Tag Archives: stroke

Alice Qualifies for Aphasia Research Study

Great news!  It’s now official.

Alice McCormick has been chosen to participate in a joint research project with the Aphasia Laboratory at the University of Washington and Portland State University.

Once her selection was announced, Alice consented enthusiastically.  Participation begins Jan. 5, 2016 with a week of comprehensive testing.

Aphasia followed Alice’s stroke

The Aphasia Laboratory at the University of Washington conducts research to better understand the complex processing of language and how it affects individuals with aphasia.  The project studies the theoretical nature of word-retrieval deficits in aphasia-stricken individuals with emphasis upon rehabilitation.

Word retrieval is related to one’s attention and cognitive processing, and the disorder known as aphasia is a common aftereffect of a stroke.  Except for the speech aphasia and an inability to put words to paper and/or keyboard, Alice appears to have fully recovered from her mishap.

Difficulty finding words is a core feature of aphasia, which affects approximately 80,000 people each year in the U.S.  Director of the University of Washington’s Aphasia Laboratory is Diane Kendall, whose focus is on rehabilitation and understanding the theoretical relationship between phonology (sounds) and aphasia.  Her overall career objectives are to conduct systematic treatment research that creates better patient outcomes.

Through various awards and grants, Dr. Kendall continues to systematically test and refine protocols in phonomotor treatment for word-retrieval impairments in aphasia.  In 2013, the quality of her Standardized Assessment of Phonology in Aphasia won Dr. Kendall a Fulbright Scholar Award to teach and conduct research at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Treatment at Home and at Portland State U

The Aphasia Research Laboratory is affiliated with the University of Washington Integrated Brain Imaging Center.  After Alice’s pre-testing week, she will receive six full weeks of treatment on a one-on-one basis with Wesley Allen, research speech-language pathologist, who works directly with Dr. Kendall.  For Alice, this is big time.

Once the six weeks of hands-on treatment is finished, four more days of testing will follow, culminating three months later with a final round of testing.

I hope to report in depth on Alice’s progress and the rigorous treatment road ahead.  We are both enthusiastic about this turn of events and hope this development signifies giant opportunities for the two of us.

Alice has been supportive of my partnering with Uber as a driver, but deep down inside, she prefers that I be at home writing my memoirs while she is working.  Driving in Portland has turned out to be a dependable source of revenue for us, but it distracts from the goal we set back in September 2014 for our trek West to the Beaver State.

My life story hangs in the balance, and so does our survival.  Onward and upward!

Read more about Alice’s stroke and recovery in the archives of this blog beginning with March 2015.


Alice Is Laid Off

Alice and I received some disconcerting news two weeks ago.  KinderCare is cutting back on her work hours even more.

Alice already was down to two hours a day, although she made herself available to work extra hours when asked to do so.  Alice’s new schedule, according to the Hillsboro office manager, shows Alice “on call.”  The only good part of this: Alice’s commuting expense is reduced.

To see how “on call” was going to work, I waited to report this development until two weeks had gone by.  Now I can relate the result: No work at all.

This unofficial layoff is exacting a toll on my writing work.  Whenever I have free time, I drive for Uber.  That’s because the peak season for tourists has ended, and Uber’s continuing recruitment of drivers has saturated the market.

Some Good News for a Change

Alice appears to be chosen as a participant for a joint research aphasia project created by the University of Washington and Portland State University.  We are awaiting an evaluation of Alice’s brain scans following her stroke, before the good news becomes official.

If she participates, Alice will undergo intensive therapy for six weeks that will target her speech aphasia five days a week.  We are both excited and on edge about her prospects, but I am nervous about mounting financial obligations.  I have become fearful, and it plays havoc on our relationship.

We will see what the future brings, and are grateful for the support by friends and family reflected on this website.  We especially acknowledge the private contributions that lift our spirits beyond measure.

Thank you.

Alice enjoys bacon and eggs for breakfast.
Alice’s  breakfast of  bacon and eggs puts on a happy face.

