Dysarthria

When I started writing this blog, I hadn’t found my voice.  Writing voice, that is.  When I started writing this, I was just a physical therapist who had a stroke and I thought that I knew some stuff.  I’m still that and will always be that.  I’m still a PT who had a stroke.  But now I know that I know nothing.  Ok, that’s not true.  I know some stuff, but everybody knows some stuff.  I now know that I knew NOTHING – less than nothing, absolutely nothing about recovering from a stroke.  No one knows anything.  Ok, some people know some stuff but not a whole hell of a lot and no one knows how to get a stroke survivor to full recovery.  That’s where Dean comes in.  🙂  If you want to get to full recovery you better do your own research.

So, in light of this new knowledge that I know nothing, I’m going to revisit some of the topics that I wrote about in those early months.  I’m gonna start with my speech.  My speech problem is called Dysarthria and it sucks, I hate it.  But, it could be A LOT worse.  It’s a completely motor problem meaning there’s nothing at all cognitive about this.  My speech muscles are messed up so I sound kinda weird.  I used to not talk on the phone.  I wouldn’t talk to a new friend on the phone that I made recently and when I finally did he said “why are you self-conscious about your speech?”  So I need to get over it.  But living with this 24 hours a day, day in and day out makes that difficult.  I don’t notice the improvement that someone who hasn’t seen me in a while notices.  My first speech therapist was absolutely awful and useless.  But I’ve learned not to put the focus on the bad guys (like the doctors who f’d up my life), and put the focus on the good guys.  To treat this disorder, diaphragmatic breathing is HUGE and is the foundation of getting your speech back to normal.  The breath is the foundation of absolutely everything.  My diaphragm was not even mentioned to me until I started meditation and breath work lessons.  Diaphragmatic breathing is not only the foundation of speech but is also the ultimate relaxation device.  It’s much better than any anti-anxiety pill you could take, and I would know.  Now I am taking singing lessons.  I end up cracking up during every lesson because I sound ridiculous but this is gonna get my voice back, I know it.  I’ve already made a ton of progress in my singing lessons.



Categories: Brain stuff, Health, Recovery, Rehab, Stroke stuff

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34 replies

  1. But you voice is so much fun now, goes along with those supposed ginger bangs.

  2. Hi, my name is Scott Gallagher and I’m new to this blog, so thanks for having me! I had a hemorrhagic stroke on June 9, 2009, and I’ve been hellbent on full recovery ever since. I’m no more than half a year away from it now. I’ve managed to badly hobble around my small town of Eureka, CA, ten miles a day, 160-180 miles a month, 4,500 miles total. The good news: full recovery is not only possible, I think it’s a certainty if the work is put in. The bad news: the repetitions required is staggering. Neuroplasticity has worked for ever muscle I’ve tried, from cheek and throat to drop foot and toes. Every exercise I’ve tried has worked, and I’ve never experienced a plateau. It’s all in the mental effort put in, and that’s reached through years of repetitions, hours each day. It’s 99 percent motivation and 1 percent technique.

  3. Welcome Scott! Perhaps you could share the particular exercises you did with us. I am willing to do the work, but I am stumped as to where to start, especially with my hand and foot, and raising my arm above my head.

    • With the hand, simple hand clenching. By far my most numerous exercise, I do it all day long. Watching TV, on the bus, standing in line, anytime I’m idle. Millions and millions of reps. Make sure you stretch the hand often. With the foot, walking does everything. For drop foot, outdoor walking with numerous curbs, driveways and other minor obstacles works great. For the arm, I actually didn’t use repetitions. Heavy weight-lifting called “lifting to muscle failure” did the trick. Because it required super-concentration and mental effort, the arm was easily my fastest improving body part. Be careful here though! You can use light weights, just concentrate as much as possible on each rep.

  4. Amy, when you said you don’t notice improvement the way someone who hasn’t seen you in while does, that has happened to me too. When someone I haven’t seen in months or even just weeks tells me that my walking has improved I tend to discount it, thinking that they are just trying to make me feel better. But when I started to keep a record of my walking speed and distance, I saw that they were right. My walking is improving. But all I can see is that my walking is not where I need it to be. Why is feeling good about these tiny improvements so difficult?

