Aphasia has been a life-changing learning experience

As a nurse, Susan handles some challenges from her partner, Bob's, stroke well. But it's harder to use her professional knowledge with someone she loves. She misses socializing with him. They also have to deal with his frustration and anger about his aphasia.

Hi, I’m Susan, and I’m here at The Aphasia Center, and we’re here for four weeks. Today is our last day, sadly, and I’m here with Bob, who is my partner.

I think there’s something about creating a sense of community with other people who have similar deficits to one degree or another. Whether it’s speech or walking, so that you feel that you’re not alone. So that you’re not alone and the only one in a world, where you go out everybody is racing about to the mall or pumping gas, or whatever it is. So you feel so, I guess, helpless.

Communication is a really important part of a relationship, and I’m a very communicative kind of person, and very social, with many interests. I can still talk to Bob about them, but it’s much harder to enter into that interactive part. He certainly reacts to things that we discuss, or that I discuss and he listens. So that’s one thing that I miss.

I also think that his emotional changes, because of his frustration and anger at times, is also more challenging. We didn’t have that before. So those are two areas that I think make a difference.

The fact that I’m a nurse by background, and he has a lot of needs, I have a new role which I rather not have. But I’m good at it, and there are some needs he has that I feel I can assess and help with.

This has been a really life changing, learning experience for me, to be a caregiver. My background is as a nurse, but my work has been teaching for many years. And also teaching how to motivate people through a coaching program. An international nurse-coach training. Nurses become certified as health and wellness nurses. Looking at prevention, health promotion, at lifestyle medicine. I have a lot of knowledge, information and skills, and I’ve tried to apply that to motivate another person emotionally close to me.

One of the other things that has been helpful for me is as a caregiver is to meet other caregivers. In the case of this particular group being here, all the people affected by a stroke, they’re all men. So with the other wives, I’ve had the opportunity to have one on ones. I think it’s been very helpful to hear how they have coped with certain things, like their own frustrations and difficulties being with their mate.