May Newsletter

Angela’s Letter

Dear Friends,

In the May issue of B.R.A.I.N.’s Newsletter we are addressing the second theme of the three part series, “The 3 C’s: Caring, Communicating and Connecting.”  Webster defines communication as “the imparting or  inter exchange of thoughts.”  As a Speech Language Pathologist, it means so much more.  There are brain-injured adults who cannot speak or utter a distinguishing sound, but they can communicate love with their eyes.  Speech communication allows one’s mind to be heard.  When someone has a stroke affecting their left temporal lobe, language becomes significantly impaired.  In their mind, they know what they wants to say, but cannot find or retrieve the words  to express themselves.  Suzie Strichard, a seven year stroke survivor, told me that she saw the looks of sorrow on her family’s faces, saw the look of fright on her brother’s face (a neurosurgeon) after reviewing her MRI, watched her daughters cry, but Suzie could not utter a word.  She finally said her first word after many weeks, and the word was “no.”  Amily Hung, another brain injury survivor, can make sounds but uses her eyes to communicate in a system of letter by letter blinking to spell out her wants and needs.  She can type on her computer with one finger that was spared in her quadriplegic state.  For Amily, typing a sentence can take 10 minutes.

We take so much for granted.  A  former client of mine, David, had tonsil and tongue cancer.  He underwent major surgery to remove the tumors.  He was left without a tongue but could communicate volumes.  He told me that his negative and verbally abusive disposition created the tumors in his mouth.  David lost his wife and children because of his harsh tongue.  He was grateful for losing his tongue as his mind, heart and soul were saved.  He recommitted his life and during his last 6 months of life, renewed his relationship with his children.  David’s story demonstrates that the tongue can be used to speak both love and malevolence.

There are 140 references to the tongue in the Bible.  There are only two books on the topic of communicating with those who are voiceless.  Conversations with the Voiceless is a  book written by a pastor on communicating with the voiceless.  John Wessells found a desire to enter into the wards, residences and hospitals of brain-injured adults to sing to them and play music. He found amazing joy in the outcomes of these visits (read below on where you can purchase this highly recommended book).

A few weeks ago, fifteen members of F.B.I., Friends of Brain Injury enjoyed listening to Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet with the  Pacific Symphony.  When Art Nadal, a two year stroke survivor, was asked on his opinion of the concert, he lifted his arm and uttered “it was magnificent.”  Others in attendance were thrilled to hear the brilliant conductor, Carl St. Clair provide a tutorial of the sound the instruments should make and the meaning behind each sound played.  Ron Walkington said it best with an enormous smile.

We are grateful for the ability to communicate with each other in a written format as well as seeing each other at our weekly F.B.I. sessions.  We must improve the way we use our tongues.  We should be honest and Christ-like.  We should think hard on what we say and realize that any moment the words that spill out cannot be erased or taken back.

Thank you for reading our monthly newsletters.  We truly appreciate the donations of time and money that assist us in moving closer to our dream.

With sincerity I close,

Angela Mandas, MA CCC
Speech Language Pathologist
F.B.I. Group Facilitator

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