Diane Ackerman's One Hundred Names for Love

Friday, April 22, 2011

Diane Ackerman talks about her husband, Paul West’s, stroke and long recovery. He was afflicted with aphasia—loss of language—and Diane, frustrated with traditional therapies, relied on her scientific understanding of language and the brain to guide Paul back to the world of words. Her book One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing is an account of stroke, aphasia, and recovery, as well a love story.


Diane Ackerman

Comments [5]

Emma from Victoria, Australia

Thank you for sharing this. As a stroke survivor it really highlights the amazing contribution carers have in our recovery.

Jul. 14 2011 11:37 PM
Donna Campbell from Bkly,ny

This story was very interested, She explain the language of brain. How Paul is doing with his stroke. She became his personal aide. While in the hospital it's hard to an one 0n one, teach him how to do things on his own.. Some times we take things for granded in life. She had so much patient working with her husband. I also like how she let him do one hundred names an day. That was part of his therpy.

May. 03 2011 06:36 PM
Soundlanguage from JC/NYC

Ah, wonderful interview- a pleasure to listen to. Diane's warm, open, easy flow is so engaging and funny- especially the bits about made up sounding words Paul would say after having the stroke... hilarious retelling.

Stroke recovery and subsequent therapy is often slow and frustrating for loved ones or caretakers but were they to look at it from Diane's experience- artistically, patiently, I have a hunch this could open up new approaches.

She also rightly noted strokes don't just happen to older people- it's quite shocking the stats on how much more common it's becoming for young people as well.

One ideal example is Dorian Cox, the hugely talented songwriter & main guitarist for the amazing UK indie band the Long Blondes. At just 27 years old he had a stroke which caused the band to go on infinite hiatus just at at time they were on the cusp of hitting a new plateau of wider fame/success. A heartbreaking example of what-could-have-been in my book, though the small body of work they did achieve is out there for us to enjoy.

Here's a snip from an NME article (Jan 2,2009) where Cox speaks about the stroke:

"Cox, 27, told The Guardian that he fell over on his way to the bathroom while staying in a hotel in his native Sheffield, and was unable to get up.

After being found by a hotel maid, Cox was taken to hospital, where doctors confirmed he had suffered a stroke.

"At 27 years old, this was the last thing I expected," he said. "At first, it didn't feel serious: like most young people, I assumed that strokes only affected older people."

The stroke affected Cox's left side, and the guitarist spent seven weeks in hospital. Although his condition is slowly improving, Cox still has to walk with a crutch. He is also unable to play the guitar, as his hand is "practically useless" at present.

"It is awful not being able to do things one takes for granted, such as tying your shoelaces or even putting your arm around a girl. I'm not a religious person, but I pray that it won't always be like this," he explained.

Cox is trying to remain positive though.

"I feel extremely lucky that, despite having had a very big stroke, at present it seems that the lasting problems are only physical," he said. "I count my blessings that my mind and speech have not been affected. In fact, I feel lucky to be alive at all."

Despite suffering the stroke, Cox says he is having to pay for treatment himself, as the free physiotherapy provided by the National Health Service is not substantial enough."

Apr. 22 2011 01:12 PM
Sherril from Morris Plains, NJ

Once again, thank you Leonard for a much appreciated interview. As a Speech/Language Therapist, I listened with special interest to how Diane Ackerman was able to "reach" her Aphasic husband through her understanding of the brain as related to speech and language, but most importantly her love and understanding of her husband and their relationship. I missed the beginning of the interview, so when near the end, I learned that I was listening to the author of a book I had read and treasured, "The Zookeepers Wife", the interview became that much more meaningful for me.

Apr. 22 2011 01:10 PM
CL from NY

This is an inspiring story, and DA is a wonderful person.

Apr. 22 2011 12:59 PM

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