Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Back to normal feelings:

Just as my brain-doctor (psychiatrist) predicted, almost six months to the day of my stroke, the feeling of euphoria started to subside. The feeling of “I can overcome anything that life throws at me”, is gradually replaced by doubt and anxiety. But I know the warning signs by now. After a visit to my psychiatrist, we decide to slightly increase the dose of the medication. But we have to be very careful not to increase the blood pressure levels at the same time.
Isn’t it amazing that exactly at the time where you need the highest spirits, your body gives it to you. Of course I would much prefer not to have any depression at all! Oh well, I’m happy with anything I can get at the moment.
It was so wonderful to feel like I’m 20 again, ready to face anything, armed and ready to change the world; less the anxiety of approval. Boy, was I glad to be back my old self again, albeit for six months. An experience I can draw energy from for many many years.
We continue the new slightly increased level of medicine until the summer.
Meanwhile, I discover something. The increased level of medication has a startling effect: My brain seems to respond better. I seem to speak better. Now, whether this is because of serotonin level increase in the brain that promotes neural connections, or because I have a higher quality of sleep now, I don’t know. I only know that there is a correlation. I don’t know the causality. It is a question for the science community to answer,
One thing remains certain though, however much you try to reach a patient, you cannot reach her unless her brain is open to help. Unless the chemical set-up in the brain allow her to be open to receive therapy. If you are depressed (and a lot of people are after a stroke), how can you be upbeat about doing any exercise? First you have to treat the mindset, then you can treat her.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mehmet’s dad helps me

Mehmet’s mom and dad are here. It is a new year, a new beginning as they say. What is my new year’s resolution?? Guess what??
By the time of the anniversary of my stroke I want to be more fluent in my speech. That’s all. I believe that goal is reachable. I mean, look at the progress I have made: from not being able to communicate at all, I am able gesture, mimic, speak at a conversational level… Surely I can speak more connectedly, more fluently in the next six months…
I must. There are so many things I want to do. First of all I want my son to be proud of me. As first generation immigrants, we already bring a different baggage to the table. I want to overcome that by integrating myself to my child’s life in an undisputable way: invite his friends over, get involved in the school, be friends with his friends’ parents…And do this in such a way so that my son wouldn’t be ashamed of introducing me around.
Everything on that front depends on effective communication skills.
Thank goodness I live in a community where people are so friendly. Every time I tell my story to someone they absolutely understand the hardship, congratulate the effort and genuinely go out of their way to accommodate.
In the new year (2007) Mehmet’s dad decides to help me on the Turkish language front. Every morning we sit down, I get my huge Turkish dictionary, starting from the letter “A”, we go down each page word by word, I pronounce each word. When I have difficulty pronouncing (which happens with every second or third word) he writes it down and works with me to hone it in.
We discover a method that works better than others: We call it “end to beginning method”. Especially with long words, you start with the last sounds and work your way to the first sounds. For example let’s say you want to say my name: “Banu Turhan”
You start with the last sound, when you have mastered it, move to the previous one :
I don’t know why, moving backwards works better for me. It just does. Maybe it is a quirk of the Turkish language, maybe not.
Mehmet’s dad works so diligently on this he even follows up with me. Only on the days I don’t feel well I get a break, otherwise I work on my mother tongue every day. If I get to publish my story in Turkish some day, I want to add a whole section with his work.