When the power of speech is stolen, life and love go on

ABC Illawarra

By

Sarah Moss

Posted

January 31, 2018 17:37:28

Video: Living and loving with Aphasia

(ABC News)
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Sanctuary Point 2540
And she’s a healer, a natural healer. Everyone knows, and everyone accepts us,” Ms Cartwright said. Photo:
Kerry and Jaye love to garden and hope to start their own business one day. That’s a part of her,” Ms Cartwright said.Use of card helps others understandMs Flanders is an Indigenous Australian whose heritage includes Native American and Torres Strait Islander blood.Ms Cartwright said the stroke, and developing aphasia, had changed their lives forever but there were so many things to be grateful for in their six-year relationship.”We hug, kiss, hold hands no matter where we are, we just don’t care anymore. “We’ve got an outdoor pavilion on Koori land near Kerry’s favourite spot — a fishing pond.” (Supplied: The Australian Aphasia Association)
“I’m grateful that we were together for such a long time. It is not a problem with my intelligence.”Using the card is part of life now for the couple and Ms Cartwright does everything she can to help Ms Flanders be more independent. “They told us that on the day we shouldn’t do anything except relax and enjoy, so they are doing all the arrangements. What is aphasia?Aphasia is usually caused by a stroke or traumatic brain injuryCommunication problems can include loss of speech, understanding others, reading, writing, using numbers, gesturingThere is no medical cureCommunication problems can last a long time, but people can improve with therapyPeople with aphasia are competent and intelligent and they still have emotions, thoughts and opinionsSource: Australian Aphasia Association
Her symptoms were so severe that she also lost the use of her right arm, making writing impossible.”She couldn’t move. She couldn’t walk, couldn’t do anything but she’s very strong willed. Photo:
The cards are designed to help individuals with aphasia to communicate with people they are meeting for the first time. (Supplied: Sarah Moss)
The couple, who live on the South Coast of NSW, are looking forward to getting married in March with the support of Marriage Equality Gilmore and the South Coast Rainbow community.”Friends are organising the wedding,” Ms Cartwright said. Thank you for your patience.”‘Not a problem with intelligence’On the other side it says: “Aphasia is a communication difficulty, usually caused by a stroke or brain injury. It means that I really know Kerry — I know what she likes, and dislikes, and I can read her body language,” she said.These days the couple are also finding the use of a simple, small card is enormously helpful in getting others to understand.On one side of aphasia ID card, it says: “Sometimes I find it hard to speak, listen, read or write. You can help me by speaking clearly and giving me time to answer. When Kerry Flanders suffered a stroke three years ago that left her unable to speak, it was the determination and love of her partner Jaye Cartwright that helped the couple find the strength to cope.Ms Flanders was lucky to survive and the episode left her with a condition known as aphasia, a language disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate.