Stroke Memories The back of my head was excruciatingly painful. Someone’s arm and hand moved in front of me when my husband was on the other side trying to help me sit up. I gasped. Who was sitting next to me? It was my own arm and hand that had moved. It ... First Person on the Last Page
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First Person on the Last Page  |   August 01, 2010
Stroke Memories
Author Notes
  • Donna (Beaubien) Budzenski, MA, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist working with pre-schoolers in the Muskegon public schools in west Michigan. She also has worked with adults in hospital and rehabilitation settings. Contact her at debudzen@gmail.com.
    Donna (Beaubien) Budzenski, MA, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist working with pre-schoolers in the Muskegon public schools in west Michigan. She also has worked with adults in hospital and rehabilitation settings. Contact her at debudzen@gmail.com.×
Article Information
Special Populations / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / First Person on the Last Page
First Person on the Last Page   |   August 01, 2010
Stroke Memories
The ASHA Leader, August 2010, Vol. 15, 55. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.15092010.55
The ASHA Leader, August 2010, Vol. 15, 55. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.15092010.55

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The back of my head was excruciatingly painful. Someone’s arm and hand moved in front of me when my husband was on the other side trying to help me sit up. I gasped. Who was sitting next to me?
It was my own arm and hand that had moved. It also appeared to be strangely moving out of sync with what I had expected to see. Fear gripped my heart as I considered that I might be having a stroke. I knew exactly what a stroke was because of my work as a speech-language pathologist treating adults who had experienced the trauma associated with a stroke or head injury.
During the winter of 2007, I sustained a large intracerebral hemorrhage, followed by a week in the intensive care unit (ICU), five weeks of physical, occupational, and speech-language rehabilitation, and then home-based and outpatient therapy. Prior to the stroke I was a happy, healthy, active, woman with a full-time job as an SLP. I was married and had one child in college and two in high school.
What caused the stroke? Some believed it was due to high blood pressure, and others thought it was due to a congenital blood vessel malformation that started leaking. Fortunately, I didn’t die; but while in the hospital I found myself diagnosing deficit areas, one at a time.
I tried to read, but couldn’t. I stared at the clock in my room, but couldn’t figure out the time. I couldn’t eat, walk, or use the bathroom independently. I was unable to grasp a pencil. My right side was paralyzed. I had word-finding difficulties and although I could recognize faces, I couldn’t remember names. I couldn’t recall the sequence of events for bathing myself. I had hemianopsia and lost half of my visual field.
Rehabilitation began in ICU after I was stable. At first progress was slow, but after a short time I gained some movement in my right side. Soon I was able to grasp things in my hand. My writing began as weak wavy lines on a marker board. As I continued to recover, I discovered additional things that I couldn’t do. Initially everything was overwhelming and unbelievable, but the recovery would be nothing short of a miracle.
Eventually I regained the use of my limbs, although I still have mild spasticity in my right leg. My vision returned. I learned to drive again and returned to work. I am extremely grateful to those who provided my medical care and intervention services, in addition to the encouragement, love, and prayers received from so many people in my life.
Having a stroke has changed my perspective on my work as an SLP. My compassion is even greater as is my motivation to help others communicate.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
August 2010
Volume 15, Issue 9