Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Fish Who Didn't Climb Trees

"I was in the hospital, unable to speak or move, diagnosed as vegetative, yet I could pay a bill on time and not the payee. (That is not vegetative. Obviously I was communicating with someone to get that task done.)"

I tell how I communicated.

In the hospital, I assume I was tested with a communication board. I couldn't see one. Since I couldn't see a communication board, I failed the test. The hospital couldn't communicate with me so I was labeled vegetative (PVS). This is unconscious.

A communication board can simply be the alphabet on a piece of paper. It can be mounted on a board.

Adjustments weren't made for special needs. Educators are familiar with this and the general population is becoming more aware. I am low vision. Vision is now better than in the beginning of my recovery, but it is still low.

Imagine a 3x5 card. Only one letter is on it taking up the whole card. My mother didn't use a communication board. She had a stack of cards. My eyes weren't good enough to see the boards, yet. Of course I failed that test.

Flashcards used to teach the alphabet to young children are the same thing. She would hold up one card and I would blink yes or no for it. She would do this for every word. If a word had 5-letters, then she'd be going through that stack of cards five times. That would be 130 eye blinks from me just to get a single word out. As time progressed, my eyes got better. I could see the letters on a communication board. I was able to now use one! (Around this time, physical therapy had been getting my left arm able to propel a wheel chair. I started pointing to letters on the board with that same arm.)

My mother is the only person who would do this style of communication. Later, after I could say a  word, I was at a hospital where I saw a recreation nurse using a communication board to communicate like this with a patient. That hospital unit soon closed. The patient would have been moved to a nursing home and that style of communication wouldn't ever occur again.

I could speak a word by then and went home. It was figured I would die. I didn't.


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