Professional Concern, Personal Joy An SLP struggles as her best friend begins a slow recovery from a brain aneurysm. First Person/Last Page
Free
First Person/Last Page  |   December 01, 2017
Professional Concern, Personal Joy
Author Notes
  • Ann DeMarco, MS, CCC-SLP, is a clinician and clinical coordinator at the Speech and Hearing Center of Hunterdon Healthcare in Flemington, New Jersey. awdemarco@hotmail.com
    Ann DeMarco, MS, CCC-SLP, is a clinician and clinical coordinator at the Speech and Hearing Center of Hunterdon Healthcare in Flemington, New Jersey. awdemarco@hotmail.com×
Article Information
Swallowing, Dysphagia & Feeding Disorders / School-Based Settings / Healthcare Settings / Normal Language Processing / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / First Person/Last Page
First Person/Last Page   |   December 01, 2017
Professional Concern, Personal Joy
The ASHA Leader, December 2017, Vol. 22, 72. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.22122017.72
The ASHA Leader, December 2017, Vol. 22, 72. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.22122017.72
I have known my best friend Ann since high school. I am not sure exactly when or where we met but she would remember. We were “the Anns” throughout high school, and we were always together.
We remained friends after high school. I became a speech-language pathologist and she became an accountant. We were each other’s maid of honor and we watched each other’s kids grow up. We were there for each other when our moms aged and passed away.
We stopped talking for a short period. I don’t remember why, but she would. Ann was always the talkative one. She could talk to anyone about anything and never allow a lull in a conversation. She was always organizing trips to New York to see a play or a concert or getting us together in her backyard. She made sure I (the now single one) was included whenever she could. She remembered birthdays and anniversaries and was always there with food when someone lost a loved one. Ann would always say, “I saw so-and-so from high school! Remember them?” I didn’t, but she did. She was my memory.
In June 2017, I got a text from her husband: “Ann had a brain aneurysm. She is going have surgery tomorrow.” I was terrified. I knew what that could mean because I had seen the results so many times before. I frantically sought out more information and learned that the situation was not great. But there was hope that she would make it.
I finally saw her three days later in ICU. She was alive but had an incision from one side of her head to the other. She could talk, move and recognize me, but she was confused and agitated. The SLP in me wanted to know more. Where in the brain was the aneurysm? Was there more bleeding? What did the MRI show?
However, in that moment, I could only be the best friend who sat close to her, showed her pictures on my phone of random things that kept her calm, held her hand and tried to make her laugh. As the days went on, I gave thoughts and suggestions when her husband and daughter asked my professional opinion. But I realized that there were other professionals taking care of her and handling her case.
She improved slowly. As a best friend, I rejoiced. As an SLP, I was concerned that she wasn’t improving as quickly as I thought she would have. When Ann said something that made sense, I marked it as progress as an SLP, and kissed and hugged her as a best friend.
Ann’s confabulations have been the most challenging. With my 25-plus years of experience as an SLP working mostly with adults in outpatient and acute care, I knew it was a severe case. As an SLP, I knew I could help by just listening to what she said and being honest with her when I didn’t understand. As a best friend, I could use my familiarity with her to interpret and acknowledge what she was trying to say.
Ann is finally home and getting intensive outpatient therapy. She has come a long way but has just as far to go to recover her memory and word-finding skills. But her personality is still there. She still wants to talk to everyone, she wants to cook meals for her family and go to work and plan activities—but she can’t do all those things yet, and sometimes gets frustrated.
But when I visit or call her on the phone, we talk—and as her best friend, I know now that I must do my best to be her memory.
0 Comments
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Name
Comment Title
Comment


This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
FROM THIS ISSUE
December 2017
Volume 22, Issue 12