Global aphasia was like a bomb going off in their lives

Laura’s husband, Paul, had global aphasia. They were worried about how to keep their business going, but their sons stepped in to help. Laura has a few tips that she’s learned over the past three years.

My name is Laura and my husband’s name is Paul. Paul is 55 now and he had a stroke two years ago. It was caused by cholesterol in his carotid artery, it was a big clot that broke off and it went up and because it was so large it lodged into some of the larger vessels. It caused a severe stroke on the left side of his brain.

He was at Rhode Island Hospital and he came out with what is called Global Aphasia. So he was in intensive care for 12 days and he was sent out onto the stroke unit floor. I tried sign language with him because I know some sign language but he has severe apraxia.

It has definitely been like a bomb that went off in our lives. Before Paul had the stroke, we were very active - we have a boat and we lived on the boat in the summer. He has an excavation business and the boys worked with him in the excavation business. I had my own job doing landscaping so when he had the stroke, we really didn’t know what was going to happen.

We didn’t know if he was going to live because it was so severe. The boys ended up getting in, taking on the responsibility of the business and I didn’t know if they were going to be able to. I mean, it’s one thing to work and do the work and one thing to manage it and do all the things that that involves.

It was very scary and it was very unsure as to what tomorrow would even hold. At points we didn’t know if we were going to have Paul or if we were going to lose him. And he’s able to drive and he gets up now, he goes in and he takes a shower and gets himself dressed and does everything - makes his own cup of coffee and he’s out the door to the job site every day.

Don’t give up hope is the first thing. Because it really is, its like your whole world, you do feel like your life has come to an end. Whatever happened to him, I mean our family suffered a death even though he’s still here, the Paul that we knew and that person is really gone. We’re fighting to get him back. Life does go on and they do get better.

I’ve learned also not to baby him as much. But in him being able to communicate, I have learned to put more responsibility on him. It’s “you need to make me understand”, which challenges him to do more than he was doing. I think as a caregiver you just want to make it the easiest, but doing less is actually doing more for them and so Ive Ive learned that, too.