Saturday, February 28, 2009

September Tuesday 28, 2006

I wake up early in the morning, shower, dress up, and leave the room without waking anybody. Then I go to the breakfast area to see what is cooking. Wonderful: bake-it-yourself waffles, sausages, eggs, potatoes, oatmeal, yogurt, you name it, it is there, even cooked rice and miso soup! After I finish my meal, I try to find a corner to practice my speech. The dining area is too full and loud; outside it is too cold; finally I go to the gym area which is totally empty. I pull the big binder out and repeat some one syllable words. Until I notice that it is 8:30 and the bus will be leaving. It is a mini-bus for maybe 15 people, but there is only two other people waiting: Mike and his wife Rose. Mike is the aphasia patient, he is 49 years old, his wife will be staying with him for only one month, then he will be on his own. Mike’s situation is a bit more severe than me. He has trouble finding words, but as far as I can see has no trouble pronouncing them. He also has some weakness on his right side, as I understand from the stretching movements he does from time to time. Apart from that there is no indication that he is handicapped in any way. Rose is quite talkative, she talks for the 30 min trip long, from this and that…
At the center, Debbie gives us our weekly schedules. According to my schedule I have: Marie, Ann and X for my one on one therapies, Suzanne for my group therapy, Lynn for Music therapy and computer lab for that week.
The next session I have is group therapy. On the schedule is also indicated where the session is going to take place. So I go to room 202. In room 202 I find one other person: Ruth. The wonderful Ruth! To me it doesn’t seem like she is suffering from anything really. She is perfectly talkative, has all the limbs going for her, in fact, at 84 she looks-and acts- more energetic than me. I see that she has a hearing aid, and therefore cannot hear people well. When Susanne comes and we go deeper into discussion, I understand. Ruth suffers from a damage to the Wernicke’s area to the brain.
According to Wikipedia: “Wernicke's area is located in the left hemisphere, as the left hemisphere is specialized for language skills. Occlusion of the middle cerebral artery in a stroke can affect the proper functioning of this area. Damage to this area could cause a type of aphasia that is now called Wernicke's aphasia or receptive aphasia. This condition results in a major impairment of language comprehension, and in speech that has a natural-sounding rhythm and a relatively normal syntax but is largely meaningless (a condition sometimes called fluent or jargon aphasia). It also has connections to the primary auditory cortex, evidence for its role in the comprehension of the spoken words.”
Therefore Ruth has hard times attaching meaning to my speech, or anybody’s speech for that reason. Furthermore, when she speaks she substitutes random words in an inconsistent fashion. And because she doesn’t understand what she hears (part to the brain damage, part to loss of hearing), she is in a double whammy. But Ruth is the funniest person ever. She has a great sense of humor. For example she means to say: “It is raining cats and dogs this morning!” Instead she says: “It is raining great potatoes this morning!” When we tell her what she just said (in fact write it down for her) she laughs out loud, very amused. After just one session with her we understand that we are going to become best friends, something like the Marx Brothers. Me excellent in understanding but very lousy in speaking, Ruth excellent in speaking but lousy understanding: Deaf leading the blind.

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