Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday Tumbling Term ~ A to Z Blogging Challenge

What is the A to Z Blogging Challenge? What rock have you been living under for the past month? Today all participants are breathing a sigh of relief. It is April 30th. The last day of the challenge.

The A to Z Blogging Challenge as defined by the creator himself, Arlee Bird from his blog post this year...
  It all began with my post from Saturday March 27, 2010 whenset forth a challenge to all bloggers for the month of April.   Can you post every day except Sundays during this month?  And to up the bar, can you blog thematically from A to Z?

       Most of the time if you subtract Sundays from April, you then have 26 days--one day for each letter of the alphabet.  When April 1st lands on a Sunday you begin on that day which will be the only Sunday you would post during that month's challenge. 

Each year blogger start lining up as early as December for the early sign up and it's a good thing. While 2010 had 100 participants, this year the number topped over 1,700. Now it involves co-hosts to help keep track of all the participants.

This is probably the fastest growing blog hop on blogspot. It used to be in the early days I'd see one or two of the stylized letters occurring daily during April but this year has been insane with one third of my blog roll participating. Let me tell you, I have a pretty extreme blog roll built over five years of blogging here. 

At last count there were over 180 of y'all just on blogspot. I find on average one or two blogs a month that I'll follow. So the list is ever changing. That's not including tumblr, linkedin, and wordpress. Yes I spend a lot of time reading blogs. No, I don't read all of them because honestly who has the time? Plus some of these blogs have faded into oblivion, or the blogger blogs sporadically.  Thank goodness!

What's it all about? Here's Arlee again...

       Since a big part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge has to do with networking, building communities, gaining followers (who you hope will become your regular readers), and discovering new blogs to follow, let's try to give a power boost to everyone we can today.

That's what it's all about and honestly as a blog reader, I'm sad that the month is over. These bloggers will now, most of them, will go back to their regular blogging schedule and I won't be able to enjoy all the posts.

Keep writing and loving the Lord. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Mailbox~A to Z Challenge

 No, this isn't an email or letter I received. While I considered joining this challenge, I decided against it. Not because It would be hard to blog that much, because I usually blog more than was required. It wasn't because I couldn't figure words of themes to blog about. With a OED anything is possible. It was more the schedule of posting I had set this year for my blog would be interrupted.

But that being said, I've enjoyed reading every post of those I follow. All FIFTEEN of y'all. In previous years I always viewed this challenge with a ho-hum attitude. This year has been different. It maybe be me since my stroke. But here's who I've been reading in no particular order...

1. father dragon                        2. Positive Letters...
3. Lara Lacombe                      4. Retro Zombie
5. Unwritten                             6. PK Hrezo
7. Thrift Shop Commando      7. The Warrior Muse               
9. S. P. Bowers                        9. The Girdle of Melian          

There are a couple more that I am forgetting to name also. Granted most of these are writers with books to sell. But this challenge caused them to think inside a box that is inside a box by the themes they picked. And such a wide array of themes there were.

Now thatthe month of blogs is almost over, a request...keep on blogging. Not everyday. I can't expect all of you to be like me. <g> But at least three times a week. Pretty please with a cherry and sprinkles on top!

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Stroke Survival~ What Your Children Can Teach You

Last week, I touched on some of the problems my youngest daughter and I share. You see she is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivor and I am a stroke survivor. The learning and relearning processes are very similar. Children learn from their parents, but little thought is given to what we as parents learn from our children.

Yes, we learn about life but so much more. I often say I use my children and grandchildren in my stroke recovery and it's true. I am now using all the learning strategies I taught with her with for me.

On the 20th of this month Stroke Tattler ran an article which I didn't post first here on my blog. You can read it HERE. The gist was dealing with the school system with a child I knew in my gut had a problem. Although it took seven years to find out the real answer to the question,"What's wrong with my child?" We found out and did our best to teach her how to cope with the traumatic brain injury which caused her problems.

A lot of damage went unaddressed in that seven years which had to be dealt with.
  • Feeling stupid
  • Low self worth
  • Under achievement
  • Depression
  • Inappropriate reactions
These are hard to handle as an adult, but when you are ten years old it's a mountain of issues. We had to educate ourselves, go through trial and errors to fix them, and be encouraging at the same time. It wasn't easy, but we did it. It was another seven years spent remolding her image of herself from brain damaged to a person anybody would want to be.

