Monday, February 29, 2016

Listen to a survivor

By Monica Vest Wheeler
Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp Staff Volunteer

Stroke can often open up a whole new world when it comes to vocabulary.

A caregiver saw a sign, “tree trimming ahead,” and asked her survivor husband if he could read it. He said, “Cut ‘em up pretty soon.” He couldn’t say the specific words but he knew what they meant. Most of the time he’s correct, but surprisingly, it’s often hardest with little words like “a,” “the,” “and” or short proper nouns and names. He wrote “Bob,” but it didn’t look right. He couldn’t come up with the word “buffet” but said it was a place where “all ready and pay for it.”

Well, you know what, that’s okay because he “gets it.” It’s exercising a part of his brain that the rest of the world often lets go dormant. It’s actually creative. And by golly, a buffet is a place that’s all ready and you pay for it! 

Remember the following:
• Words may literally take on a whole new meaning after stroke.
• Clich├ęs may be lost in translation in a post-stroke brain.
• Look for signs of puzzlement or confusion and take time to explain. 

Listen to your survivor. You may learn a new vocabulary word or a description that you have always taken for granted.

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