    • Yeah that’s all I can see too. That some stuff is not where I want it to be. I don’t notice the improvements but I’ve improved A TON so I need to start focusing on that.

      • I need to remember that 10 months ago I was stuck in a wheelchair totally dependent on my husband, and now I make him tea each morning,send him off to work, and spend the day on my own. Perhaps this inability to see the little stuff has to do with perfectionism.

        • Julia, wow!! That is a LOT of progress.

          • You’re right, Barb, but it doesn’t feel like progress because so much is still missing. My husband still needs to put my hair back into a ponytail for me, and do all the house chores I used to do. He even has to leave open cans of cat food in the fridge because I can’t flip the tops off. So a very, very long way to go still. The real tragedy is that I may never be able to clean the litter boxes again. Oh my god…. how will I ever cope???

            • Lol! I get it… I once wrote a blog entry about what recovery meant for me … Would it be when I could do housework? Would you consider using one of those clips with the huge teeth in your hair? Or rig up a slip knot in a scarf?

            • I can’t do the flip-top cans with the keys without being a danger to myself. I buy the regular cans and very patiently work my way around the edge with a manual can opener. And if I can get away with fresh or frozen, I choose those over canned. It’s all different now, though, since my husband has retired: I no longer have to call a friend when I’m making cookies and can’t get the mixer out of the dough (true story).

              I get into a lot of trouble cooking because I’m willing to try anything. And my judgment is no longer good enough: one day I was making sesame-encrusted flounder and mixed water into the egg (2nd step) to thin it, then, after battering it, I tossed the first filet into the olive oil and there was oil spitting and flying everywhere. I stepped back and threw my right arm over my eyes, and then Tom came running (I guess there were some expletives involved too) to help me.

          • that is amazing, Julia! I’m with Barb. Hoping for similar results for Zack when we get to the ten month mark. We’re at about month five right now.

            • Brooke, my progress in the first 10 months was very impressive. I’m sure Zach will do at least as well. My husband has been a saint and very supportive throughout this, but has not been involved in my approach to recovery at all – he does indulge me and often goes for my daily walk; sometimes it’s into the yard to admire his most recent yard work, which is helpful because of the rocks and uneven ground. Plus he investigates ways to enable me to row, which the engineer he is loves.You, on the other hand, are active in Zach’s recovery and search for information he cannot. No offense to Tom, but that’s different, I think.

    • Julia, my brain has spent my whole life in the future – I’m a planner, and I constantly judge risk – my husband used to tell me that I should have gone into the insurance business because I can imagine every “what if…”
      Living in the future gives me a lot of experience extrapolating – so making a small improvement in walking speed provides a high for my spirits. If I can do that, imagine how far I’ll get.

      I ignore all the shit people say about not living in the past or the future because today is a gift – that’s why it’s called the “present.”
      They know nothing about my past or my future and my “present” is more challenging than they’ll ever encounter.

      • To just live just in the present would be incredibly boring. My mind is always going going going with plans, projects, everything from a new direction for my business to a cake I want to bake for guests coming on Saturday. There is tremendous joy in anticipation. But I can’t follow through on my and plans and projects now without a lot of help, hence thoughts of ending it all before I go completely mad with frustration. Besides my present completely sucks so why would I ever want to live in the present? It’s only the fantasy of a better tomorrow that keeps me going.

        • I have said that from the beginning. Everyone likes to say one day at a time, and months down the road, I see the benefit in that. But three months ago…even two, all I thought was, “my today sucks, I don’t want to think about today.” But I also noticed that thinking about the future scared the daylights out of me because…what will it look like??? So I was in this constant pull of sucky today and scary tomorrow. A counselor told me that I needed to find something that I could think about that would keep me going, since my today sucked and my tomorrow was scary. So, one afternoon during one of my sessions, it hit me- I will be Zack’s wife and he will be my husband, no matter what happens today or tomorrow. That’s my constant. It helped a whole heap. Love that guy. Still gives me tears.

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