We reinforced the negative (slow, retarded, stupid) with positives (unique like God made you, ability to think outside the box, fresh take on an old concept). How she could take pride in being unique instead of being singled out from the crowd labeled different. The kids even copied her hairstyles. Thinking it was cool. All of this led to something we coined as "Jennifer Logic." It was strictly hers. It was logical although she went around curved lines instead of just straight A to B. The irony was she was right when she explained her reasoning.
Jenn at Christmas toy drive 2001

It was just a fresh take. It also had it's own brand of humor. Like this picture from high school. She had just ate lunch and was stuffed and she was an animal. So she got in the box. When someone said stuffed animals had hair and were furry. She let down her hair and fluffed it out. It was down to her hips and she looked like Cousin It still standing in the box marked "Stuffed Animals." "Any more comments," she asked.

But by feeling unique, it empowered her. Although she never wanted to be part of the popular crowd, she was. She was also the voice for every kid that had problems and befriended them with open arms because she was one of them also. She knew what it was to be different than anyone else and take ownership of it. She took what we taught her and put the Jennifer twist on it making it her own.

Jenn in college 2010
When in college in 2010, she was diagnosed with a serious problem. She had graduated from high school and a specialty school already. Her Hemochromotosis dumped large amounts of iron forming tumors in her brain. It compiled into  huge chunks of iron attaching itself to the scars of her brain because of her brain injury. Because of the proximity to her brain stem, surgery wasn't an option. She would die in the attempt to remove them, or very likely be a vegetable for the rest of her life.

Everyone was brokenhearted about about losing her. She had this uncanny way of making everyone love her. The neurologist gave her the "any time now" speech and she'd best get her affairs in order. I held my child as she suffered and cried, "but I'm only 23. I haven't begun to live yet." Still she continued in college while we started looking for alternatives.

What she learned from me, never give up until you are dead and follow your dreams. What I learned from her, my words in action. While I had encountered several bad twists of fate in my life and beat the odds to achieve what I wanted, I have never faced death so bravely. She fought and fought hard in her own unique way.

Jenn and her stepfather 2011
Job offers started rolling in from all over the globe upon her graduation. But she hesitated. She was still under an experimental treatment protocols. Others in the programs had died or become too incapacitated to continue, but she rallied. The treatments called for injections into the brain stem via the back of the neck. She exhibited Parkinson like body movements and a worsening aphasia problems but still she continued every two weeks. My future son in law went to one of these treatment sessions to hold her hand during it. He passed out. He just couldn't believe that she was letting them do this to her. But it was keeping her alive.

Jenn and James 2011
Then she became pregnant. The treatments had to stop. She refused to abort the baby. "Don't worry Mom. I'm in God's hands now," was all she said to me. A month later we were in the neurologist's office with the latest set of CT scans. "Tumors? What tumors?" They were gone. She had a lot of complications with her pregnancy, but she presented me with a beautiful grandson in 2011. The doctor's words of "Any time now" was true, but not today. It's true for all of us.

I taught my children a lot over the years by leading by example, but they have taught me the same way. The coping techniques I taught her so many years ago have a voice in our daughter now as she encourages me not to give up and to keep trying. Could I do any less?

Nothing is impossible with determination.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Wow! I Just Noticed!

I was going through my weekly analytic check for this blog this morning, My hits for the month hit an all time high of over 11,000 page views for the last month.

The biggest surprise came from looking at the map.  I've always been strongest in the US. No surprise there, but look at the dark green spot in Europe. Germany actually beat out the US in page views, 869 to 836. That was a shocker for me. Also Russia is light-medium green with 102 page views. France came in a strong third with the UK in fifth.

Wohoo! I'm strongly international this month! I'm not discounting Canada or the UK. I've been strong there for months. Now if I could get every area lit up...but that's wishful thinking.

Just thought I would share. I love my analytics!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Fun ~Television

Is anyone else bummed about the new episode season being over? I am thoroughly.

At least two of the series I started watching this year dies an untimely death.

