“Life is so”

“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, maybe it is part of that exuberance we spoke about last week?”  I probed Evangalia to tell me more about this, was there perhaps something about her life she had lived that had prepared her for this?  After much gesturing, attempting to utter single words, and failed guesses on our behalves to interpret what she was trying to tell us, I asked: “Are you saying that your life has become progressively more challenging and that this is by far the most challenging experience of your life?”  She nodded profusely.  I then questioned how she had managed to cope with these progressive challenges in life?  She made gestures towards her throat, attempting to say something.  The words often come out as if muffled by a thick invisible liquid in the air.  I could make no sense of what she was attempting to say.  She then pointed to me and then back to herself again, gesturing with her hands from her mouth.  “Are you talking about conversation?”  She nodded.  “Are you suggesting that you have always been able to talk through your struggles?” She nods again. “To communicate?” Still Nodding. “To socialise with other people?“ She nods again with a ‘there-you-go’ look on her face.  It is, perhaps, important to note here that Evangalia spoke 9 languages before her stroke.  I then reflected on what a cruel irony this was, that the one thing that has always got her through life’s challenges – communication – is the one thing that the stroke has taken away from her.  Lifting her hands in resignation, she produces a single clear phrase – “Life is so”.

Published by Jason Ross

Jason Ross is a Counselling Psychologist with a fervent interest in the use of LANGUAGE and TEXT. His areas of practice include: injury and illness psychology, sexual health, relationships and addiction.