Six and a half years later, I am writing another chapter in my book Identity Theft, while I’m also writing another chapter in my story of stroke recovery. I spent the month of May in Chicago doing another four weeks of intensive speech therapy at the same program I did last Fall. Again, I definitely improved! The progress is slow, but any progress is a step in the right direction, and worth continuing to fight for.
Stroke survivors and their families out to dinner in Chicago
My program had 10 people – 8 of whom were less than one year out from their stroke, one was about three and a half years out, and it has now been nearly seven years since my stroke. My primary focus of the program was to improve my own speech. But as a stroke recovery veteran at this point, part of what keeps me motivated is helping others along this emotional and psychological journey. And I think it is helpful for others to see me fighting as hard today as I did in the months immediately following my stroke. There is always another hurdle, always another setback, but there is always another threshold of improvement that is worth continuing to work toward.
At its heart, my book discusses the emotional and psychological journey of rediscovering and reforming one’s identity after a traumatic injury. For me, I feared that meant giving up my career which I loved. And while I am no longer on the same career trajectory, writing this book is a way for me to not only provide guidance and encouragement to others with traumatic injuries, but also for me to retain my identity as a teacher, lecturer, and contributor of knowledge. In a few weeks, I will have the opportunity to continue my life of academia as the keynote speaker at Aphasia Day in Chicago. I hope sharing the lessons I have learned in my emotional and psychological journey can help others as much as this process of researching, documenting, and presenting this journey has helped me.