After 10 episodes, Last Resort was canceled. While a bit far fetched it was a character driven story line. I'll have to admit the writers knowing the show was about to be canceled they tied up most of the loose ends.

What was even quicker than that was the canceling of Zero Hour after only THREE episodes. Just when the watchers were starting to get interested the station yanks them. Far be it you put anything on television that actually makes the viewers think.

Scandal ended the season with the inevitable cliff-hanger of
the Navy spy guy being caught by Olivia. How long did he expect to keep his secret a secret from someone like Olivia Pope? But him trying to kill her...it just ain't gonna happen. If the mole isn't the mole, who is? No real surprises in the cliff hanger.

The Walking Dead settled one problem but opened up a future antagonist. Andrea, the hapless in love original character, died. I did like the way they portrayed the scene. The face down in the prison was sort of anti climatic. Now what is Rick going to do with all those people living in the prison?

Red Widow is a new series that shows promise. But I expect it to fall
by the wayside also. It's another high concept show.

Arrow keeps getting better and better. Is it my imagination or with the more people who knows who he is the more complex the dynamic become? Oliver Queen may just decide that living on his island is preferable to being home.

1600 Penn is still as stupid as ever. The big question is who will Becca chose to be baby daddy. The show is good for a laugh or two.

Another series I started watching was The Following. I know, I know, but I find it intriguing from a writer's stand point.Each episode is set up like individual chapters in a book that the villain is writing with an FBI agent as the main character. It's like a spider's web intricately connected and planned. How big this web is, is anybody's guess.

Now, just waiting for Fall or just stop watching television again.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Birthday Look Back in Time

Today is my birthday. Happy birthday to me and many more. The previous sentence is often said, but today I realize, once again, how precious of a gift life is. Eleven months ago to the day, I had a stroke and could've not been here today.

A story...

On a cold April morning, my mother got up to go to the bathroom, being six months pregnant didn't help her small bladder. To her horror, she saw blood and clots in the commode. She screamed for my father and passed out.

The hearse

Darkness enfolded her and being surrounded by the black curtains covering the windows didn't ally her fears.She realized the dark interior was the town's hearse. She'd only been in the United States for a few weeks and only recently met her in laws. She knew about the American customs for funerals was a long black car. Did I bleed to death, she wondered as the bumps in the road reinforced the fact that she was still alive. Surely she wouldn't feel pain if she was dead. I'm alive! Please don't bury me alive!

The hearse skidded on an icy patch in the road and she heard my father curse at the driver to be more careful. A hushed conversation followed. Or maybe it just seemed hushed to her in back of the long vehicle. She tried calling to her husband in the front seat, but the words were stuck in her throat. They didn't hear the sounds she made over the radio and their conversation.

Sacred Heart Hospital, Yankton, SD
Soon, the bright lights of the city shone through the cracks in the curtains. She wondered where they were as she felt the vehicle back into what she assumed was a parking spot. I hope they don't think I'm dead, she thought as a severe pain shot through her abdomen. Her last thought before she slipped into unconsciousness was... please let my baby be okay.

She was in a field of flowers. There were more flowers behind a gated fence. I need to pick some flowers for my baby, she thought. The ones behind the fence are the prettiest. She went to the gate and tried to open it. The gate wouldn't budge. She tried harder and felt pain throughout her body in her effort, but especially on her face. That's strange...and she opened her eyes.

The nurse was in full surgical garb and a bright light hung overhead. She knew what a surgery room in the hospital was like. Her sister was a doctor. Why was she in surgery? A pain ripped through her abdomen and then she remembered. The nurse was slapping her face and talking to her but she didn't understand the English words.

She felt straps being tightened around her legs, chest and arms. Smiling eyes above the face mask and more muffled words. Then there was pain. A pain so great she she could not even describe the intensity. She felt herself beginning to drift into blissful unconsciousness, but a hard slap brought her tear filled eyes back to the nurses. The eyes were not smiling now, but shadowed with concern.

Then she saw a small bundle carried rapidly to an incubator. She glanced at the over sized clock on the wall, 4:25. It was the last thing she saw for the next six hours. When she awoke, her husband was snoozing in a chair next to her bed. His hand resting on hers. Judging from the sunlight pouring through the closed blinds it was morning.  She tried to move but the pain instantly stayed her action. Where am I? Judging from the decor and the I.V. bags running into her arm, she was in the hospital.

