Dec 28, 2014

It's Time for New Year's Resolutions...Again

Last year, at the very same time, I wrote 10 New Year's resolutions for 2014. I referenced the top-10 list that David Letterman, a talk show host for all my foreign readers, uses occasionally, like "The Top Ten Things That Almost Rhyme With Peas"or "The Top Ten Things That You Wouldn't Want to Hear on Christmas Morning." Always creative. Sometimes funny.

So inspired by Letterman, here I go again, "The Top Ten New Year's Resolutions for 2015, Not All Having to Do with Stroke Survivorship": 

10. I'll attempt to find out, from the before and after pics, why I see Marie Osmond's 50-pound weight loss via NutriSystem not seem like 50 pounds. Photoshopped, maybe?

9.  I'll do research on GEICO, the insurance company, and figure out why the ads make no sense whatsoever to me. Maybe it has something to do with the strok.... Nah.

8.  I promise to smile at everyone who insults me, just like Don Keefer in The Newsroom, to throw 'em off the track, like I have something "up my sleeve."

7.  I'll try to not become frustrated when somebody looks at my caregiver, instead of speaking directly to me in my wheelchair, and says, "Does she want to give us her height and weight?" as if I'm invisible. I used to want to knock them the fuck into next month. I still want to smack them.

6.  I'll read the dictionary. My son has done it twice. Remembering is the trick.

5.  I'll figure out an invention for the brain injured, and that includes stroke survivors. Eventually, we fall and lie there, sometimes for a long time, until someone comes to rescue us.

4.  I'm going to stand and walk around once an hour (except when I'm sleeping, but you knew that already).

 3.  I'll donate more. I have a lot of "stuff" that I just don't need, like watches and books. The time is on my cell phone and I have a Kindle. And do I need 20 pairs of shoes?

2.  I'll find out whether Sony just invented the hack as a publicity stunt for The Interview.

1. And finally, I'll continue saying that it was my right frontal lobe damage to my brain that accounts for my having no filters. So all of you who were offended, get over it.

 Happy New Year, goddammit. See? No filters.

Dec 7, 2014

Speech Therapy Is Done, aka I Graduated from Talking School

I still have the remnants of dysarthria, the speech condition that makes talking tough after the stroke and affects the muscles in the face, particularly the mouth, and respiratory system. But I went to a speech therapist to get help and who I didn't like at first. She was all grim and business-y. Like when she corrected me when I called her a speech therapist instead of the more la-de-da-sounding speech and language pathologist. Drama queen, I said to myself.

Slowly, after two months, she got around to cracking a smile. When she and I were done a month later, she told me that her husband was an egomaniac, that her partying son flunked out of Harvard, and that her stressed-out daughter couldn't get pregnant. I sat there calmly, but I had my own problems.  

Anyway, there were four things I had to remember from the speech wizard: "HOSE." Permit me to explain.  

I started to develop that habit in 11th grade to be sure I could remember all the chemical symbols. When I was in college, and then when I started to work as a professional--a professor, a columnist, a technical trainer--I made lists of words to remind me what should be on the final or what was up for the day. The words didn't have to be in the dictionary. My only job was remembering what they were.  

For example, on the final exam in Sociology, "BIDS" meant sociology was the study of Behavior,  Interaction, Development, and Structure of organized groups of human beings. Or if I were going to teach a beginner class in Microsoft Word, I'd remember "NOPS" which stands for how to open a New file, Open an old file, Print, and Save a current one.  

It was the same way in speech therapy. Thus, "HOSE."

The H stands for Hydration. Make sure your water consumption has been sufficient after you sleep. Your tissues are dehydrated after sleep, naps as well, so it is important to sustain the water in our system. Aside from flushing out waste and and keeping other body parts lubricated, you'll need more water to hydrate your voice if you sleep with your mouth open, if you're sleeping with air conditioner or heating, or if you are allergic to dust particles.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends about 91 ounces of water per day for women and 120 ounces for men. You may need more if you're exercising, so if you are, Gatorade is good for replenishing the electrolytes in your body, but if you have none available, good ol' water is fine, too, in the meantime. Most people struggle to even come close to IOM's recommendations, so you have to focus on drinking, even if you're not thirsty.

And finally, the E stands for speak on the Exhale. From (CPC), comes this: "[The students] have difficulty coordinating their breathing with their speaking; they exhale first and then speak. As a result, they speak in a low volume and they constrict their stomach, chest and throat muscles to create speech, resulting in tense sounding speech.