Thursday, November 30, 2017


Today my wife and I had lunch at a popular restaurant. I asked the waiter where the restrooms were located.

It seems pretty simple.

I had an Instant flashback about when I could not go to the bathroom alone.

When I got out of the hospital it was on my son’s 7th birthday. We went to a restaurant and my son took me to the restroom. I was scared. I had no concept signs or gender. My son guided me to the “men’s room.”

Because of my aphasia, I did not even comprehend the alphabet, men’s, women’s, etc.

Several months later, I went to a local restaurant. I was so confused and I went into the wrong restroom. I was so embarrassed and I didn’t tell my wife for several months.

Three times, I peed in the sink rather than in the urinal. I only noticed when I realize that I was washing my hands where I just peed.

Those early days after my strokes were humbling in general. Losing your sense of self is tough. Agonized about the embarrassment of not knowing how to go to the bathroom.

It’s been almost 6 years and I’ve come along way. And I’m still embarrassed.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Airports and Aphasia

In my career I used to travel all over the nation. Navigating airports, freeways and my hectic life was second nature. In October I had to travel three times. I went to the New York City, Denver and Las Vegas.

It’s like my old days. And I do not miss it.
Practically, the condition of Aphasia is difficult to understand. There are many types aphasia.

Right after my strokes, looking at gates in airports stumped to me.

For example, this photo of a random gate “B 18” seems relatively simple. However, aphasia manifests itself in different ways.
“B 18” did not register in my brain first. I could not understand numbers or letters. Just symbols to me with no cognitive correlation.

In addition, “B 18” could be unrecognizable for some aphasia survivors. Instead of seeing a letter and a number you might just see an unrecognizable distortion in your field of vision.

I could not drive after my stroke for several reasons. My brain was in a fog and my reaction times made me too scared to be on the road.
In addition, simple reading of highway signs what’s the problem. When you could not even understand your name, the concept of reading a highway sign such as “Speed Limit 40” is dangerous. My brain didn’t connect to the images on signs.

I am grateful that I can drive again and happy that I can function like I do considering my aphasia.

This is the reason that I am getting better: Neuroplasticity is the change in neural pathways and synapses that occurs due to certain factors, like behavior, environment, or neural processes. During such changes, the brain engages in synaptic pruning, deleting the neural connections that are no longer necessary or useful, and strengthening the necessary ones.

It seems my brain has recovered enough that I can deal with my aphasia, read and drive.

Monday, November 6, 2017

God’s plan for me?

Today I went to Saint Alphonsus Hospital have lunch with a fellow stroke survivor and two wonderful people who work at the hospital. One is a nurse and the other one is a speech therapist.

Both of them are saints in my eyes.

The speech therapist told me that a 35-year-old man just had a stroke and has aphasia like me.
After lunch, we visited him with his speech therapist, his fiancé and his parents.

His dad commented that he read a poster about me. I forgot that there is a poster of me on the rehab floor.

The basic reason for the poster is to give people some hope. I agreed to do the poster just because I wanted to let people know that there’s always hope.

Is fitting that I have lunch with a stroke survivor and his wife who visited me in my hospital room five and half years ago. I thought my life is over. They really comforted me during those dark days. He said that God has a plan for me and it might be giving hope to stroke survivors. And I agreed.

We both talked about giving back and being useful. I actually said that when I have dark days where I just want to crawl into a hole and hide, I realize that I cannot.

I am grateful that I have the ability to reach people and use my strokes story.
Was it a coincidence that 10 minutes later I found out about this new stroke survivor?

I do not think it was a coincidence.

When I met the stroke survivor today, I could see in his eyes the loss. He seemed scared which is completely understandable.

We chatted and I basically said that I could not talk at all after my strokes. I sad that every stroke is different but you will get better.

Perhaps this is God’s plan for me.