We Are Moving

A funny thing happened to Alice and me while preparing a post about pinot noir wines in the Portland vicinity.

The roof caved in.

Tandem Property Management, our landlord, formally announced plans to raise our rent more than 50 percent – from $1,050 to $1,600.  Before last weekend began, though, the property manager onsite promised we could lower the increase by $200 if we agree to move to a next-door remodeled apartment when our lease expires.

We salivated at the bait thrown before us, but on Monday, July 20th, as we prepared to bite into the offer, we learned an additional sizable security deposit would be required.  As well, we must use professional movers to complete our end of the deal, and other contingencies were raised to destroy any hopes we might return to the apartment we dearly love.

With one hand, they offered salvation; then applying the other, Tandem took hope away.

Emotions on display

Alice was distraught.  I watched as her voice broke – almost going into tears – after she realized how empty Tandem’s offer really was.  We both tried to explain the difficulty this rent increase posed to Alice’s medical recovery, but the property manager didn’t bat an eye.

The land barons of Hillsboro, who affectionately call this area the Silicon Forest because of Intel’s corporate presence, are doubling down on their perception that well-heeled geeks will flood the area.  And somehow, we’re being punished for touting the Portland area on this website.

Consequently, we advise anyone attracted to move here, “Caveat emptor.”  Let the buyer beware.

On Monday afternoon, we made a good-faith deposit on a different apartment just outside Hillsboro but closer to Portland.  It is far away from the KinderCare location where Alice forged a bond with its toddlers and babies.

Everyone will miss one another.  But we cannot stay and be tempted any longer by the mirage that an affordable apartment exists here for us and Millie, the cat.

We will have to pony up a larger security deposit than ever before to make this move.  Somehow, we’ll do it, keeping in mind the following: We are merely pawns in the real estate appreciation game being played in Portland.

Plaudits to dependable friends

Some good friends stepped up and are helping Alice and me survive this change in environs.  Their names: Pauletta and Terry Hoffman, and Diane and Scott Chill.  The Hoffmans are inspirational cheerleaders, and the Chills led us to a suitable apartment complex where we will make our future home.

Unconscionable increases in rent are turning Portland into an unenviable place, and websites are springing up warning prospective new residents about the pitfalls here.  A Google search turns up some interesting links when you key in the following phrase: “Should I move to Portland”.

You’ll see some of the bad, as well as some of the good.  And for something more personal, this blog should do.

In the photo on top, I’m waving goodbye to the first-floor apartment that Alice turned into a showplace.  The attractive landscaping is performed regularly by Mexican-American helpers who obey Tandem’s instructions as best they can.

In less than a month, all our possessions will be moved from the inside, and any subtle reminders denoting we lived here – including our homespun welcome mat – will be gone forever.

Here’s the good news: At our new location, we can barbecue outside on a charcoal grill.

The flaming barbecue in Doylestown will soon become part of our Portland apartment life.
The flaming barbecue in Doylestown will soon become part of Portland apartment living.

Alice Is Out of Work

Alice embraces Mason at Rehabilitative Institute of Oregon to ease his premonitions of doom and gloom.
Alice embraces Mason at Rehabilitative Institute of Oregon to ease his premonitions of doom and gloom.

On Monday, June 8, Alice McCormick, who has aphasia, visited Knowledge Universe’s Evergreen Road location in Hillsboro to entertain what she was told would be an offer to resume work.  Instead, she learned no further work is being offered by the corporate parent until she completes a job application on its website and submits a resumé.

In other words, because her longevity there is less than one year, Alice’s status is that of a new job applicant.  With her current inability to speak and write fluently as she continues to recover from a stroke, neither of us are optimistic about her future at KinderCare.

Since medical bills are overdue, and there is a pressing need to keep our heads above water, we started a gofundme drive earlier today.  Here’s a link.

I sincerely wish there was a better way to move forward, but we appear out of options.  I will continue to write and post more items on this website.