Friday, December 12, 2014

Stroke survivors and rehab

I was on the news this week about strokes and rehab. Though I am a private guy, I was asked to share my strokes story because my goal is to help other stroke survivors and their love ones and give them hope. 

Here's the segment:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Great article about aphasia

Why Some Stroke Survivors Struggle With Communication
From Health Day April 15, 2013
MONDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News)  

A shift of language function to the right side of the brain hampers some stroke survivors from recovering their ability to read, write and to say what they mean, a new study indicates.

The inability to do these things is called aphasia, and is caused by damage to the parts of the brain that control language.

The study included 27 right-handed adults who survived a stroke in the left side of their brain. Those who recovered from aphasia showed a return to normal patterns of having language function on the left side of the brain, according to the findings in the current issue of the journal Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience.

“Overall, approximately 30 percent of patients with stroke suffer from various types of aphasia, with this deficit most common in stroke with left middle cerebral artery territory damage,” lead investigator Dr. Jerzy Szaflarski, of the departments of neurology at the University of Alabama and University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center, said in a journal news release.

“Some of the affected patients recover to a certain degree in the months and years following the stroke. The recovery process is [affected] by several known factors, but the degree of the contribution of brain areas unaffected by stroke to the recovery process is less clear,” Szaflarski explained.

The findings provide new insight and may help lead to improved language rehabilitation methods for stroke survivors, according to the researchers.
The study authors noted that a shift of language function to the right side of the brain can help aphasia recovery in children who have suffered a left-hemisphere injury or stroke. But this type of shift in adults may hamper recovery, because they rely on the left side of brain for maintaining and recovering language ability.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Talking Heads, "Blame Canada," and time is an asterisk

The lyrics from the song “Once In A Lifetime” includes the refrain “Same As It Ever Was” by the Talking Heads. I think of the song often when I realize that our son is getting older. He is almost 10 year’s old but he thinks he is older than his actual age. He wants to do so many “adult” things like driving fast expensive cars, have a great career just to buy “stuff,” and to buy a huge mansion. He talks about "his kids" as well. No mention of a spouse yet! 

He is planning his life without a clue about what life entails.

I let him wander in his hopes and dreams though we try to make sure that he is grounded in reality. I do not want to shatter his dreams but he need to be realistic about life, expectations, and limits. We caution him to know that money and success are not what life really should be about. Being a good kid when you are 10 years old will make you successful throughout your life: spiritually, financially, physically, and emotionally.

But he still eagerly dreams about life which is a good thing. Like the song says,

And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself-Well...How did I get here?

On the other hand, I hope the subsequent lyrics will not hold through in his life:

And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right?...Am I wrong?
And you may tell yourself

For now, I treasure our son and his numerous quirks, sayings, and funny outbursts like these:  

Listening to my son and his friend Hayden, they were discussing college. When they room together in a dorm, Hayden wants to have the top bunk. Ethan said, "Dang it! It will smell too bad when you are above me.”

He also thinks they will live in the “domes” rather than the “dorms.” His standard answer when we correct him: “Whatever dude.” And then he giggles.

The good news, Ethan believes he will spend six years in college including graduate school. "You have to have a Master’s degree to get a Lamborghini Gallardo! Or a Hummer. Maybe both. But Dad, if you gave me a smart car for my first car I would have to blow it up. Just saying.”

Chanting during a swimming lesson, Ethan told me “Dad. When you are diving, the trick is to be one with the water. Hmmmm.”

On one of the rare occasions when the whole family goes to the movie theater, Ethan whispered to me saying, “We need to take tape when Mom's goes to the show. She never stops talking! She does not get 'silence your cell phone.' Sheesh!”

Last fall, he was excited that a meteor shower might be visible. However, he said, “Dad. I hope the meteor shower will miss our backyard, won’t destroy the house, my room and my Xbox.”

Ethan likes to listen to hip-hop music. I like some of it also. However, I am trying to broaden his musical horizons making him listen to classic rock songs sometimes when we drive. The other day, we were listening to “Why Can't We Be Friends” by the band War. He said to me, “Dad! That is a catchy tune. I really like it. Oh NO! What is wrong with me?”

On another drive, he repeated something, and I said, “You already told me about that.” He laughed, and said, “Dad. I have the Saxton gene! I repeat myself, a talk very loud, and talk a lot!” “The Saxton Gene” refers to his mom whose maiden name is “Saxton.”

I usually say very irreverent – sarcastic is a harsh word – just to rile up Ethan. His new tactic when I do this is sighing and saying “Dad. You are so sad in so many different ways.”

Our son likes his Xbox. We monitor his on-line activities a lot.  We make sure that his on-line friends are the same age, we have a lot restrictions about privacy, etc. Recently, he told me that he “unfriended" a boy. I said, “I thought you like that kid.” He said, “Dad. That kid is very annoying. He is Canadian. He has a weird accent. And he yodels. A lot. I cannot concentrate on my game because he his a Canadian yodeler.”

Ethan wants a husky dog. I said,  “That will never happen. They are too big and they shed too much. Our lifestyle will not allow that kind of dog."   He said, but, the blue eyes are so adorable.” I said that I have blue eyes too. Ethan responded, "Really Dad.  You’re eyes are ugly NOT adorable like mine.”

At a restaurant, background music was a disco song called “Good Times.” Ethan asked if the singer was Michael Jackson. I said, “No, the singer was a woman and Michael Jackson was a man and he died several years ago.”  Ethan said, “Well, she sounds like a dead Michael Jackson.”

Trying to get our son ready for a basketball practice, he would not hurry. Irritated, I said, “Why do you challenge me all of the time!” He laughed and said, “In Mom’s belly, I was warm and comfortable. I did not want to be disturbed. So, I was born difficult!”  

The Catholic Church owns a house across the street from us. The Bishop retired, and a new Idaho Catholic Bishop will be installed in December.  We have no kids in our neighborhood, and our son is often lonely as a result.  Whenever a house goes up for sale in our neighborhood, he hopes to find a boy the same age as him. When I told him that the Bishop will be leaving the neighborhood, he excitedly said, “I hope the new Bishop will have a boy or two!” I said, “Hmmm…Well….a new Catholic Bishop is a priest. No kids. Understand?” “Oh,” he said, “I got it now. Oops. Nevermind. I keep trying!"
At the dinner table, our family was laughing. I said something cynical, and my wife said, “You are grounded!”  Ethan retorted, “Mom! You cannot ground Dad because he's old. Really old!”

Out of the blue, Ethan said, “Dad. I am a gun nut. Guns and ammo. Deal with it.”

At a family dinner with relatives, we were discussing different foods. I said, “I really like split pea soup.” Ethan said, “Dad. You are disgusting. You are officially on my unfriend list now.”

Getting ready for bed, Ethan said, “Dad, I am multi-tasking: brushing my teeth and petting my dog. I am very talented.”

Yes he is. I hope he will continue to have such a life force. I will miss him when he grows up. I just want to enjoy this precious moments.  He will be gone before we know it.

Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...
Look where my hand was 
Time isn't holding up 
Time is an asterisk 
Same as it ever was...