Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday Stroke Survival: It Has a Name! Agraphia

For years now as an author, I've gotten stuck in writing my stories. I just thought it was writers block. But it has another name which I didn't learn until recently.

Now for years, I have talked about my inability to read stories and I choked it up to dyslexia. Yes, having a dyslexic disorder since my last stroke just masked what was going on in my brain. But, it was more involved than that. If only I had a dollar for every time I said, "Wait a minute. Let me see if I can figure out what I wrote." I'd be stinking rich right now.

It was John, at the Stroke Tattler, who mentioned this word when we were discussing future article topics. I, of course, started researching the topic for my own benefit as I do for all possible topics. There it is unquenchable search for knowledge. As I read through all the internet definitions listed for this word, I started recognizing it in me.

I ended up asking my speech therapist and neurologist about it, and could that possibly be part of my problem. They both confirmed the possibility as being part of my aphasia. It actually has a name. It's called agraphia/ dysgraphia. The strange thing about my problem is that I can type and it's almost unnoticeable. This is partially because of the red squiggly lines that appear under problem words. I've mentioned this many times as an inability to spell or form sentences. It was just easier to blame it on writing with my left hand. But I was writing legibly before my second stroke as apparent in my hand written grocery lists. The inability to read my own writing didn't happen until my second stroke.

How can I pinpoint the time frame? By thinking back prior to my second stroke, I was writing a nonfiction book. But suddenly, I could no longer piece the words together. It gives a whole new meaning to writers block. While I thought the second stroke only damaged the previously damaged area because no new impairments were evident, I was wrong.

When I compared my handwritten grocery lists before my second stroke to those afterwards, there is a huge difference. Sometimes it pays to not clean out your purse. Not only did it show the dyslexia in the form of backwards written letters (d for b and transposition errors in numbers), but there were gaps in words spelt where letters should have gone and words I couldn't even read. Big changes. These changes were reinforced when dealing with all the companies like insurance forms, pension plans etc upon my husband's death. I didn't dare attempt filling them in myself. I knew I had a more severe problem than I originally thought just going through my handwritten notes I'd written down during telephone conversations with these entities the week after my husband's death read a month later.

Now, it all makes sense. It's an added benefit to writing this blog. Anyhow it works for me. Now I can actually put a name to it to get to help with it. Thanks John.

Nothing is impossible.


  1. I still have a problem spelling/numbers - I know exactly, for example, my telephone number but I can write/typing phone# with many and/or occasionally errors. I have to look at my writing before I can send it and help with Doc App,...

  2. Agraphia! Now, that's a nifty new term. ;-) I have mild dyslexia. At first, it was just writing and worse when I was fatigued. My students noticed it in my English as opposed to my Latin. Finally, it took over my Latin words, too. Now, it even appears in my typing. God bless the squiggly red lines!


  3. Hi Jo - I just find it so interesting to keep reading how much the brain can deal with, or does in a strange way ... this was a fascinating post ... and I'll remember it. I'm just glad I don't suffer - nor did my mother, albeit she was badly stroked ... at least she was able to talk, couldn't write and could read short sentences at a distance.

    Good luck - thanks for updating us ... Agraphia ... cheers HIlary


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