Sunday, May 03, 2020

Aphasia



Most of you know that I have aphasia, a communication disorder that is really debilitating, but that I am coping with.  I was afflicted with aphasia when I had a stroke about two years ago.  As I've written about before, I had rampant diabetes and didn't know it.

Anyway, I'm writing a book about it.  Here is the first part:

******

This book is difficult for me to write—not because I don’t know what to say, but my thoughts on how I want to express myself are all jumbled up inside.  Sometimes, I don’t have any thoughts at all, and that is the scariest.  I have aphasia, you see, and that is fairly normal for a victim of this awful disease.  Trapped inside your own body, unable to communicate with the outside world is what it’s like.  You’ve got things to say, you’re sure of it, but they just won’t come out.  And, after a while of not speaking, you kind of grow accustomed to it so you quit trying.  Then, it devolves into a vicious circle that ends up with you just giving up.  You learn to say simple things like “yes” and “no” and “maybe,” but nothing else comes to your mind.

But I could drive.

Three long months after my stroke—it seemed like three years—I was allowed to drive.  That’s one thing you don’t think about, that there is some kind of physician network that secretly sends a message to the state government that yanks your license the minute you have a stroke.  Your ability to drive a car is effectively truncated.  You can’t get a license again until you get clearance from your doctor to take an exam, a driving test, that is, just like when you were a kid.  Of course, I hadn’t taken an exam in a long, long time and what if I flunked? 

And, oh no, what if it was a written test?  My God, my handwriting—I could barely write.  It wasn’t my fault, I had a stroke, writing was extremely hard for me.  Truth to tell, my handwriting was not that good beforehand, but now it was like an eight-year-old was doing it.  But I was lucky.  The driving test was divided into two parts, one where they grilled you and tested you (verbal), and the other where you drove a car and they monitored you assiduously.

It was hell, but I passed.  To this day, I don’t know how.  Muscle memory played a large part in it, I suppose, because without that as a causative agent, I just don’t know, but I think that I would have failed.

Driving was what set me free.  I could go anywhere I wanted without having to talk, and that was liberating.  I could listen to the radio, blast it out, turn on the talk shows and praise God, I didn’t even have to think about answering questions.  Anything to get away from having to speak.  Because, of course, for the first several months when I had the worst of it, I couldn’t.  And after that, I could speak a little, but not much.  I found it easier to nod and smile than to speak.

It was the second day that I was supposed to go to tai chi, and, I don’t know why, but I went anyway.  Class was Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and it was Wednesday, already.  I didn’t want to quit without giving my instructor any notice, I don’t know why, I just didn’t.

After the first day at tai chi, there was my wife to consider, too.  She was younger than me, and of all the things she must have thought could happen to me, a stroke was the farthest thing from her mind.  I seemed so… healthy until my stroke.  It was the diabetes that got me, I suppose.  I didn’t know I was diabetic until I was hospitalized with the stroke.

I was working late as I always did—I got off around one o’clock in the morning.  Feeling tired, way tired I thought that my drive home was a little peculiar, but I put that down to the late hour.  Thinking back, I ran the car off of the road at about 5 miles per hour, and that definitely wasn’t normal for me.  Fortunately, there was no one around to see, or maybe unfortunately for me because I could have gotten treatment right away and possibly could have been saved all of this grief.

They say that within the first few hours of having a stroke are critical for treatment.  If they catch it right away (three hours), the patient can be given tPA. “Approximately one-third of the treated patients had favorable outcomes.”  Believe me, if I could have been one of the one third of the patients with a favorable outcome, I would have taken it.  There was no guarantee, of course, but the odds were good.  That is, if I had known I was having a stroke.

The next morning, I got up late, and felt the urge to rush out the door after kissing my wife, so I did.  It was eleven o’clock, and I was tired, but otherwise feeling… not okay.  But I was talking kind of funny.  My wife must have noticed something off in my speech patterns, because she immediately called my son (who I worked with) and asked him to check on me to see if I was all right.  I wasn’t, but said I was so as not to worry him.  It was about noon by that time, so my son asked if I would like to go to lunch.  I agreed.  I was feeling odd, sort of.

He drove and we went to the Melvindale Diner, I think.  We were there for a few minutes and he asked if I was okay again, and this time I answered that maybe we could go to the hospital, because I wasn’t feeling so well.

That was the last thing I remembered until I woke up in a hospital bed, and I realized that something was drastically wrong with me.


********


I couldn’t think.  I was weak.  I was lying in bed.  I went back to sleep.
 
I woke up, groggy again, but I realized in a panic that I couldn’t speak.

It gets hazy after that.

