Where’s the rest of me?

Contrary to Schopenhauer’s comment about the horizon of a person’s limits, the aphasic can measure those limits, approximately. This blog has been measuring the data. On the other hand, to the extent that the aphasic gets accustomed to aphasia, it’s hard to tell exactly how much one has recovered.

At a remove of six months, I have regained full normal functionality. On this I have objective measures: already two months ago I gave three long TV interviews on local issues about neighborhood preservation, and a long radio piece on the history of Alphabet City for FUV — all ex tempore, fluent and articulate, and were broadcast as such. (Although on FUV I said “the people belong to the space they live in” when I meant, “the space belongs to the people who live in them.” The confusion probably arose because both situations were true.)

I do notice a difference. It’s most evident when I’m agitated. All complications of syntax and lexical retrieval can trip me up when I’m excited. And occasionally, even calm, I find odd difficulties. I have persistent trouble with the noun phrase, “festival judges.” Observe that the denotation is a person: the judges. But the description depends on festivals, which are not persons. Accessing the description requires attention to a concept orthogonal to the denotation. That’s my explanation. But why is it so persistent?

I have one more set of data to upload, but I have been a bit lazy about retyping them. I expect it will be the last. I have ceased to keep a careful record: the types are all predictable now.

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3 Responses to “Where’s the rest of me?”

  1. Soren Says:

    Good luck.

  2. Dorothy Says:

    I have often wondered if a person with aphasia could find a finite number of types of errors in his/her speech. It seems so for you, although so far you have not found a unifying cause for these errors. Could be several sources. Hope you are doing well!

    • rob Says:

      I wonder the same things. When I attended your support group, it seemed to me that only in the most general and obvious sense could I see in each case its own syndrome or kinds of difficulties. More detail requires a lot of time to record all the speech missteps and control for their context (calm speech vs agitated speech). And complicating it is memory. I still have frequent word memory retrieval problems, but it may be that not all of those are grammatical problems, and maybe they are not grammatical at all. It would take a lot of work to create a game like the one we played that evening to test both comprehension and production of specific kinds of missteps or obstacles.

      I have been trying as much as possible to speak, listen (including radio broadcasts etc.), read and write. I’ve gone back to swimming to improve circulation, a little bit of parkour too, and I’ve added a couple of supplements — folate, lecithin, vitamin C. I have no idea whether any of it helped. I count myself as lucky. But there is a clear and unambiguous message here and a demonstration: it is possible to recover full functionality from a large stroke.

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