We arrived in time for the Hawaiian themed welcoming get together, complete with ice cream sundae bar. It was so nice to see some friends from the Not Alone Aphasia Group Zack goes to 2x/month at UNR, Tami and some SLP students Zack knows from UNR.
David Dow, son of the co-founder Carol, told us why there was a sea turtle theme. One of his speech therapists told him how baby sea turtles are born a foot below heavy, wet sand. They have to work really hard to make it to the surface, let alone down to the ocean and learn how to survive. He told it much more eloquently but it made a lot of sense and his speech is very fluent.
After the entertainment (3 songs by former Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year Jimmy Hopper, introductions, door prizes and some more introductions, I was starving! (Ice cream sundaes are delicious but not so filling for me.) So with a few bumpy communications and mostly me not understanding at all, we set off for Denny’s (in our hotel complex) with 2 other attendees with Aphasia and one more joined us in a minute.
Dinner at Denny’s with 4 people with aphasia is quite an experience. It’s completely surreal to be surrounded by new friends who have similar/same language difficulties as Zack. We spent most of the time getting to know each other. Chris has a lot about himself and his stroke already written out in his phone’s notes, as well as a video Ironman made about him last fall when he completed Ironman Chattanooga. He also has a ready clip of Parks and Rec from when he played Joe Biden’s bodyguard when Leslie Knope visits the White House. Felisa wrote out a timeline of her Air Force service and other time spent in Kazakhstan and Afghanistan and showed us pictures of the flowers and fruit growing at her home. Rob is really fast at writing words and phrases with his fingertip on his phone. He even wrote out his order for the waiter. This all sounds great and it really was. It’s also a lot of work! A lot of work for them to pronounce the words they want to say, show the # of years (on their fingers) ago their strokes were and match that up to an oral #, and for them to type/write out the answers to questions we have for each other. And for me to negotiate how much to help, how much to read out loud, how much to push when I really don’t understand a response, how much to interpret what I’m hearing/seeing.
It was the perfect first night – meeting new friends, eating!, and starting to get settled into Boot Camp. But it’s going to be an exhausting week! Time for bed. 🙂