I didn't know Ron Wiersma before my stroke. I met him in the recovery process. You see, I had two job interviews in 2015 that didn't go well because of aphasia (a speech disorder that occurs to 40% of stroke patients). I found I couldn't speak during job interviews. I was probably nervous because they were over the phone. My phone skills were almost nonexistent at that time. So I decided to try a different tact. I started going to Meetups.
The first meetup I tried also didn't work for me. Time was ticking away, but I was convinced that I could find a place where I could practice talking, things would get better. That's where I found Ron. It was at Northern Virginia Business Referral Roundtable. There, they required everyone to stand up and give an elevator pitch. Was I nervous? You bet. But I stood up anyway.
My intro went very slowly. My throat was dry. My voice quivered a little. I found it hard to find the words. But I finished. I was so glad to sit down! After the meeting, Ron came over and introduced himself. I learned he had TBI (traumatic brain injury) from a car accident. He was being treated for it with low-level light therapy from his chiropractor. If I was interested in talking to his doctor, he would introduce us.
You bet I was interested. In times of stress, I simply lost saying my words. I still knew the words, but they were stuck in my head. Sometimes I could figure out something else to say (like I did during my elevator pitch), but the words were very high level. They didn't convey the meaning of what I felt. Would it be possible to overcome aphasia?
The answer is yes, at least it is for me. It took more than low-level light therapy to get myself speaking more clearly, but it was an important piece of my puzzle. Do I still struggle with aphasia? Yes. Sometimes when I get really tired it comes out. It doesn't happen much, though.
What have I learned from this experience? Don't forget to ask your friends when you have a problem. You never know what (or who) they know. Kind of like Facebook and LinkedIn.
If you want to know more about my treatment, please let me know below. (You can also message me if you want to keep it confidential.)