• Injury and Illness,  Uncategorized

    “Life is so”

    Today, Evangalia wore her usual smile as she came walking into our consultation room.  Despite her stroke, she carries herself like a retired ballerina.  Not as capable as she might have always been, yet, so composed.  I was curious about this composure, about the skill she brings to this traumatic life experience she seems to so gracefully endure.  I turned to the speech therapist and asked, “working with apraxia every day, don’t you find there is something unique about Evangalia, in the way that she deals with her own speech difficulty?”  The speech therapist nodded, “Definitely!”.  She went on, “She just seems to keep at it, she doesn’t give up,…

  • Injury and Illness,  Uncategorized

    The necessity of madness in the story of surviving spinal cord injury

    “Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and malign. But stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of the people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.” – Chimamanda Adichie (Nigerian novelist) There is a burgeoning approach to clients seeking medical care that upholds the view that our ability to act on the struggles of others requires an interest in the stories that they have to tell about their lives. I am not talking, here, about the “once upon a time” kinds of stories, but about the stories that people have to tell about who they are,…

  • Injury and Illness,  Uncategorized,  What is Therapy

    Truth vs Hope

    Lately, colleagues and I have been debating the issue of “prognosis”. More specifically, when it comes to people with severe illnesses or injuries, in a physical rehabilitation setting: how, when and if we should communicate “prognosis” to them? There seem to be two camps of thinking when it comes to this. On the one hand, there are those who feel the professional obligation to introduce patients to the “truth” about their circumstances. Alternatively, there are some of us who feel that “hope”, even if completely unrealistic, should be kept alive. Although I, without a doubt, camp steadfast on the pro-hope side, I have nevertheless become interested in the counter argument.…

  • Injury and Illness

    The limiting defintion of Disability and the defiance of prognosis

    In this lecture by Aimee Mullins, she explores the definition of  “disablilty” and how it in no ways resonates with her experience of  herself.  She talks about the role of adversity in her life and how her prognosis was something that she lived to defy. Aimee Mullins on Disablilty, Adversity and Prognosis

  • Injury and Illness

    Locked In

    I was surprised, when opening the Mail & Guardian this weekend, to find a story titled “Locked in a coma for 23 years” (see online version here).  It speaks about a man, Rom Houben, who was apparently thought to have been in a coma for the last 23 years.  The headline for the story is a bit misleading as the most tragic part of this story is that Rom Houben has, in fact, not been in a coma.  It is tragic enough to suffer from “locked in syndrome”, for no matter how short a period.  For instance, many people who develop advanced Guillain Barre Syndrome get to, unfortunately, experience this…

  • Injury and Illness,  Uncategorized

    You are not Your Illness

    Taking the “fall” for Parkinson’s. One of the most challenging aspects of doing psychology in a physical rehabilitation setting is that you are often faced with problems for which there is very little “cure”.  There are many illnesses that, unfortunately, are slow, persistent and sardonic in their deterioration of the nervous system.  The most a psychologist can perhaps hope to do, in the face of such an onslaught, is support the human spirit in its struggle not to become diminished by these illnesses. Parkinson’s is one of these debilitating illnesses that unsuspectingly creep their way into your life.  You might begin to recognise its arrival through the beginning of a…