She moved her arm and my father came instantly awake.

"My baby?" She asked half afraid of the answer.

"A girl, but she has got some problems. I named her Jo Ann. She was baptizes by the pastor shortly after she was born. She's alive but don't get your hopes up. She only weighs a little over two pounds."

Sister Blanche, a nun, came in to administer the pain medicine and check the I.V.s. while my mother took in the information. My mother saw the same smiling eyes looking down at her while her vitals signs were monitored. It was then she realized she was in a Catholic hospital.

"Honey, you said our pastor baptized her shortly after she was born?"
"Yeah, he drove like a bat outta hell to get here. No offense, Sister."
"No offense taken, sir. I've heard worse," and then she smiled the brightest smile my mother had every seen. She turned and left the room.

"How was she baptized Lutheran in a Catholic hospital and why was I in a hearse?" asked my mother.
"Well you know our pastor. He stormed in and fought all comers. By God, she was going to be baptized Lutheran even if was a Catholic hospital. The hearse was the only thing we could lay you out flat in with your legs elevated," my father replied.
"Pretty flowers. Did your family send them?"
"The whole congregation from St. Marks sent them.
She looked at the envelop marked in a flowery cursive script, 'Rm. 425.' " But that's over half the town!"
"Yep, they love their new resident from exotic Japan," he chuckled. 
"Will she be okay?"
"God willing and she's a fighter."

In the months that followed all three of them stayed vigilant and prayerful. Sister Blanche cut the diapers into quarters so they would fit me. They took turns feeding me half an ounce at a time and I continued to thrive. When I reached five pounds, I was finally released from the hospital.

Sister Blanche at her retirement after 50 years of service. 
Sister Blanche who refused to let a monkey of a baby die. In watching home movies of the time, I was a hairy, little chimpanzee baby in a incubator.  I owe my life to her attentive care. She monitored the oxygen levels carefully because she'd read that premature infants often went blind from too much.

In fact she is mentioned on the hospital's website in their history. I couldn't have been in better hands. She died in 1984. The same year my #3 daughter was born a month premature. Of course medicine is more advanced than it was more than half a century ago when I was born.

 Now facing a long recovery of a stroke, my father was right. I am a fighter or just too stubborn to give up just like when I was born. I'm a marvel of survival and I'm in God's hands still.

So what do you think? Should I play the numbers 4-2-5 on the pick three Lotto? LOL

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday Writerly Way ~ Motivation in Fiction Writing

I'm going to finish up my discussion on motivation that I started yesterday. Again I speak only from my point of view because that's the one I know. I've read others' views on the matter and wanted to add my impressions for consideration. This time for fiction writers.

I love a good fiction story. Plot twists, characters that live and breathe, and the settings of where I've been or hope to go even if it's a fantasy world. Writing fiction has different motivations than writing nonfiction. But one thing both have to have is a unique voice and a story line.

I've had all of these motivations in writing fiction. Now to carry on from yesterday...
  • As Paul Harvey used to say, tell "the rest of the story"
  • A story which won't die in your head
  • Characters who would play a role in your story and won't shut up
  • Demons need exorcising
  • The more you write; the more appears to be written-self generating story line
When you write historical fiction, be it romance or any other type, you have boundaries within  which you write. You tell the rest of the story. Or a fictionalized story within fact. I did this with Escape from Second Eden and The Mayan Serpent (yet to be published). I had specific events in historical facts as guidelines and reference to work within, and build the story to coincide with them. The characters are fictionalized with a sprinkling of actual public figures.

This is probably the easiest and hardest form of fiction to write. Easy because all the hard work of recreating an era, clothing, events are done for you and you don't have to create from scratch. The hardest part is the boundaries themselves. You have to totally immerse yourself as the writer in the time. No modern thoughts, conveniences, or speech.

For me, these books are memories from my journals growing up. Believe me when I say that I could write a hundred suspense type books just off my life experiences. I hate to compare myself to other authors, but didn't Ian Fleming and Jack Higgins do the same thing? Their backgrounds are in espionage as is mine, but mine is from a different perspective. All are thinly veiled truths and half truths of people and incidents that passed through our lives with a what if factor. Writers write what they know and writing these types of books help me exorcize the demons in my past.

