Monday, July 25, 2011


When I was young, my family lived in Tokyo for a year. I didn't speak Japanese. But I had a good sense of direction, I loved maps, and I loved independence. After school, I often rode the trains to other parts of the city to explore. Alone. I was 11 years old.

Last week, I made my first outing without any help at all since the stroke. I made an appointment with a doctor, myself; the next day, I called the cab to go see the doctor, myself; I spoke to the doctor, myself; I called the cab for the way home, myself. The trip was two miles, round trip.

I know that I could have done it a few months earlier, if I had to. But I'm still scared that I won't be able to get home. I can't walk very far. What will happen if my words fail me, as they sometimes do when I'm stressed out? What if I can't spit out my address? My husband's phone number? My name?

Aphasia is much more scary than being a 11-year-old girl alone in a foreign city.


  1. Lots to think about, there, Grace.
    Good for you! in the first place.
    Just as a backup--
    Could you type out a card that says
    "I need to go to this address"?
    (and the cab company's phone number,
    in case you want to get help calling them, too.)
    I love to think of you widening your world.

  2. Thanks, Carolyn. I'm working the card today.

  3. I'm *so* glad you got out!

    OK, now my brain is boiling with practical suggestions.

    Road ID makes a nice ID bracelet that a lot of runners wear, just in case.

    Do you have a cell phone? If you can press buttons, just speed-dial 1, you could call someone for backup if you need to communicate. There are cell phones with big buttons out there if dexterity is an issue.

    The T's The Ride program might be helpful (and cheaper than taxis). It involves a lot of prior scheduling and waiting, though. Talk to Angelika about it sometime.

  4. I spent months with my OT figuring out how to do what you just accomplished. Bravo!!

    The cell phone and the information written out ahead of time are very good ideas.

    Another thing my OT had me do was imagine very specifically what my worse case scenarios would be and then we problem solved ahead of time and made a plan... for "just in case". It helped a lot with my anxiety.

  5. Thanks, Meg. It was good to see you at Habitat.

    We're working things so that I can feel more secure *and* adventurous, including an ID bracelet and a card with important phone numbers.

  6. This was such an honest and compelling post. You are able to help your readers understand how it feels to be afraid and then walk into the light.

  7. Maybe this iPhone app from Canada especially if you need Tim Hortons.

  8. I got a new iPhone, so I decided to check out the free app Dean mentioned above and have been playing with it for the past hour. It is absolutely amazing. They plan on keeping the base level free. Extra touches are coming with a subscription cost which will go toward the purpose supporting technology development and access.