Imagine yourself having a nightmare were you are tied up in a straitjacket, being locked down in a glass box and thrown into a pool. You can see everybody standing there around the pool looking at you sinking. You are going down, and you are trying to yell aloud, but the words just will not come out.
It was horrendous. I lost all notions of time and space. I did not have any idea what was happening to me; I could not understand. I could not move at all and worst of all I could not say a word. I could not say how or what I was feeling.
Only thing I could do was to look around me with anxiety, seeing the desperation in my parent’s eyes. I could see that even though they still could move, they were still just as paralyzed as I was.
As I recall about these moments I still feel like it was the most horrific thing ever, thousand times worse than the scariest horror movie. It teaches you something when you are in this state, something unique. Many give up on life; they start to feel sorry for themselves, but others face horror and extract energy out of panic to rise above it.
I felt desperate on the day’s following the stroke. That desperation was not so much, because I could not move but because I could not communicate. I could not say if I were thirsty or hungry. I could not do anything to let anyone know when something hurts or itches. Only thing I could do is cry aloud and hope that my mother or the nurses could understand somehow what was wrong.
I could feel my saliva running down my chin; I felt embarrassed. I was unable to control my spit, unable to move anything except my eyes – and even they could not focus right.
I had to breathe through a valve stuck in my neck after the stroke. It was put there three days after the stroke to ease my breathing from all the slime.
After a few months, the doctors recommended trying some different speech helping equipment. They changed the normal valve to a special valve that could help me develop some speech. After the nurse had introduced this valve to my trachea, I had to try saying something by breathing as hard as I could. However, all that I could get out was a loud breathing sound like some pervert on a phone. Otherwise, it was just silent.
Breathing before trachea was made to throat is like sucking air through a straw. Three months later, they decided to remove the valve. It was time to close my throat. They just took it out and left it to heal. It took only 14 days for my throat to heal, and it is hardly noticeable now. It was not easy getting used to breathing through the long neck again!
There never came any changes with my speech situation even though we tried some different techniques. Weeks, months and years of work with nothing to show for it, super annoying! It was one of the main reasons why I stopped with speech therapy. Who needs spoken words? Not me. The secret of communicating is not in being able to speak, it is in being willing to open your heart and saying what you think and how you feel, in being honest and sincere. It is in be willing to listen and trying to understand. In addition, even though you may not understand the other person completely you should still respect their opinions and emotions.
When the speech therapist came with the Plexiglas board with letters on it, and I tried it for the first time, I felt like this little simple thing was the greatest invention ever made. Even though that at the time I could not even imagine what a mind was blowing difference it would make in my life! Thanks to alphabet board, I was able to ‘talk’ to mom again spelling out words and not just by blinking anymore (one blink for yes and two for no).
Not being able to communicate made me realize what it means to communicate with another person. Communicating is not just about talking or writing, listening or reading. It is deeper than that; it is about expressing and absorbing. It requires you to have an open mind and an open heart; you should be in touch with your feelings just as much as you are with your thoughts. It is the only way to be able to express yourself honestly and with total sincerity. It is the only way to absorb and understand what (how) others think and feel.
To be continued…