“So you had a stroke?” The woman, whose name I don’t recall, asked from across the table in the lunch room at TIRR outpatient. I would spend a lot of time there over the next several months.
“No,” I said and frowned. Yes. Why did you say no? You meant to say yes. I looked at her, alarmed. Why had I said no? That was the fourth time it had happened; at least, the fourth time that it had happened that really stood out to me. It always stands out to me when it happens in front of someone who isn’t a therapist.
“I mean, yes. Sorry,” I looked at the table and clenched my jaw, “In November. I was swimming laps and then I felt funny.” She nodded.
What was her name? Lisa? Linda? Tray’s wife.
There was so much more to the story of what had happened to me but the amount of words that it would take to explain and describe what had happened made me tired, so I didn’t say them. My brain could think so quickly but getting all those words out seemed like such a daunting task. Sometimes I just couldn’t figure out how to get my mouth to say the right word, or any word at all. I knew what I had to say and just couldn’t get it to come out. It very rarely happened and now only happens when I’m very upset or frustrated. It’s terrifying, more so than when I couldn’t walk. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to really describe it. I don’t know that anyone who knows me will believe me. I shouldn’t have been quiet about it.
I didn’t tell my speech therapist Melanie, or my social worker Liz. I didn’t want to forget how to make my mouth work in front of them; I was scared that they’d say that I needed more therapy and make me go to more sessions. Don’t get me wrong, I really, really enjoyed the sessions, but needing additional sessions scared me. I saw that as taking a step backwards when I just wanted everything to be over. So I didn’t tell anyone. One time, I almost told Adam’s mother while we were driving to the rehab center, and then I stopped. Trying to explain it and defend the fact that I worried that I might have a very light form of expressive aphasia was daunting, and I had to get through my sessions that day. I figured that I’d tell her later. Besides, it would go away soon, just like the fog in my head and the disconnected feeling. Right? …right?
The fog did eventually go away, but the difficulties with speech are still apparent, and the disconnected feeling is just as strong as it was when I felt ‘foggy’, just as strong as when I was in the inpatient hospital and didn’t realize that Adam was my husband. Let’s talk about the disconnected feeling. I’ll be brief in this explanation and will expand on it later. To me what happened nearly a year ago, is a very different story than the story that the people around me know. I didn’t go for a swim, have a medical incident and then woke up changed. I simply woke up at 24 years old and had a few memories of things that had happened to the girl who was in this body before me. I now have many of her memories but feel little in the way of an emotional, or any, connection to them. I don’t like some of the friends I inherited from her, and I certainly don’t like a good deal of what I know about her. I hope that I don’t become her again. It does sadden me to know that some of the people she felt close enough to that she made herself need them – I don’t need them. Many of them aren’t around anymore anyway – and I say that with no resentment, but as a simple fact.
I have to get ready to be someplace now. It took a month to work up to writing this and it won’t take another month to finish it. More later.