Bits and Pieces Part I

As I have stated in previous posts, one of the reasons that I started this blog was requests from professionals working with persons with aphasia and their care givers to describe what aphasia looked and felt like from the inside. This post addresses one specific question that I was asked. The question was: “How do I proceed when I face the dilemma of not being able to think of the right word or not being able to put together my thoughts on a particular topic?”

Let me try to explain the process I use by giving you two examples. The first example occurred last week and I will describe it in this post. The second example happened several weeks ago and I will describe it in another post.

Now to the first example: I woke from an afternoon nap with a melody running through my mind. I knew it was a song from the 60’s because I remember playing it as a teenager on my piano in my parents’ basement. Although I could remember playing it and hearing it on folksy radio stations of the era, I just could not remember the title or really any words from the song.

After humming the tune repeatedly, one phrase from the song finally came to me. The phrase was “jigger of gin.” I don’t know why this bit or piece of the song was the first to come back to me because I have never been a drinker. I have no idea what gin tastes like.

My wife and I had been invited out that particular night for dinner with a group of friends, so on the way to and from the restaurant I kept humming the tune silently putting the phrase “jigger of gin” in whether it made sense in the tune. When we got home that night it was too late to get on my computer to check out the phrase that was stuck in my head. I went to sleep humming the tune.

The next week morning I was still humming the tune and before I got on my computer, a second phrase and the name of the group that sang the song came to me. The second phrase was “Scotch and soda” and the group that sang it was The Kingston Trio.

I went to my computer at this point and was able to find a You-Tube video of The Kingston Trio and all the lyrics to the song, that was variously named “Scotch and Soda” or “High as a Kite Can Fly” on different websites.

So in this case I struggled trying to find an answer, until bits and pieces started coming together. When I thought I had enough bits, I enlisted the aid of the internet to fill in the pieces until I had a complete picture.

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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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2 Responses to Bits and Pieces Part I

  1. bendedspoon says:

    This is the first time I heard of Aphasia. Loss for words and thoughts at the needed time can be very inconvenient which happens to me occasionally. I actually assume that it is due to the anesthesia injected to me each time I gave birth.

    Sorry to hear that you have retired from your profession in the university due to Aphasia. I have so much respect though for sharing your experiences that it may enlighten or help others suffering the same, or not. The faith and patience alone is something to be admired of.

    God will take care of you in His hands 🙂

    • Thank you. The first time I heard of aphasia was when I was watching a Bob Woodruff speciall talking about his injuries and his long climb back to working as an on air reporter. When they described the trouble Woodruff was experiencing, I said that’s precisely my condition. I asked my speech therapist and she pointed me in the direction of material about apahasia. Did you know that more than 80,000 Americans experience some level of aphasia for the first time each year due to a tbi, primarily a stroke. There are more a total of than 1 million sufferes in the U.S. today. It is more prevalent than Parkinson’s but far less known.

      Aphasia was only part of the reason that I took a medical retirement. In addition to the mild aphasia, I was battling a heart rythm disorder known as Atrial Fibrillation. Between the tbi and the heart condition, I am constantly fatigued and have balance problems.If I sit still in the middle of the aftternoon for any length of time, I am asleep. This would not be good in a business meeting.

      Due to the aphasia, the A-Fib, the balance issues and the fatigue, I was declared totally disabled. I started receiving SSN disability payments and payments from the insurance complany of my previous employer.These payments total 60% of what I was making before the tbi. SSN determined that they couldn’t place me or help find me a suitable job (one not too challenging or not challengingly enough in which I could earn that rate of pay. The restrictions on disability insurance are such that every dollar you earn for work must be returned to either SS or the Insurance Company. It takes any all incentive to work, unless I could find employment almost equivalent to what I had been doing earlier. I have learned by experience that if you think the glass ceiling for disabled individuals is almost bullet proof, the glass ceiling for age-challenged disabled individuals is bazooka proof.

      My wife and I have to rely on God. We know has taken care of us and that he will continue to do. One of wive’s favorite books is RUth Graham’s “Never Fear Tomorrow, God is Already There.” Two days before the first anniversary of my first seizures, we were given a diagnosis that wasn’t totally unexpected. I am in the beginning stages of Parkinson’s. The tremors were increasing in intensity and frequency. I have all the other markers. I am male, over 60, suffered a tbi; my short term memory is failing; I am having trouble controlling the volume and forecfulness of my voice; I am stuttering more; my gait and other movements are becoming stiffer; the balance issues have returned. The neurologist asked me, “How bad is it? Can you live with it? She continued by saying that if you think epilepsy and heart medications don’t play together well, Parkinson’s and heart medications problems are twice as bad. She and my cardiologist want to hold off as much as I can before starting new medications. I will try a new round of therapy sessions first. We’ll see how they work in March.”

      Blessings

      By Baylis

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