Don’t tell me, no clues, I’ll get it in a minute, the name’s on the tip of my tongue. I think it starts with a T, or is it an R, maybe it’s an S, hang on I’ve got it, no I haven’t. That feeling when you can’t quite bring a name to your conscious mind, is very surreal when the name in question is your own!
That’s what happened to me when, the experts believe, was a stroke, not being able to say or write the simplest of words like, yes, no, thank you, was extremely frustrating and disturbing.
Frustrating, because it wasn’t that I had completely forgotten them, just that I was unable to bring them to my conscious mind, To explain exactly what that was like is impossible, but I have considered how I could give others an indication of how it felt. The first analogy l came up with, was a box of words, but on further reflection a better example is a library.
If you imagine that each word in your vocabulary is a book, to find a particular book you use the catalogue which tells you where to find it, but if there were no catalogue, finding that book becomes very difficult. Following my stroke it was as if my "catalogue"was missing, I knew what book (word) I wanted to select, but had no way of finding it, other than to search the whole library. With each book I eventually found I could start the process of rewriting my catalogue.
I spent most of my first night in hospital trying to find and memorise a few simply words. I did this by firstly trying to say my name in my mind, after a considerable amount of effort and concentration I finally could, and then repeating it until I could say it without much effort. I did the same with three or four more words, before going back to my name, and starting the process all over again.
Fortunately for me,using a similar process, each day since, there’s been small but significant cumulative improvements in my speech and writing. I’m not back to where I was before the stroke, but I’m definitely getting there.
I’m really pleased with my progress, especially because when I had the stroke, I had no idea how temporary or permanent the effects might turn out to be. The thought of not being able to express my thoughts, emotions, and opinions was not only extremely concerning, it actually horrified me, and so I made a conscious decision to fight as hard as I could, to regain these two vital means of communication.
My speech is now greatly improved, though I still sometimes stutter, and have difficulty finding some words and phrases, and it can take me some time when writing pieces like this one, and I continue to work hard in order to make further improvements.
This happened on Christmas Eve 2015, and since then, no one can give me a definitive answer whether a stroke or my MS was the cause. The neurologist, the stroke nurse and my MS nurse, have only told me that it was probably a stroke.
I would be very interested in whether anyone else here has ever had a similar experience.