris: Thanks, Christine. I think I will!
Iris, thinking: There’s nothing like a coffee break when you’re working 24-7!
Therapist: We’re going to try the word “I” again, Jim. The sound is in “hide” and “wide.” Watch my mouth: “eye.”
Therapist: Try it again. Let’s use the picture cards. The one on your right had a smile on it. Use the smile as you say “eye.”
Therapist: Good. You have the “EE” sound. Watch my mouth again… “Eye”…”Eye.”
Therapist: “Eye”…”Eye”…”Eye”…Are you looking at me?
Jim, thinking: I’m looking you in the “eyes.”
Therapist: Your’e doing the “EEE” sound very well, Jim. Let’s put an “M” in front of it, and we’ll have the word “Me.”
Therapist: Try MEEE.
Therapist: Again. Watch my mouth… “MEEEE.”
Jim: MMM MMM UHHEEEE.
Therapist. Again. “MEE.”
Therapist: With the “M” sound: “MEE.”
Jim: MMM UUH HEEAAA.
Therapist: Almost! Again: MEEEE.
Jim: MMMBBU HAAAAAA.
Jim: AAAA AUGH!
Therapist: Let’s save “ME” for a while, OK?
Jim, thinking: Let’s save BOTH of us!!!
Therapist: Ok, comprehension exercises! Are you up for it? Good. Are you a woman?
Therapist: Are you a man?
Therapist: If you are a man, raise your right hand.
Therapist: If your name is Jim, raise your left hand. f you are sitting down, raise your right hand.
Therapist: You can put your hand down now, Jim… You can put your hand down!
Jim: (Pictures a restroom symbol in his mind)
Iris: Well, I’m glad I came back from my walk when I did!
Therapist: Me too!
Iris: Jim needs some help when he’s in the washroom, and he isn’t comfortable going with anyone besides myself or the nurses.
Iris: Don’t be in a rush to go, Christine. You can stay for a while.
Therapist: It’s OK, Iris. We’ve done all his speech therapy for today.
Iris, thinking: But…I need someone to talk to!
Iris: I put instant mashed potato into the soup, dear. Is it easier to eat now?
Jim: Boxcar. Nothing broken. Torquing nuts.
Iris: Is it good? Would you like a napkin? Did you have a nice day today?
Jim: Standard shift. Standard shift.
Iris: Jim, the questions I’m asking all have a “yes” or “no” answer. You can say yes and you can say no!!! Did you have a nice day today?
Jim: (mentally swearing)
Iris, reading silently: If your loved one responds with meaningless or unkind words, do not take it personally. This is all part of living with aphasia.
Iris, thinking: *sniff* What a strange condition this is… At least it comes with a manual.
Iris, thinking: When he’s sleeping, he just looks like my Jim. As if he’d never had a stroke at all.
Iris, thinking: I wonder if he can speak normally in his dreams. I wonder if he can run and walk again and do all the things he used to do.
Iris: I wonder how much he knows, how much he remembers and understands. It’s so hard to tell when he can’t communicate properly.
Iris: Jim… I hope you know… That I love you.
Jim, dreaming: And lady… I am CRAZY about you!!October 26, 2012
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