You can mark a date when aphasia begins. It is easy to find aphasia’s starting point when it occurs due to stroke or brain injury. Or a person can state a diagnostic date when it comes to a brain tumour or primary progressive aphasia. But it is much harder to mark the date when a person is considered recovered.

This is an idea Lauren Marks grapples with our current online book club selection, A Stitch of Time.

When Are You Recovered Enough?

Lauren meets a professor writing a book about young men and women who have survived a stroke. They have lunch together and Lauren writes on page 327,

It didn’t take long before I confided in her about a conundrum with which I was struggling. I felt that though I had rebuilt my vocabulary and skills, I wasn’t even close to the level of language recovery I wanted. If a full recovery was never possible with aphasia, when should I consider myself recovered enough?

It’s an important question because it leads to many other questions: How does the person know the right time to stop speech therapy? How do you know if you will continue to improve? How do you know whether it’s worth dedicating time and energy to trying something new?

Determining Your Definition of Recovery

The professor points out that recovery will look different for each individual, and defining recovery comes down to a person’s personal needs. On page 328 she states,

Recovery looks different for different people. For someone who wasn’t interested in language in the first place, they sometimes feel like their language is as good as it will ever be in the first months after their stroke. But someone who made their career in words? Who is to say when they are recovered enough?

In other words, recovery will look different for the individual depending on how much they depended on words before developing aphasia. While no one wants to struggle with language, some professions use words more than others. As a writer and actress, Lauren was seeking a certain type of recovery.

For Lauren, recovery also tied into figuring out how to circumvent aphasia. She used tools, such as digital textbooks, and acknowledged her language foibles, making it easier to circumvent them. Recovery wasn’t a time period when language came easily; it was a time when she knew how to get around aphasia.

What does recovery look like to you?

Photo by Szűcs László on Unsplash