Blog 2 - Claudia Talks About Speech Therapy

Blog #2 - Speech Therapy

Claudia Fortunato-Napolitano is the Happiness Hero at John’s Crazy Socks. While still a young woman (Claudia is only 35), she suffered a major stroke in January 2017. Claudia is an essential team member at John’s Crazy socks working to spread happiness and show every day what is possible when you give a person a chance. Claudia is sharing her recovery in this blog, so others can learn of the challenges facing stroke recovery patients and people in recovery can take strength and inspiration from knowing they are not alone.

I have Aphasia. "Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. Aphasia is always due to injury to the brain-most commonly from a stroke" (National Apraxia Association).

You want the real definition of Aphasia? Aphasia sucks. I can't write well, (this is edited by Kim, one of the John's Crazy Socks Marketing Wizards). I can't talk normally and I get stuck all of time of thinking of words, or I get mixed up with the usage of words.  For example, I did a Facebook post when I got hired by John Crazy's Socks, but I said John's Crazy Shoes, not John’s Crazy Socks. I know it's a sock warehouse, and I did it all the same.  And I am saying socks, but I wrote shoes. I do it all the time.  And as far as my Public Speaking goes, it takes a lot of work.  A LOT.  Now when I go up to speak,  I always have my index cards. Before my stroke, I loved speaking in public.  I would stand in front of a crowd and never needed cards.  I just spoke.  Now all that said, I am getting better all the time. It is slow, so slow, but I really think that I am getting better everyday.

I go for speech therapy twice a week and it is amazing.  It's expensive, and my insurance does not pay for it.  But I have a GoFundMe account, and I thank the world because it is filled with donations from everyone. (Note: I will join John’s Crazy Socks full time on September 16 and receive health insurance which makes me very happy.)

So what do I do about my Aphasia, you are probably asking yourself.  Well there is 3 things that I can work on. 

The first thing is monotonous, but  important.  My speech therapist, Judy Cavallo owner of New York Speech Solutions, has words on a sheet, and we go over them every time we meet.  This time I have to do "Lingua-dentals" and they all begin with the letter "t".  A couple of weeks ago, I did "labio-dentals" and they all begin with the letter "f".  It is rote, but when I get them I am happy.

The second thing is writing.  We read a story, and then there are exercises to make me write.  Now, this is something that I have only then working on for 2 months.  Actually, it has been since I started talking about leaving the Huntington Historical Society.  There was a lot of reasons why I left, but I really did feel like a failure as far as my writing goes (and by public speaking).  Not a failure, but I just wanted to be like I was before the stroke.  And, we work on it.  And I am writing paragraphs, and I am getting better at it.  It is a long road, but I am working on it. 

The third thing that my speech therapist works with me on is word finding.  For instance, she gives me the definitions and I have to give her the word.  That doesn’t bother me.  It’s easy.  When I think back to the first time I did this, it was hard.  In fact, I could not answer half of them.  But now, I answer 80% of them, maybe more.  So that is progress!!!

So, I go to speech therapy twice a week and I work on the three tasks.  And, I love Judy, but I would rather not be going to speech therapy.  I would love to work a normal day at my job.  And I do not want to be working at speech therapy homework. 

This week, I wrote a paragraph about camping.  Now, camping is an activity that I know nothing about.  But Ginger was doing it, so I had to write a paragraph about camping.  Now Ginger, Jerome, Holly, and Steven are the characters in my stories.  There are 20 of them, I am on Lesson 12.  So, I have 8 more stories to go and then I am on to a different book.  So, about my paragraph, in my instructions one of the things I had to do was, “What do I bring on my camping trip in terms of food?”  So, I imagined my camping trip, and I said granola bars and peanuts.  I have no idea where that came from, but were it was.  I never eat granola bars but I figured if I am going camping, then I will try granola bars.  And if I don’t like them, hey, at least I have peanuts!  Thank God this was only pretend.

Tune in next week, where I will tell you about my right leg and my right hand.  And since the stroke, they don’t work the same way that they used to.

Every day, every week, I take more steps. It is hard, but I keep getting better.