Sometimes words are not possible because what has occurred is unspeakable. But sometimes words are literally not possible because of a biological bolt of lightening, a stroke. The work in this gallery speaks to the second situation: The aftermath of stroke and aphasia.

A stroke can cause a number of problems, of varying degrees of severity. When, after a stroke or other brain injury, someone retains their intellect, but has a specific problem in one or more of the aspects of language, the disorder is called Aphasia.

I have created the work in this Gallery in the service of my own coping and healing. The love of my life, my dear Frank, suffered a massive stroke two and a half years ago. Amongst other struggles, he has been silenced by aphasia. He is working heroically in all therapies, including speech therapy. He has made, and continues to make remarkable progress.

We have a very positive attitude towards recovery and a good support system. Having said that, anyone who has experienced a loved one having a severe stroke or severe aphasia will understand how difficult it is.

As caregivers, sometimes we feel guilty about feeling overwhelmed, despairing or angry. We fear these emotions mean that we are not coping or not trying hard enough. There are things we feel or think but do not believe it is acceptable to say them out loud. We fear that no one will understand or want to hear. But the reality is that we are dealing with a situation of suffering that eventually gets easier, but never goes away, fully.

With these word-panels, my intent is to be the caregiver's voice and shed light on this darker emotional reality. Even when there is progress and hope, coping with stroke and aphasia is difficult and sometimes heartbreaking.

This body of work uses words, with a font that is broken and in a format that is not immediately easy to read. In these ways, I try to make visible some of the aspects of the difficulties of language caused by aphasia.

There is hope here, but mostly this work reveals the painful thoughts and feelings that sometimes torment us. We may not want to feel them. We may not want to say them. But they are a normal part of living with this trauma.

I created this work because those of us who are caregivers often feel alone. Because even though I have a lot of support, I often feel alone.

I also created this work because, as with many things in life, if you have not experienced something yourself, you cannot really understand. I hope these panels can provide a glimpse of the difficult reality of life after stroke and with aphasia.
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