The most important things I did today

Saturday, January 26, 2008

1. Had a much needed conversation with a very important person in my life.

2. Facilitated a support group meeting for adults who have suffered strokes or head injuries and now suffer from aphasia*. We did introductions around the room (some folks were new, others have been involved for over 15 years!), each sharing something about ourselves, our experience with aphasia, or even just something that happened to us that week.

The most life-changing part of this time for me was the last five minutes of my already-ten-minutes-too-long session. The third to last participant, a man clearly in his thirties, started to introduce himself but then quickly said "Pass." I agreed to let him pass and told him we'd come back to him. Two other participants spoke for a few minutes and we went back to this individual. I gave him a cloze sentence ("My name is ______.") to help him get started because I wasn't sure of his cognitive-linguistic level. He added another short sentence but then stopped, clearly not wanting to fall apart in front of the group. The woman sitting to his right said to him, "Just one more sentence. You can do it."

He looked up at her, and then at the group, and he cried as he told the story of his aphasia in agrammatic fashion to the point where I am still not positive what had happened to him. That wasn't the point. Understanding his story fully wasn't the point. The point was that he was trying, and the amazing survivors in my group went to his side, encouraged him, and promised him that he would make improvements every single day if he kept trying.

I was lucky enough to also have students from another college, an undergraduate student from my university, AND a speech-language pathology supervisor from another college all there to observe this truly amazing moment. The supervisor inched forward and whispered in my ear, "This is my favorite part." I turned to her and my glassy eyes met hers. I looked across the circle and the other students, and many of the participants, were smiling and tearing in that "This is a magical time" kind of way. There is nothing better than watching people who have been there step up and provide hope.

So this second thing wasn't truly something I did, but rather something I was blessed to be a part of.

I am so lucky.

*Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder that impairs a person's ability to process language, but does not affect intelligence. Aphasia impairs the ability to speak and understand others, and most people with aphasia experience difficulty reading and writing (www.aphasia.org).
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Wow. That is a memory to come back to as the semester goes on and starts to get more hectic. Hell, that's something to go back to whenever you need a pick me up. That's amazing. How fortunate that you were able to help him get there, and had all of those amazing people there to let him know it's okay. :o) So so so fantastic.
    3699 days ago
    What a neat thing to be a part of!
    3707 days ago
    Now that is wonderful!
    Simply Wonderful!

    What you do is so important...so important...giving support as this only makes you an angel of sorts in my book!

    Thank you for sharing your day with us...

    3707 days ago
    Wow. That story is amazing. Thank you for sharing!
    3707 days ago
  • SUSIEQ911
    Wow...what an amazing day! That must have been so incredible to be there. You practically had me tearing up at the story.

    3707 days ago
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