Erin’s experience with Aphasia
At the time of Erin’s stroke, she was a full-time Mum who enjoyed driving, seeing her favourite cover band Mammoth, and travelling to Golden Bay and the West Coast. She enjoyed both the sunniest and the wettest parts of the South Island and enjoyed being creative with craft in her spare time. Erin was a talker, Sue “couldn’t get a word in”, and Erin’s Grandad was able to have long conversations with her from the weather to “really weird topics”.
On the 6th of June, 2020, Erin had a stroke. Now, she experiences a number of challenges including weakness on the right side of her body making it more difficult to walk and do things for herself. She also has aphasia, a communication disorder that makes everyday interactions so much harder.
Erin can understand what people say but finds it difficult to put her thoughts into words and get her message across. As a result, this has changed the dynamics of many of Erin’s relationships with her friends and family. Erin works hard to connect with people particularly her son by using other forms of communication and connection such as quality time, affection and asking questions about his day.
Since her stroke, Erin has improved every day. She’s gone from barely being able to say yes and no, to saying five or six words in a sentence. She has been consistently surprising her friends and family with the way she’d just come out with a comment or joke mid-conversation.
Erin recently attended an engagement party and people couldn’t believe how far Erin had come. Erin wants her friends and family to know that she’s still her “fabulous” self and still wants to engage and laugh with people. Erin’s progress is a testament to the determination and enthusiasm she has shown throughout her journey.
When asked what she would like people to know about aphasia Erin gave the following tips:
1. I am still me
2. I can understand what you say
3. I need time to get my words out
4. Keep it simple
5. Use gestures to help me communicate