Landis: Stroke victim at age 60, became ‘prisoner of his words’

Since the disease, DIY has become his cure. He points to the birdhouses, the owl’s nest box he’s just made and just installed. He also introduces his dog Shiro as his companion from the afterlife.

Step by step, always the same unique words that come back: “Yes, that’s it.” Even when there is no question…

Since the disease, DIY has become his cure. He points to the birdhouses, the owl’s nest box he’s just made and just installed. He also introduces his dog Shiro as his companion from the afterlife.

Step by step, always the same unique words that come back: “Yeah, that’s it. Even when there’s no question, even when he doesn’t necessarily think ‘yes.’” Yes that’s it. »

“I learned everything again”

On his mobile phone, Joel Gillies, 63, taps a photo of his ex. He was a teacher in your sensory, that’s the message he wants to get across, until that spring break in 2019 that kept him away from her forever.

“It was on April 24, 2019,” his wife Chantal recalls. “I was away from the races. When I came back at the end of the afternoon, I immediately saw that something had happened, the furniture had been torn down. There I found him paralyzed and no longer responding. I understood it was a cerebrovascular accident, I had already seen it in the past”, Explains his wife, who has become a caregiver.

Joel Gillies was taken to Dax Hospital, and he stayed “five days in intensive care, then stayed in hospital for a long time”. He was then redirected to a rehabilitation center where he “was learning to walk, eat, and grab a spoon.” “He learned everything all over again,” Chantal Gillies continues.

On account of his “incredible perseverance”, he “always did more” than required rehearsals, everything came back…except for the language. “Yeah, that’s it,” interjects Joel, who has severe aphasia.

“Family Disability”

Around the table, Chantal Gillies spoke to her husband with a firm expression: “You don’t have the words anymore. ‘Yes’ replied Joel. ‘You can’t read.’ ” ” yes. “You can’t talk, you can’t write what you want.” “Yes, that’s it.” »

“He can no longer share tales. Others tell where he is.

“Everything that is affected by communication (in the brain, editor’s note) is affected. We may have autonomy, when we omit connections from humans…” his wife said wistfully.

With family and friends still around, “He can no longer share tales. Others are saying where he is,” Chantal Gillies continues. “To talk to him, people often come to me. I tell them, “You can go to him.”

Aphasia is also “a family disability, a real job for those around you.” “Everyone adapts, learning to speak differently, slowly, in turn. But when you forget, when you leave yourself surrounded by children and grandchildren, you quickly tire. You will isolate yourself to come back later. Frustration and anger at not being able to understand and share.

Shiro the dog also became a wonderful companion.

Isabelle Louvier / “Southwest”

Illness inevitably leads to moral suffering. for Joel. to his wife. “For me, the hard thing is that he can’t pronounce my first name, except in the evening to say good night. But otherwise, since I’ve retired, I don’t hear the ringing of my first name anymore. I feel like I’m losing identity. Terrible.”

They communicate with difficulty through cartoon words and audio recordings. Chantal Gillies has high hopes for the Gong tablet app, provided by a speech therapist. By clicking on the pictures, squares, a brief sentence can be formed.

We’ve been told that there can be little progress over time. Perhaps in writing,” for him, a former teacher who loved to read and write so much, “You will break things up,” Chantal adds discreetly.

She “felt very lonely” during the time she joined the Ablaa Association (Basco-Landaise Association for Aphasia Persons and Their Caregivers), of which she became a reference. Our goal is to raise awareness, and create a connection with patients and/or their relatives and health professionals. »

Aphasia accounts for 15,000 to 30,000 cases annually in France.

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