Jen’s father was on the way to revolutionizing the car industry when he suffered a stroke. Now with Conduction Aphasia, she has to help her parents adjust to their new lives with aphasia.
So my name is Jen Bolton and I am the caregiver and the daughter of an Aphasia patient here at the Aphasia Center. My dad’s stroke was on September 4th 2014. Before his stroke, my dad was one of the more brilliant people that we’ve known. He spent most of his time doing advanced math and engineering problems as a sideline. He was engaged in what he called his “project”, which was essentially creating a new type of car engine that would run being powered by magnetic levitation on each wheel independently, almost like a golf cart.
Immediately after his stoke, dad was essentially nonverbal. He would attempt to speak, but what came out had essentially no relationship to words. It was just sounds. It was fluent in terms of having the same rhythm and natural pauses that speech would have, but there were no words in any of his utterances. He had no ability to write, he could not copy a picture, copy a letter, nothing. He had very significant difficulty with following very simple instructions but communication was a challenge. He could understand what was coming in but he had no way of communicating back anything that he was trying to get us to understand - he couldn’t write it, he couldn’t speak it, he couldn’t say it, he couldn’t exactly point to it.</
Simple concepts he was able to actually go and show us what it was that he wanted. He was very, very, very compromised.
We continued with that level of daily one hour a day speech therapy for approximately two and a half months till around December when we stumbled onto the Aphasia Center. We had a friend who had also had a stroke who had found the Aphasia Center and had really enjoyed it and had shown marked improvement in his time here.
The relationship between mom and dad has changed a bit… they’ve been together for a very very long time. They will celebrate their 50th anniversary next year and they were together for approximately four years before that so they’ve essentially been together since they were in their teens. They have always been able to more or less finish each other’s sentences but… while that has actually in the initial part of having had a stroke it actually made things a little bit easier because mom knew pretty much what dad would want without having to think about it, it’s actually been a little harder in the context of his improvement post-stroke because she doesn’t actually give him the opportunity to practice actually speaking. You had to really play conversationary to try and get to what he was actually trying to say.
Having him come to understand that life is different now than it was 18 months ago, that finishing that brand new version of a car is not something that is going to happen, is going to be something that’s very difficult. Understanding that we need to sort of recalculate what our desires and goals in life are is something that’s a bit of a challenge. A new normal is an excellent way of putting it… and finding our way to that normal is probably the next thing that we’re going to have to do.