Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Volunteering

I’m at home almost the whole day now – alone. My son goes to school from 9 to 3. Under normal circumstances you would say: “Hey! Great! What else do you want? You can relax the whole day.” But it is not like that at all. Like with any motor activity you have to practice, to improve. Well staying home alone doesn’t provide me with the best of conversation opportunities. So I have to be among people, conversing with people, yet I am not ready to work. Out of four main arteries that supply my brain, one is completely blocked, one is working at 20% level, when I lack sleep my heart and vascular system work overtime. So for example when I get a cold or flu, best course of action for me is to lie down and wait it over (given the six different medications I’m already taking), instead of taking two paracetamols a going to work. It is a matter of survival I guess.
So for the moment going to a workplace is not an option. I inquire about possible volunteering opportunities: at the local library (no: the only position is shelving books), at the office of my speech therapist (no: we only employ professionals), at my Condo’s management office (no: we don’t do volunteers – which is a mystery to me as they certainly can do with some help around the office). At the local YMCA (Please fill in this form and we will call you)…
I thought that with my work credentials, doors for volunteering would be wide open, so much so that I would have a hard time picking and choosing. Well, so much for being overwhelmed by offers…
Finally my son’s school’s founder/principle agrees for me to come to the office to help. My son goes to a Montessori school – Lone Oak Montessori of MD. It is managed by this very dedicated, very delightful young lady of 75 years. She has a soft spot in her heart for my condition because her husband of many years, suffered from a brain attack like mine, 15 ago, just as they were ready to retire. They did have plans and all for their new life and this happened. He didn’t die, but was left painfully handicapped on the left side of his body, and lost his speech. Later on he taught himself to sign language, and could speak with his wife again. Our principle calls him affectionately, “My computer”, as he is so smart. (Bob Swan has since passed away in 2008. God bless his soul).
So I start volunteering at Lone Oak Montessori School. After I say farewell to my son at the classroom door, I start at the desk in the corridor that doubles as an office. I had thought that in the mornings, while the staff is busy at the door, I could answer the phone or give messages to people. Contrary to my expectations, though, there are no phone calls. Everything seems to be running smoothly here. The office at the main campus seems to be handling everything. Hmmm. So what work can I do here? Staff and teachers go out of their way to create me some work. One day I cut paper to size, next day I am in the gluing business. I love helping this way, and God knows they need help. But speaking opportunities while cutting pink 3”x5” s is quite limited, it is all manual work. At the same time I have made a commitment…
I must start looking at other speaking opportunities while fulfilling my commitment at my son’s school.

5 comments:

snmenon said...

Dear banu,
I am fascinated reading your blog. my husband had a stroke on sep28th with right hemiparesis and expressive aphasia and apraxia. He is 72yearsold. since he has weakness of his right hand he is unable to write(also does not know now to write with left hand. His aphasia has some improvement but a long way to go. He retired as an an engineer and a composer of music. Any suggestion is welcome.Is UMAP a must?

Denise McCall said...

Dear Banu; I have a great volunteer opportunity for you! Have you heard of the Snyder Center For Aphasia Life Enhancement (SCALE). We are located in Baltimore, Maryland. Please visit our website www.scalebaltimore.org and contact me if you are interested. I remember meeting you shortly after your stroke while I was conducting research at UMAB using software to improve language production with individuals with aphasia. I'm pleased to hear that you are recovering! Best, Denise McCall

Banu Turhan said...

dear snmenon,
Sorry to hear about your husband.
In my humble opinion UMAP is not a must, if you can find a GOOD speech therapist in your neighborhood, that will do as well. The key is to push and train the brain against all odds (aging process etc)
Training the body is no different than training the brain. For the last 14 months I have been going to the gym for 40 min on most days of the week. Compared to 14 months ago my body is in a much better shape, ie, I don't suffer from lower back pain anymore, and I tolerate aerobic exersize much more. But if I quit exersizing for a week, it takes its toll. Likewise, if I don't speak much for a couple of days (I am a stay at home mom, after all) it takes its toll also, and shows it by slurred speech etc.
Regarding UMAP, if you have the fin. means, I would say go for it. especially in spring/ summer time. Ann Arbor is wonderful, the staff is welcoming, think of it as a 6 weeks long vacation for self and husband. Go with car and plan to see the surroundings on weekends. The singlemost important thing about UMAP, if you ask me, is that it takes patients out of their shells, seeing that they are not alone causes an impetus in each, that is beyond any single therapy session can provide (especially in Male, do-it-yourself patients..)

Dear Denise,
I will go visit SCALE.
Banu

Dennis & Doug said...

Dear Banu, Thank you for sharing your experience. My brother is 41 years old and suffered a stroke very similar to yours 5 weeks ago. He was a firefighter and very fit so even though he had a great deal of right side paralysis his physical prognosis is very good. His aphasia is fairly severe although he does not have appraxia or dysathria. Reading you blog has given me a great deal of hope and insight into what he must be experiencing, yet unablle to express. He will be discharged from in-patient rehab this week and thanks to you we are now exploring UMAP and other in-patient speech programs. We're so grateful gor your blog and wish you the very best in your continuing recovery.

Sincerely,
Dennis Anderson

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