Imagine for a moment it’s 6:00 p.m., and your stomach is rumbling. Suddenly, Arby’s Sunday paper coupons flash before your eyes, so you flip through stacks of papers. There’s a coupon for 2 for $5 roast beef sandwiches, so you decide to double the order.
Your wife hollers from the other room, “Pick me up 2 for 6 Roast Beef ‘n Cheddars!”
Thus, armed with your coupons and order, you confidently jump in the car and head down the road to your local Arby’s. However, you find the dining room closed due to staffing shortages when you arrive. Consequently, you pull into the drive-through line and nervously await your turn. As you pull up to the speaker and hear, “Order when you’re ready!” you fumble for the right words; you know what you want, but your mouth won’t form the words. Despite that, you attempt your order and head to the pick-up window, but the food in the bag is wrong.
Next, you phone your wife, and she calls the restaurant. Jeremy told her he just took that order for 4 Beef ‘n Cheddars and 2 regular Roast Beef. Your wife explains it’s the other way around–4 Roast beef and 2 Beef ‘n Cheddars. As a result of the mix-up, Jeremy kindly corrects the order, refunds your money, then hands you a new bag. Frustrated, you head home with your food.
LIFE WITH APHASIA
By the way, the above story is true and only one small example of life with Aphasia. According to the National Aphasia Association, this communication disorder affects over 2 million people in the United States. In addition, another 180,000 people will develop the condition each year.
Imagine going through life entirely alone, without a lifeline on the other end of the phone to set things straight for you. You can’t talk on the phone—unless perhaps it’s a caption phone. You need almost everything written down. Words inside your head don’t come out of your mouth the same way. You’re frequently misunderstood, with people mistaking your Aphasia for retardation or dementia. That’s the farthest thing from the truth.
In short, and here’s the anomaly: you’re the same intelligent person you were before but trapped inside a body with a brain that won’t cooperate. Some Aphasia is fluent, and the words stream out of your mouth; however, if the words come back at you, you don’t understand. Other Aphasia, like the one afflicting Bruce Willis, causes you to struggle to find your words.
Hence, communication is necessary to function in our world. Aphasia stops the dialogue in its tracks. You’re a human being, living in a world where you don’t understand and others can’t understand you. You’re a foreigner in your own land.
A NEW BOOK
In conclusion, my new book, “Extraordinary Detour, True Stories of Life, Death, and Miracles,” tells my husband’s story of a near-death experience. He—and I—now live daily with Aphasia. My prayer is you will pick it up on May 31 here and that it will uplift and encourage you in your own struggles.
Next week: Key communication tips to speak with someone with Aphasia.
Have you or someone you love been diagnosed with Aphasia? I’d love to hear from you!
Penelope Silvers is a freelance writer and author of 9 books. Her newest work, “Extraordinary Detour, True Stories of Life, Death, and Miracles,” will be available at online retailers on May 31. She lives in Florida with her husband surrounded by beautiful lakes, breezes, and God’s wildlife.