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.