Some writing I do as exercises or shorts to languish away their lives in notebooks or flash
drives. I keep everything I write good or bad. For my southern fiction persona, it's tales set in Georgia. Of course because I live in Georgia. The Sacrificial Lamb, The Illusion of Tranquility (yet to be published) and Surviving Hank (yet to be published) are three examples that started out as exercises, but the main protagonist and antagonist wouldn't shut up after the story or piece was written. They may have started out as a 500 word short-short or a 1,000 word short, but took off a life of their own in a self generating novel. As a writer ya gotta love when that happens.

They don't fit the mold as cozy, southern murder mysteries as southern fiction is usually defined, but they are hard and gritty. They deal with issues like child abuse/molestation, divorce, affairs, adultery, and yes, murder...the messier side of life. The question asked is not whodunit, but will he/she get caught and is justice served. Unfortunately these are also written from my journals and are exorcizing demons.

All that being said, I often wonder about my zombie side step. Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption, Zombie Apocalypse: Travelers (yet to be published), and Zombie Apocalypse: Controllers (yet to be published).

Whatever possessed me to write about zombies? I didn't even like zombies until a year a half ago. No, I really didn't say that out loud. < Er, um, cough, cough> I've been a zombie fan my whole life. Yeah that's what I meant to type my fingers are possessed!

What was my motivation for this series...a fluke and marriage between a news event and my striving to be self sufficient. I have experience in medicine and a self-sufficient lifestyle. The fluke was a halfway listened to news blurb on Fox News about the CDC issuing a Zombie Apocalypse alert. Within literally months, the first story was written, the second outlined and halfway written, and the third having a handful of new details and scenes tying into the first two. It took on a life of it's own for a series. I've never written a series before nor had any desire to do so until this one. I much preferred writing the stand alone books with the possibility of a sequel at best, if my audience wanted one.

Not all my stories are self generating. Those stories usually fall by the wayside within ten chapters. It's too much like work. Does anybody really like to work when creating? Sure as I've said on this blog numerous times, you must do your homework prior to writing, but writing should be fun. I've quit better jobs and for more money than writing generates for me.

Don't get me wrong, writing is hard work especially the editing and rewriting parts. By the time the rewriting, editing, rewriting, editing and editing parts roll around you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or maybe not if it takes forever.<sigh> See all those books listed above marked "yet to be published?" Yep you've guessed it...they are awaiting further editing and rewrites.

So what is your motivation behind your book and what tricks do you use to stay motivated during the process?

Keep writing and loving the Lord

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday Tumbling Term ~Motivation

The term for today is Motivation. What motivates an indie writer to continue writing?

1. the act or an instance of motivating, or providing with a reason to act in a certain way. Synonyms: motive, inspiration, inducement, cause, impetus.
2. the state or condition of being motivated.

3. something that motivates; inducement; incentive.

What is the set of circumstances which causes a writer to write? I can
only speak for myself on this but here goes...
  • Right a wrong
  • Disperse information
  • As Paul Harvey used to say, tell "the rest of the story"
  • A story which won't die in your head
  • Characters who would play a role in your story won't shut up
  • Demons need exorcising
  • The more you write; the more appears to be written-self generating story line.
  • I want to be rich like (insert the author's name here)
I've used all of these except the last one.

The first, second, and third are the motivating factors behind 99% of all nonfiction I have written in the past and will in the future. I'm an advocate at heart. If I feel an audience in general have the wrong impression about something, I go out of my way to set the record straight, disperse the correct information, and tell the rest of the story.

My first nonfiction was a case in point. Mommie, I Wish I'd Never Heard of Arfritis, was a parent's journal of day to day life of a child with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. For the next twelve years (that's how long I was with the Arthritis Foundation) in the promotion and dispersion of this nonfiction, I heard two comments repeatedly... 1) "I didn't know this disease affected children," and 2) "Thank you."

If I had a dollar for every time I heard it, it would fund a small research wing devoted to care and treatment of children with JRA. The first comment was from people who now know, and the second was from parents of the children afflicted with JRA.

