Sunday, April 10, 2011

What Comes Around...

One of the frustrating about aphasia for me is the lost opportunities to make snide remarks. I'm too slow.

A few days ago, Neal and I were driving, and the Diane Rehm Show came on NPR.

I couldn't say it, but I wanted to say: a southern drawl is nice, but she sounds like a southerner on a big dose of tranquilizers. Or: isn't time for her to retire?

Neal was about to turn off the car. I was still trying to formulate a witty remark.

"I wonder if she had a stroke," Neal said.

I hadn't connected the dots. Her voice sounds a little like... mine, I realized. But without my grammatical mistakes.

That evening we went online to find out about her. Diane Rehm has Focal Dysphonia, a neurological disorder.

One of the good things about aphasia is that sometimes I'm too slow to make stupid remarks.


  1. Your parents knew what they were doing when they called you Grace.

  2. Being forced to take your time does have an upside I guess. lol

    I have never heard of that lady, but it sounds very inspiring that someone with vocal problem can be an on air personality. Good for her.

  3. One of the great things about a blog is that I can go back and correct my errors in spelling and grammar, add missing words, and fix wandering thoughts that don't make sense. When I republish the post no one knows I've made mistakes. Technology rocks because it makes me look like I don't have a language deficit.

  4. I've been listening to Diane Rehm for some time now, and her speech has improved from what it was formerly. I thought perhaps she'd had some kind of surgery on her vocal cords. To me, she doesn't sound at all like someone who's had a stroke. But it's very clear that speaking is an effort for her. And it's heartening that she can continue her career on a radio program, despite this disability!

  5. I have been reading your blog for a while now, it's very uplifting for me. My young healthy mother had a stroke in october, and now has global aphasia and apraxia. Even though you cannot speak quickly in conversations, I am delighted to see that you can type out anything you want! I'm hoping someday my mom will be able to do what you are doing here. Thanks so much for always sharing.


  6. Thanks for reading, Rachel. As Rebecca Dutton (see above) said, "Technology rocks!" You should see my rough drafts.

    I'll be thinking about you and your mother. It's a long journey.

  7. I've listened to Diane Rehm for years, and I've known about her speech disorder and thought more highly of her for having continued to do her show in spite of that. She's a wicked smart lady, an incisive interviewer, and, as I know now that I've followed your lead and looked at her bios on the web, one stunningly gorgeous woman. There have been some snarky comments posted on her "ability" to be a radio personality, but I say let her disability be a lesson to us all. She's lost none of her edge or intelligence, just some of her voice.

  8. Yesterday I was listening to On Point on the radio, and realized they were interviewing Clay Christensen (a professor at Harvard Business School, famous for his work on disruptive innovation). I was surprised to hear him stumbling over his words, taking a long time to get full sentences out...and suddenly I thought, I wonder if he's had a stroke? I just looked him up, and sure enough, he had an ischemic stroke in July 2010 (got TPA right away), and has aphasia. (See more at He is now back to public speaking, lingering aphasia and all.

    His interview was about fixing America's health care ( and I recommend listening to it. His multiple health crises (cancer and diabetes in addition to the stroke!) give him an insider's perspective on the problems with our health care system, and especially how it fails people with chronic health issues.