| |

My Story After Surviving A Stroke


Almost 6 years ago I “survived” a stroke and am today still recovering from its impacts. I was lucky that
it didn’t cause paralysis but I am left with a permanent disability called aphasia. Aphasia impacts the
area of the brain that is responsible for receptive and expressive communication. Aphasia changes
peoples’ ability to understand information that is presented to them and also their ability to
communicate with others, it does not impact intelligence. My disability is not visible to others, I am not
in a wheel-chair, I am able to walk without a limp, but my brain has changed and continues to as I learn
to live with the impacts of stroke. Many people still don’t understand stroke and aphasia, I have had
people say things like “I’m sorry you have a hole in your head” and “you should try and walk faster”. I
feel that at times some people try to intimidate and take advantage of me because of the challenges
that I have. People have no idea how frustrating aphasia can be and outsiders who see a respectable
person sometimes make unfair assumptions and judgements. It is something that I have to deal with, I
know that I am not alone and other people in my situation often feel the same. I am different and I can
not help it. Talk to me about my stroke, it is good therapy for my brain. “In one second, 32,000 brain
cells die from a stroke” (lack of oxygen).

To go along with the physical impacts of my stroke several other areas of my life have changed
as well. I am no longer able to work and am living off CPP disability. Money is very tight, I have to watch
what I spend and save money wherever I can. Social situations can be more challenging especially in the
evening when my speech becomes more difficult. I have lost many friends who don’t understand the
“new me” and the relationships within my family are strained. Don’t avoid us, talk to us. Help us get
back to a “new” normal lifestyle after out abrupt change in our health. We are scared too. Stroke has
been a life altering event that has not only physically changed my brain but has impacted all areas of my life.

Sometimes I wonder why I survived the stroke. Over the past 6 years that answer is becoming
more clear, I feel that I am here today to educate people about stroke and aphasia. I want people to
take time to learn about our strokes and not assume what is wrong with us. Talk to us and you’ll be
surprised at what you learn. We need people in our lives and to be integrated into the community so
we feel less alone and more supported. Each person with a disability is unique and has their own
strengths and challenges. People with disabilities (and me included) often ask for help, not because we
want to but because we need to. Be patient with people with disabilities, try to be empathetic and
understand their story, be patient and most importantly respectful.

– Edith Dennis, Puslinch

One Comment

  1. Dear Edith,

    What a wonderful letter and now I know what I have been suffering from. I am also a survivor of a stroke (16 months ago) and life is pretty much back to normal but I do have the symptoms of aphasia.

    Getting back on the soccer fields is a true enjoyment for me but coaching is currently out of the question for now as I find it difficult to communicate effectively.

    Thanks for sharing your story and I hope it benefits others as well.

Leave a Reply