Colliding with Reality

8 Jul

Today I cleaned my computer, in preparation of getting a replacement, of old files and applications I no longer need. In the course of this action I opened numerous documents to read what was inside; one was entitled “Our Goals,” and I wrote it in the spring of 2008 just before I took Chuck to the University of Michigan Aphasia Program (UMAP) in Ann Arbor. We were to spend seven weeks there while he received intensive speech therapy. Being extremely naïve, hopeful, and deep in denial, here is what I wrote:

June 15 – 24: Get ready to go to Michigan
June 25 – August 15: Learn to speak!
August 18: Return from Michigan.
August 19 – 31: Rest. Make calls and plans for the fall.
September 1 – December: Prepare to start teaching in the spring; start an exercise program.
January 2009: Start teaching again!

When I read this again today, for the first time in years, I cringed with embarrassment even though I have no reason to feel that way. Except for the fact that I now know just how naïve and hopeful I was, and how deep in denial. In fact, after a grueling routine of daily therapies lasting four to five hours, Chuck did not learn to speak. We both returned home exhausted; I, realizing that Chuck most likely would not ever talk again, was filled with despair. At times I wished for death, his or mine.

When I look back, I can’t believe or understand how I survived the brutal realities that I had to face in the years following Chuck’s stroke. I would not say I’m over it—I don’t think one ever gets over this sort of trauma—but I have gotten used to the situation. I am amazed at what a person can learn to live with. I wonder the toll all those years of stress have taken on me, however.

I don’t know how long, either, I can continue to live this way. I soon will have to pursue gainful, full-time employment; at that point, I’m not sure I will be able to also act as a full-time caretaker. I have to trust that when the path is in front of me I will see it and know what to do and when to do it.

Next time, I will post a document given to me by a speech therapist at UMAP entitled “Tips for Improving Supportive Communication.” Stay tuned for that and more. Stay strong.


3 Responses to “Colliding with Reality”

  1. Sue Tombes July 8, 2014 at 11:12 am #

    Amazing where you are now!


  2. Herb Silverman July 17, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    Amazing but true, when I suffered my massive stroke and had global aphasia in 1991, I could not speak one iota. Not a syllable. Nothing.

    I, also, attended the University of Michigan Aphasia Program seven months after my stroke. Even though it was slow progress, I made some effort and I was glad that I had the ability to go.

    Believe me, I think everyone has depression, anxiety and frustration, but, what I have learned overtime is that you have to be very positive and have a “can-do” attitude on all fronts. To be energetic, insightful and full of life is my motto. Mind over matter, right!

    So, don’t despair; enjoy what you’re doing and grow. Be upbeat and optimistic always!


    • Laura Ann August 24, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

      Thanks for posting, Herb. I will add that in addition to a stroke, my husband was badly brain injured in a car accident in 1976 (before I knew him); he was in a coma for six weeks and was not expected to live. He did, but the doctors predicted he would never walk. He not only did, but also earned an Ed.D., plus learned fluent sign language and went to teach at Galludet University. He lost a lot of real estate, which left him not much to compensate after the stroke. Which is why after a year, including the time at UMAP, he had recovered as much as he was able. He did gain strength, but in the past seven years post stroke, he still has no language or movement in the right arm. I am over the feeling of despair, but had to face reality; which helped me overcome the despair, if that makes sense. I have become, once again, a positive, productive person, having written a book (please see my web site at and become a successful freelance writer. It is amazing what a person can get used to!


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