How I Got My Speech Back On Nov. 12, 2011, I spoke at my daughter’s wedding reception. It was just five minutes long, but for me it was more than just a speech, it was an epiphany. Four years and 11 months ago I had a stroke. Today, after hard work and the help of my ... E-luminations
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E-luminations  |   February 01, 2012
How I Got My Speech Back
Author Notes
  • Bill Hrncir, lives in Laredo, Texas, where he runs a warehouse and distribution company, a trucking company, and a steel store. He has been married for 30 years and has two. Follow Hrncir’s blog documenting his recovery and treatment at billsblog.webs.com.
    Bill Hrncir, lives in Laredo, Texas, where he runs a warehouse and distribution company, a trucking company, and a steel store. He has been married for 30 years and has two. Follow Hrncir’s blog documenting his recovery and treatment at billsblog.webs.com.×
Article Information
Special Populations / E-luminations
E-luminations   |   February 01, 2012
How I Got My Speech Back
The ASHA Leader, February 2012, Vol. 17, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.EL.17022012.np
The ASHA Leader, February 2012, Vol. 17, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.EL.17022012.np
On Nov. 12, 2011, I spoke at my daughter’s wedding reception. It was just five minutes long, but for me it was more than just a speech, it was an epiphany. Four years and 11 months ago I had a stroke. Today, after hard work and the help of my team, my speech and mobility are beginning to take off.
I am an athlete and competitor. The day of my stroke I was running when I collapsed. Three surgeries later I was lying in bed, and doctors were telling my family I would not talk or walk again. They did not know who they were dealing with.
Three years ago—almost two years into my recovery—the Austin Speech Labs family welcomed me into their school. Each Wednesday night I would ride 235 miles from Laredo, Texas, to Austin and spend Thursday and Friday in school. There Shilpa Shamapant, Shelley Adair, and the University of Texas speech volunteers would help me. I read the 26 letters of the alphabet, sentences, stories, and computer drills. Now I’m reading out loud. I still struggle with “been or be,” “take or talk,” “for or of or from,” “s” or no “s,” but I think I will have it down soon.
But my recovery is not centered just on my speech. As an athlete, I feel my best when I am doing something physical. I was working at St. David’s Rehab when I met Amy Silver, Jennifer Perez, Kathy Bolstorff, and Bob Whitford. Amy’s biofeedback machine showed life in my right arm and leg. She and I would go to the pool and exercise. Kathy moved my legs and Jennifer moved my arms. Bob, who is a Paralympic athlete and is missing one arm, taught me how to handle my bike.
Shortly after, my doctors began using Botox, electromyography, and an ultrasound machine on my right arm and leg and I began to notice a big difference. One day at the doctor’s office, Matt Rigby came in and wanted to demonstrate a new hand and leg rehabilitation system. I said “yes,” and jumped at the opportunity to be on the forefront of something new that might help my arm and leg improve.
Matt referred me to the Texas NeuroRehab Center in Austin where I had spent the early days after my stroke. They took me in and starting rehabbing my limbs. My muscles are being reeducated and my limbs are relearning how to talk to my brain. For the past six months I’ve been doing martial arts. Master Byung Lee is 56 years old, but he seems more like 26. Three stroke students have been with him. Under Master Lee I do it all; boxing and kicking, “pressure” point, walk on pebbles, “relax and breathe,” and exercise. Every Friday I work out with my coach, while Mondays and Wednesdays she e-mails my workouts to me in Laredo. A lot of running and a lot of “movement preparation.” My trainer in Laredo works with me on Saturdays and Mondays with sit-ups and boxing. Everyone is pushing me and I rely on them to keep pushing.
Jill Bolte Taylor (author of “Stroke of Insight” and keynote speaker at ASHA’s 2011 Convention) said her stroke recovery took eight years. Almost five years since my stroke, my journey is well underway. I know I will talk and move my right arm and leg before you know it—three years from now if Taylor is right.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
February 2012
Volume 17, Issue 2