Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday Saunter~ Inspiration and Games Progress Report

 Yes, I know it's Saturday. I purposely leave two days a week blank for whatever strikes my interest. Initially, it was planned for Thursday and Saturday no blog writing so I could have two days off during the week without a regular blog post. But that is subject to change...like today.

On the "Today" show this week there was an interview with a lovely, elderly couple. She had aphasia from a brain bleed. He was using flashcards at their normal daily jaunt to the coffee shop and helping her with her relearn the alphabet. Thank you, Rhonda Hand for sending me the link. Today Show click here to watch it.

A stranger thought it was inspirational of a man teaching his beloved. He took a picture and posted it online. It has gone viral with almost half a million hits. Although in the video the word "aphasia" is never said, people with this condition know it by that name.

Aphasia is a loss of words very basically. When your brain knows what it wants to say but forgets the word or even how to form or pronounce it. The person suffering with this condition gets frustrated with those around them when they can't speak, read or write. Just yesterday you could, but then you ended up with a damaged brain and can't.

For me, I have very mild aphasia now where my brain can't find appropriate words for what I'm trying to say. My manuscript is chock full of XXX (description of the word) to be filled in later. Or type a word and put it in colored brackets. Eventually, I'll remember the word or think of a better word and fill it in. Even this blog is written days before it is published so I can go back in it and edit. I'm working towards my goal...getting my words back. This is tougher than learning English for the first time because I know I know what the word is but can't think of it when I want it. It's petite death for a writer.

I had some experience with aphasia before I had my stroke. My youngest daughter was losing words and loved to talk. She would be chatting away when she would stop and mentally search for a word. Then she would say, "It's yellow. It grows on trees and monkeys eat it." You would tell her banana and she'd continue on with what she was saying. Her aphasia was due to too much iron build up in her brain. Her condition is hemochromotosis. The build up was so severe a few years ago the doctors gave me the-anytime-now speech. The speech every loved one dreads to hear. So I'm not a total stranger to the condition. So thank you, Jenn for showing this woman how to work around her condition before she knew she needed it.

On to fun and games. As you know, if you've been reading my blog, I've been playing games online to boost my cognitive/aphasia shortcomings. My DH (darling hubby) and have a subscription to Pogo that we renew every year. Originally, I thought of it a way to keep his brain active. When I came home from the hospital, the games I usually played were impossible. That's when I first knew I had some serious issues to address. There was no way I could keep up and play in the leagues I belonged to.

After I was home for a few days, I realized I'd lost all my foreign language abilities. Trying to pick up where I left off in writing my novels increased the magnitude of the deficit widened like a canyon before me. I couldn't write. The words blurred in front of my eyes making no sense whatsoever, but it was something I could work on. I laughingly dubbed it my "dyslexic/ADD."

I knew I had spelling problems, sequencing issues, memory matching, not to mention anything that involved strategy. I started simply. No time limit because I wasn't used to using my left hand with the mouse. I didn't care if I made mistakes and got an ugly sound. I didn't care whether I won or lost. I was being proactive and trying to fix something that was broken, but I set a loss rate of three attempts before frustration started to set in. That way I knew I had three times to get it right before I quit. When retraining the brain it is important to set limits.

I started with Tri-Peaks Pyramid because it was solitaire. I could retrain my brain with higher and lower values in sequencing. Across the top of the screen a man will travel across for each hand you win and open up treasure chests full on insane items and tokens. To the right is a snake which climbs the column depending on how many cards in a row you can match up. It gives you 1X, 2X, 3X the total score. But at this point the score is irrelevant.

I looked at the turn up card from the deck to decide which number is higher and lower in the sequence. You only have one undo per game so you have to really think. In the beginning, I would have to repeat to myself the number which was higher or lower than the card facing up. After months of playing this game I can now do this without constantly reminding myself.

Scrabble and Qwerty is a word game which does not allow for words to be spelled wrong. The timer is optional something to shoot for. I have now reached level fifty ( the highest) in both games and have moved on to timed games like Word Whackdown and Boggle Bash. I still don't have the speed I once did and play on the easy level versus the hard level I was on, but I'm relearning.To relearn effectively there must always be a challenge.

For color definition and strategy, I play Poppit. I have a rough time distinguishing green from blue. You have to match the colors in two or more balloons. I did something the other day that in my four years of playing the game I've never been able to do before. I popped every single balloon! That's real progress.

Currently I'm working on number recognition with Bingo and have progressed from one card and a slow caller to three cards to medium speed.

It takes repetitive action to build new pathways. Push towards recovery, but not to the point of frustration. Time and scores don't matter. You will be the winner.

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