Need another example? Are You a Survivalist or a Prepper?
 I watched the show on the National Geographic channel about preppers. It was so full of hype and "crazy" people it gave preparedness a bad rap. These folks aren't crazy. Possibly a little misguided but their basic reasoning is sound in how they go about preparedness. The same thing goes for Dual Survival and a host of other reality shows on television.

I wanted to set the record straight with some seat of your pants common sense on how I prepare on a dime. This was the first book of a series of at least five I had outlined.

I don't know about you, but I haven't got a sugar daddy stashed away or thousands of dollars to spend like the people depicted on the show. We all prepare for a hurricane or tornado, don't we? It's the same thing except you do it on a larger scale. You learn how to be self sufficient. It's something our grandparents or great-grandparents knew but we've lost in the modern, technological lifestyles we live in now.

For fiction the next four are the premise behind all my fiction works. Some kernels for stories just don't pan out but others take on a life of their own. The last ones are the ones that get finished and published. But more on this tomorrow.

I wanted to touch base on the last one. For me personally, this is probably the worst reason to be a writer. The odds are 95% against you being either rich or famous for writing a book. Sure there are success stories, blogs and books galore on the topic, but the fact is even if you copy everything they say...you won't be rich or famous unless you change your name to Rich N. Famous or have it tattooed on your butt. It's a nice pipe dream though. Eeking out a living wage by being a writer takes time, productivity, and building an audience. But don't let me deter you from trying. I encourage you to prove me wrong.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday Mailbox ~ Motivation

It's Monday and it's time to visit Tilda the mailbox and answer your questions. What motivates a writer is the topic for this week.

So the question I keep getting is how I stay motivated to keep writing. AC, RJ, FT, and GR, this answer is for you.

Basically I don't stay motivated to write. I write when I'm motivated or have the time to devote to writing. This is different than anything you may have read on writing sites. I'm a firm believer in that old adage, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.

Fighting too many things at once and trying to be creative writing is doomed from the start.
  • You are rowing against the tide which doubles any underlying frustration. 
  • Fighting and snipping at yourself will only make you feel bad.
  • You, above all others, knows what to be done so why badger yourself.
  • Do you honestly write better when forced to?
Yes, realize that you are indeed rowing against the tide. I haven't written a new word in my manuscript for almost eight weeks! Between my ongoing therapy sessions, doctor appointments, family in town, my DH (darling hubby) stuff, I just haven't had thirty minutes to sit down at my computer and write. Not because of lack of creativity just juggling my time schedule. With interruptions from doctors and pharmacies, new and old medicines and their side effects during the waking hours my brain was going ninety to nothing on everything else.

No amount of condoling or making myself feel bad about not writing would free up more time. Time is a finite thing and so are my energy levels. Do I feel bad enough about not writing, you bethcha! Did I want to write, yep. Could I write, nope. The best I could manage was thinking about writing.

I above anybody else knows my limits and a humongous honey-do-list. If I beat myself up about the things I can't control, I'd have no self worth left. Badgering myself about it just wastes time that could be used to shorten my honey-do-list. On any given day there are eighteen permanently placed things on this list that do not change. Everything else is squeezed in.

Isn't it the same for everyone? Even an expert of time management, like I like to think of myself, have stumbling times. They may be just a day or days, weeks, or months (yes I have those times too). I allow myself to have that freedom and piece of mind. Nothing kills creativity than pressure.

Jacqui Oakley Illustrations
Now if, everything is hunky-dory and I have a half hour here and there, I'll write. Sometimes I'll even write for hours. Those are highly motivated times. I'll sit and knock out a thousand words an hour. Those are the good times although far between in my life. While it may be helpful for those just starting out writing to make a schedule to write everyday, I being a seasoned writer have difficulty writing every day. I keep saying when my life slows down a bit maybe I'll write everyday. The problem is my life may appear to be slower now that I'm not working, but it is way busier because it takes me twice as long to do things.