I don’t remember anything clearly.  The first recollection I had was a nurse coming in, and my wife being there.  She asked if I was okay, and I said, “What?”  At least that’s what I think I said.  Everything else was a blur, then, and I went back to sleep.  But as I drifted off, I remember that my wife was crying.

It gets fuzzier then.  I don’t remember what day it was.  I didn’t remember how long I had been in there.  I peed, and I remember thinking, “Oh, no,” because I had diapers on.  I was spared the indignity of a catheter.

More nurses.  More visitors.  My brother and his wife came.  My son was there.  A visit from my wife.  More sleep.  I knew, though, before I went to sleep again that something wasn’t right, because I couldn’t talk, and it terrified me.


********


“You’re diabetic,” she said.

I don’t remember what I said next to my wife, although it was probably incomprehensible.

“You’ve had a stroke,” she said.

I didn’t know what a stroke was, but I knew that it was bad.  I couldn’t talk, I could barely think, I walked funny and my right arm didn’t work right—I was in trouble.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Jesus Road- 2056 Expedition



I'm finishing up a sequel to my famous The Jesus Road- 2056 Expedition, which is due out by mid-August of this year.  Like the first, it is a sci-fi novel set in the near future, when disease and a series of senseless wars have decimated the planet.  Michigan and Ohio are radioactive zones and all parts west of there are a vicious wasteland.  Florida and parts adjacent to it are under water.

An android, a woman who lost her husband in the last nuclear explosion and a strange boy go through a portal known as the Jesus Road to the city of Jerusalem to find a supercomputer which will be the Biblical Beast.  But they don't count on the androids creator having laden the way with robotic traps along the way.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Conspiracy Chick




I'm working on a new book, called The Conspiracy Chick.  Do you like the cover?

It's a sequel to my book Warehouse of the Dead.  It's set about seven years in the future from the time that the protagonist blew up the Detroit Salt Mines, and Dr. Estes escaped with John Hemlock's head.  Scott (the protagonist) has been kicking himself for having let him get away.  But his son gets tagged by a woman called the Conspiracy Chick because of a conspiracy blog she runs, and she says she has seen Dr. Estes, alive.




Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Zombies



I've written another new book, which I've entitled Zombies, which was a fun book to write!  It's about a zombie plague that begins in a secret lab beneath the city of Detroit.  The entire city is decimated, in fact the entire country.  My main character hears about it and five of his friends are trapped in a building in Detroit, and can't get out.  So he sets out to free them, and, well, you can just guess what he faces!




Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Dragons of Creative Writing



I've compiled my blog posts into one book now, The Dragons of Creative Writing!  I'm excited by this new book, as it details my thoughts on how to change the writer, and thus change his writing.  It does not go through all the boring details that you've heard hundreds of times before about how to improve your writing, but rather, how to improve yourself, which will, in the end, make you a much better writer.

So join me, if you will, on a journey that explores the alchemy of a writer.  You'll be glad you did.


Monday, April 20, 2020

I've Finished My Book- The White Werewolf




I've finished my new book, The White Werewolf!  Finally!!  It's been almost 2 years since my stroke, when I couldn't walk and talk, but I've finally recovered and written a book!

And almost finished with the second and third book since my stroke, the Werewolf's Revenge and the Werewolf Awakening!  Man, I am so happy I could dance!

Friday, March 20, 2020

I'm Finding My Voice Again- and I'm Surprised



With all the time that I've been writing, you'd think I'd know my voice.  But after my stroke, I'm having to relearn everything.  I had to learn how to walk, how to think, and talk and yes, even how to write.  It's been brutal, but I had my loving wife to see me through it.

I learned how to write before I learned how to talk well, a conscious decision on my part that I don't regret.  I speak okay now, but I still have to speak abominably slowly.  The stroke seemed to affect my speech patterns the worst.  So during recovery, I concentrated on writing.

Fast forward a year and a half, and I've found that I can write quite well.  It wasn't so easy at first.  I could write only five words a day, and not very good at that!  Then I worked my way up to ten, fifteen, twenty-five, fifty, one hundred and finally, the much vaunted 250 words per day!  That took me about six months to do.  Somedays I wrote less, and somedays-- those were the good days-- I even wrote more.

Spring ahead another six months, and I finally worked my way up to 1200 words every day.  I didn't have much else to do. so that took me eight to ten hours, but I was determined.   

Now, a year and a half later, I can write an average of 1500 words per day, and I consider them pretty good,  I still have to feather them, of course, but they are good enough to get by.

But still, I wonder what to write about.  I've written The White Werewolf, Werewolf's Revenge and The Haunting of Hiram Abiff, but I'm anxious to move on to some real dark fiction.  I've got one more werewolf novel, which is the Werewolf Awakening, and after that a good ghost story--both of which I should finish by this year, but after that---who knows what I will write?

By then, I should have my voice back.