Monday, January 31, 2011

The Kings Speech

I really love this movie! Bob, Emily and I went to see it on the weekend and it was touching, very entertaining and often humorous. Really, it was fantastic. It is no wonder that it is up for so many awards.

The story, in case you somehow missed hearing the plot, is about King George IV of England, who had a speech impairment. He needed to show himself as someone to be trusted and he needed to inspire his people. He was limited both by his stutter and by his own view of his self worth.
The relationship he develops with a very unorthodox speech therapist is the basis of this outstanding movie.

I had serious problems with my ability to speak for a while after my stroke, and I still find that when I am tired, or stressed, my ability to communicate verbally becomes challenged. The frustration is overwhelming sometimes.

I usually find that if I use some tricks to calm down and then breath and talk slowly I will eventually get words out. If I still can't find the right word to spit out, I can usually think up a synonym or some words to describe the object -- even if I can't come up with the correct word for the object or person. One big problem is that so often people will decide what it is that I want to say and will complete my sentences for me rather than patiently waiting for me to "find my words". It is surprising how frequently they are dead wrong in the way they try to complete MY thoughts!

At one point the King yells at the therapist, Lionel "Listen to me! Listen to me!". Lionel replies "Why should I waste my time listening to you?" The King responds "Because I have a voice!" and Lionel responds " Yes, you do!".

I sat in the theater and oh how that scene resonated with me. To have a voice is so much more than the words coming from your mouth. It is to have an opinion, it is a freedom of self expression, it is a right to communicate and it is indeed self worth. To have a voice is to have the ability to make a difference in your life and in the world.

Yes, I too have a voice and I want to express my gratitude to those people who have patiently listened and given me the time and the opportunity to be heard.

I hope you get a chance to see this movie.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Invisible Disibilities

My daughter visited the disability services display booth at the university today and picked up a button for me.

It says....

All Disabilities are Equal
But Not all Disabilities are Visible.

I attached it to the backpack where I keep all of my occupational therapy and cognitive therapy notes and supplies.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Swimming Time

My friend and I have been going swimming on the past two Tuesdays.

There is an organization in the city that arranged for one of the city pools to be closed to the public between 5 pm and 8 pm on Tuesday and open for disabled people to come and swim for free along with assistants if needed!

When we went two weeks ago Shawn and I were not too sure what we were getting into but though the worse that could happen would be that we would sit and chat and wait for our rides to come to take us back home. It turned out that I was worrying for nothing. Everything was great. There were not very many people so that made me happy because a lot of noise and movement really bothers me. We changed in a large accessible family area with great accessible showers and bathrooms and then we proceeded to the pool area. There was no wheelchair lift for Shawn. Instead, she transferred to a water proof wheelchair since the pool has a ramp that goes straight into the water. It was so much fun to watch Shawn roll into the water all by herself and basically swim out of the chair! The water is pretty warm at about 83 degrees. We chatted with a couple of other ladies and swam around and this week played with pool noodles.

Shawn and I have the same physiotherapist and he was thrilled to find out that we are voluntarily getting out there and being active. It is so cold right now that it is hard to get out much and do any kind of walking or any other kind of exercise, but this was such a treat to be moving and playing. We are going to try and go every week and I think we have already convinced two more people to come with us next week.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Physiotherapy in the New Year

Today was my first real therapy session with my new physiotherapist and it went very well. He was very optimistic about the possibilities for good progress.

My biggest concerns are dizziness and balance issues and I have also developed a lot of pain in my "good" hip and leg. It is probably in response to my awkward gait. Tony is assuring me that we are going to do great things and it will make a real difference.

It feels like staring over with physio but that is a good thing. It is a new year, new therapist and a new set of goals. I am very proud of the progress I have made over the past two years and I think I got pretty complacent with where I have found myself. Now looking at how I am doing through the fresh eyes I can see where I still have a ways to go still and change is really still possible!

We went through a few exercises and he checked how well I could do them. I now have a new set of exercises for homework. We also worked on some balance tasks. (I am back to using the dreaded stabilization belt... sighhhhhhhh) Tony firmly stated that THOSE exercises were NOT for doing an home... yet.

I meet with my dietician next week and I know she has a whole new plan for me too.

''Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.'' ~ Hal Borland

It looks like I am well on the path to an even healthier 2011.

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