I finally feel, after 7+ years, that I speak normally again.  Well, not normally but pretty normal.  Many, many people have told me since about 2 or 3 years out that I sound absolutely fine, my voice is fine.  Well, telling me that and my believing it and feeling that way are very, very different things.

I still get caught up on words, thoughts, etc.  I still mess up all the time when I’m trying to explain something.  I can explain anything to you in writing, I can write masterpieces, but don’t ask me to explain or articulate something to you vocally.  Up until recently, I felt so incredibly uncomfortable in a group of people mainly because of my voice and my inability to participate fully in a group conversation.  I had to be one-on-one with people.  I still MUCH prefer that but I feel ok about conversations in groups now – as long as they’re not too long.  I’m able to project my voice and make sarcastic comments again, I have timing again.  For a long time this was not the case because I spoke so so slowly that I would ruin a conversation if I tried to interject something.  I felt like people just pitied me because I sounded so awful.

For the first few years, speaking was physically taxing for me.  I remember talking to someone whose husband had a stroke and she was having such trouble with the notion of simply talking being fatiguing.  Think of it this way – I’ve talked a lot about gait/walking on this blog because that’s my thing.  I know how to strengthen certain muscles used in walking and I’m able to figure out which muscles need to be strengthened.

The same goes for your voice.  Speaking is controlled by muscles just like walking is and all of those muscles that control speech need to be built back up just like the muscles used for walking.  @Tina C. – it’s physically taxing for your husband to speak right now, it’s fatiguing for him, it gets better.  I have said through all of this that the speech issues were the most devastating part of the stroke.  Not being able to say what you want to say when you want to say it is pure hell.  Having to depend on other people to simply speak for you, order for you in a restaurant – stuff like that, is pure hell.

I wasn’t afflicted with expressive aphasia (the inability to speak).  It sounded horrible but I was able to go to a therapist and talk about stuff and cry.  Someone with expressive aphasia would not be able to do that and my heart goes out to you if that describes your situation.


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

Tags: , ,

15 replies

  1. If I could ask – I’m at the stage of seeking counsel and trying to get through some of the why me? why now?how is this fair to burden my loved ones?

    How did you make the decision about a therapist?

    In my mind, I wouldn’t ask a “single person” to provide “marriage advice” so in that same line of thinking how is a therapist, who hasn’t suffered from a stroke, going to help me cope with mine? I just can’t seem to get past that they’ll be able to help me at all.

    • Good question. In general I get very defensive when someone who didn’t have a stroke tries to give me advice, particularly unsolicited advice. I’ve been in therapy off and on since I was 15. My mental health was severely screwed up before the stroke – and the stroke significantly exacerbated all my issues. So, I didn’t have to make a decision about a therapist, I had been doing therapy for half my life at that point. Do it, but if you don’t click with someone don’t hesitate for a second to find a new therapist. I needed someone to talk to so that I wasn’t constantly burdening other people. Which I absolutely did anyway. My advice – look for a Jungian therapist.

  2. Congrats never give up

    Sent from my iPad Lynne McIndoe Meredith RHU


  3. Amy can you please send me exercises to strengthen legs specifically the knees?
    My husband has been in therapy since the stroke 5 years ago. He is in the process of learning on how to walk. It is very hard for him to stand or sit.
    Thank you!

  4. Thanks Amy. I’m happy to say that Michael is trying so hard to speak and with a little patience I am able to understand him most of the time. I just don’t force it…but when I really need input he generally gives it to me.

    He has even attempted to initiate simple conversation. He is still suffering from a lack of voice control…he can’t really even voluntarily cough from the diaphragm but rather it’s very “throaty”, as is his voice quality. I try to do voice exercises with him that use the diaphragm. The song “Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting” is a good one. LOL…he likes the “YAAAAAAA” parts. We crack up!!

    As always, thanks for your support.

  5. I’ve gotten much better, 5+ years after the stroke, but I notice that when I am tired or ill or stressed, speech is difficult again. I had the stroke on the left side of the brain, so my right side is affected. Since the left side of the brain controls speech and logic, I think it is much more difficult for me to speak and I’m really proud of all the progress I’ve made.

  6. Since I am an extrovert I learned 2 things from not being able to speak properly:
    I got a sense for what is important to say and how to compress my message not only into the shortest possible, but also into the least misunderstand-able form.
    (I think this is how wise people convey things)
    Talking in itself is the greatest speech therapy (as it is also the best way to learn another language).

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