What motivates a writer to write...the same thing that motivates readers to read. The persistent what ifs bouncing around in your gray matter, characters so rich and alive that they just can't be stilled, and a story that can't be reasoned away. Sure book sales can be a great motivator if the reason you are writing is money, but is that all it takes to be a writer? What sequence of events makes any writer sit in front of a computer screen for the hours, weeks, and months it takes to complete a rough draft? The answer is in some of the things I mentioned above.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Stroke Survival ~ Aphasia- Speech Deficits Revisited

The response from my aphasia blogs have garnered a lot of questions and responses so I thought to revisit this subject today and give you a progress report. Since I am no longer in speech therapy because of best use of my rehab visits, I started a seat-of-my-pants training schedule as you may have read about in previous posts.

In college, I learned for each hour of class time I needed to spend two hours in study time. With stroke deficits, the ratio is more like for every hour of professional time (with the therapist) spent I have to do six hours of study/ practice time. It boggles the mind doesn't it? Especially when you consider the fact that I spend six hours in professional therapy hours a week, it equates to thirty-six hours of at home practice. That's a huge chunk of time.

Is it necessary? It depends. How bad do you want to recover? For me, I want/need to recover all that I can. Do I have the stamina to continue this for the years it may take? I dunno. We'll have to see. I'm almost a year out from my stroke and have continued my therapy program adding new, fun ways to do it to keep it interesting.

James at Easter 2013
When I first struggled with forming words and creating sounds, I used my grandson. Yes, I said used because, being less than a year old, he was trying to form sounds and words also. We were in the same boat. He was learning and I was relearning. Not to mention he's cute and just loves his Oma (the German word for Grandmother). He would sit on my lap in the wheelchair mimicking me. It was fun to watch him as I did my exercises for hours on end. I'm still amazed by the attention span this baby, then a seven-month old, had.

I had to learn how to form the words right with my lips because my husband reads lips. He's deaf. The sounds wasn't necessary except for communicating with the outside world. But we have family which needs to be talked to so making myself understood was important also.

I often forget he can't hear in our conversations until he reminds me that my head was turned away. He'll say, "I can't hear you. Repeat that."

This is just one of my life's little challenges I have to overcome with aphasia. I find the more I practice the better I get. When we go to McDonalds, I'll stand at the counter and order. I remember what my speech therapist told me, "Slow, loud and clear." So I might stumble over my words and get weird looks from the cashier or waitress in a restaurant, who cares? I'm practicing and vocalizing. If I get too flustered I can always point in the menu or make the symbol for the number I'm ordering with my fingers. The point is that I'm making an effort. Not making an effort or letting someone else do the talking for me is easier, but what benefit is it to me and my recovery?

The words are coming easier now without the extremely long pauses in between. I'll still lose words and have to back track when speaking. Using inappropriate words for things- not so much as a few months ago. I'm constantly being corrected by those around me in a loving way. I can always count on my #2 and #4 daughters to correct with humor. My #4 daughter also suffers from a mild form of aphasia. In that case, it's the affected correcting the affected, and we'll poke fun at each other.

The real trick is when both of us can't remember a word. But there are usually others around to play twenty questions. Our oldest daughter will cock her hand at the wrist and hit her chest and go, "D-a-a-a-a-h!" in a totally stupid way. My husband will outstretch his arms in front of him, with palms out clapping, and barking like a seal. Either response brings laughter. Having this kind of loving support is essential to my recovering my speech.

While I have trouble speaking, I found it has been easier to find the words when I type. So increasing to amount I blog is working. At least it is getting easier as I go along. This is also my home therapy regime. I imagine my readers are tired of my constant blogs, but this I do for me. It helps with my strategy and planning deficits too. Having a plan makes it easier on my mind for focusing. This particular blog was written April 10th for example to give me time to find any errors. I read this blog aloud to my husband to practice my vocal and reading skills. It's a relearning triangle that goes full circle. It's how we learned these skills in the first place.

I noticed I have my kitty speaking voice intonations back. When that happened, I dunno. What is a kitty speaking voice? It's that cute, cuddly voice I use towards my cats and young grandchildren. Like what you would use when confronted with the kitten to the right and how would you say it? The higher pitched, sing songy voice we all have and use. So I'm not quite strictly monotone anymore. Yeah me!

I still have not managed humor or sarcasm yet, but I'm confident I'll get those back too.

The cognitive difficulties, I'll address in another post.

Nothing is impossible with determination!