This Is Where It All Began

In attempting to clean up the mess that I made for myself in others in trying to deal with three topics in one blog, I found that I had not transferred my dogs and cats posting to my aphasia blog. This essay is really where the blogging began, so here it is transferred to where it belongs, my aphasia blog.

In the aftermath of a traumatic brain episode (a blood vessel in a benign tumor exploded creating all the symptoms of a stroke) I was left with medical and the therapeutic community described as a mild case of aphasia. I know they are correct in that assessment because I know people with severe, progressive aphasia. But for someone who lived off the use of words for 40 years, it completely changed my life.

In trying to clean up my first general blog into three separate blogs, one on each of the topics of higher education, aphasia and epilepsy, I found one of my earliest postings: Words are More like Dogs than Cats.

As I reread it, I remembered the conversations that it engendered with my speech therapist when I first wrote it. That reminded me of a comment Glenn Fry of the Eagles made when he came onto stage after an intermission during the concert the Eagles gave during their “Hell freezes Over Tour.” He looked at the audience and slowing said, “This is where it all began.” The audience broke into applause before the band played the first note of the song, “Take It Easy.”

At another point in the concert, Fry gave a hint at the rationale of the title off the tour. He said, “Just to set the record straight, we never broke up. We just took a 14 year vacation.”

The next posting “Words are More Like Cats Than Dogs” is “Where it all began.”  As I worked with a speech therapist for months after my traumatic brain episode to try to regain what I thought was passable use of words and language, the following idea started ruminating in my head.

Words are not doing what I want them to do. They are being obstinate and doing what they want to do. Then it hit me. They are acting like cats. They don’t necessarily come to you when you call them. They come to you when they are good and ready to come to you.

As I discussed this with my therapist, she challenged me to describe the process that I was using to try to overcome this apparent difficulty.

As she challenged me to improve, she would have me do exercises over and over again. That’s when I remembered the things that I heard or had been told throughout my life time about practice. Slowly the stories about how and why practice was useful came back. As they came back, I would make notes about them. From those notes came this first essay that described my journey with aphasia.

As a number of individuals have noted, my 40 years in the academy show clearly in my writing. One editor with whom I have worked, accused me of having the Russian novel virus. I can’t say hello in less than 750 words.

However, as many within the aphasia community have read this essay, they have found it very helpful in dealing with their patients or loved ones. This past summer, Dr. Audrey Holland translated my essay into an aphasia friendly format. I encourage all of you to  look at her translation. It is found at

I have found Aphasia Corner encouraging and helpful. I encourage everyone I know that has the smallest tie to aphasia to subscribe to or bookmark their website  One of the first things I learned is that I am not alone. There are many others who have been touched by aphasia.


About By Baylis β2

Ph.D. in mathematics; 40 years as an instructor and administrator in Christiian colleges & Universities; principle writer & initial director of critically acclaimed assessment project "Taking Values Seriously:Assessing the Mission of Church-Related Collges." Currently medically retired on disability due to traumatic brain episode which began with a blood vessel in a brain tumor exploding in March 2009, causing the tumor to implode creating many stroke-like symptoms; the remains of the benign tumor removed in March 2009 followed by many months of intenesive therapy that shifted gears when 4 tonic-clonic seizures in December 2009 left me unconscious in the hospitable for four days. I am now diagnosed with aphasia, epilepsy, Atrial Fibrillation, and the beginning stages of Parkinson's. Since I can't work a normal job in higher education, I spend my days reading, thinking and writing about higher education, epilespsy and aphasia. I have a blog, entitled By' Musings, in which I speak about topics of great interest to me: aphasia, epilesy, Parkinson's, higher education and religion. This blog canl be accessed through the URL of which is included in this profile.
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4 Responses to This Is Where It All Began

  1. davidwombat says:

    wombat is Wimberley. I’m using speech recognition so the caps may not work consistently. It looks as though you are getting into neuropsychology about 8 years after I get out of the mental health business.

    from the looks of your blog, you are still able to be quite productive. I hope you are as well and happy as can be hoped for.

    Your friend from a distant time and place, David

    • David,

      Thanks, It was great to hear from you. I mentioned to our girls that we had heard from you. Right away they wanted to know if you still had those “macho chickens” that chased them around you yard years ago. THey have never forgot that experience.

      We both have to do a better job at keeping in touch.

      Your friend


  2. davidwombat says:

    We initially had two Bantam hens, but later had more chickens including the occasional adult rooster. The roosters tend to be more “cocky” than “chicken” and your daughters can attest to that. Later we got pigeons including rollers. These are pigeons that have an epileptic seizure or something in-flight and tumble entertainingly – this is not to say that I find seizures entertaining in general.

    We had a cat for about 20 years. The biggest animals we kept were pygmy goats. Lara milked one named Daphne as part of a 4-H project.

    Early on, one of our neighbors used our backyard to house fallow (European) deer in hopes of profitably harvesting the antlers. This was an ill-fated venture but provide lots of entertainment. After the deer were gone, there was a groundhog hole inside the enclosure with some Agaricus Rodmanii, a choice edible mushroom inside. That was the only tangible benefit we received.

    Now we feed the birds but have no pets. There’s a fair amount of wildlife in the back and probably some fish in the pond, but nothing we have to maintain.

    Your friend,


    • David,

      As I struggle with memory problems, I find it amazing what I remember from many years ago, but I can’t remember what I was suppose to get from my office when my wife sends me upstairs to get something. I get to my office and I can’t remember what she said to get. She blames that on “selective memory” since for many years I have blamed the condition of “selective hearing” as the cause for me not doing things she asked asked me to do.

      I also find it amazing what people remember from their childhood.
      Our two daughters still talk about being chased about your yard by “your chickens.” when we visited you many years ago. What else do they remember? The deer in the caged yard and the fact that your neighbor wanted to harvest the antlers. Anything else? THe fact that you built your own concrete mixer and you were building your own handball court. They thought all of those things were unusal and they set you apart from everyone else they have ever met. Today they just attribute it to the fact that you were a friend of mine.

      This week I had one of those childhood memory events. I was asked by one of my doctors if any of my relatives had ever had Parkinson’s Disease. I could not remember ever hearing the word Parkinson’s until several years ago when Michael j. Fox made it the cause of the year. I spoke to a relative who mentioned that one of my aunts (one of my father’s sisters) had Parkinson’s. The only thing I could remember about my aunt were the family holiday dinners we would eat at her house. At those dinners, she introduced me to small peas and pearl onions done in cream sauce. She also cooked some fantastic turkeys in an antiquated stove. What do I remember of her husband? I remember my uncle on Friday nights sitting in his favorite chair while he, my dad and I watched the Gillette Friday Fights on their very small black and white television since we didn’t have a television yet. I was six at that time because I remember watching President Eisenhower addressing the country on our first television when I was seven.

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