Tag Archives: University of Michigan

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.

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