Speech as Speech Therapy

By Ken Mason



Recently Ken Mason gave a talk to a hospital group as part of his speech therapy. We print it here to help inspire all stroke survivors!




My name is Ken Mason, Iím 54 years old and married to Kathy and have two children Kristine (19) and Graeme (17).


After being raised in Padstow, I started work for the Main Roads Department in 1970 as a clerical officer. I worked in various head office sections before being promoted to Cost Clerk and transferred to Bourke in 1979 for 18 months.


After Bourke I was posted to the Departments Laboratory at Milsonís Point as Senior Clerk.


Then in 1986 I was appointed the Supply Cataloguer with the department were I assisted in the development of a new cataloguing and stock control system.


In 1996 after being with department for 24-1/2 years I accepted redundancy when they closed the Supply department.


I then worked for a Supply Cataloguing firm as a contractor on various projects before accepting a permanent job with Boral. With Boral I was able to develop my computer skills using Excel to formulate product descriptions that can be used for both purchasing and selling products.


I am still an active member of the Cambridge Park Lions club. I joined Lions in 1980 whilst working at Bourke before transferring to Bankstown, and then to Cambridge Park Lions club.


I was also a volunteer for the Red Cross as a disaster assistance officer assisting in the Sydney bushfires and president for my childrenís scout group fundraising committee.


On 17th March, 2004, my life was turned on its ear when I suffered a heart attack. From what Iíve been told I reacted to one of the drugs used to correct the heart attack thus causing the stroke.


After being diagnosed as a diabetic in 1999, I thought I had no other major health problems. I was having a heart check and blood tests every six months with my GP. I decided to join a gym tod get back in shape. I feel my fitness help save my life. My last check was in February 2004 and they were ok. I discussed with my doctor my desire to have another run with the soccer team.


A week before the heart attack I had played in a trial soccer game and finished ok. The day of the attack I had gone for a walk at lunch time and when I got back to work I felt a bit tired and had a slight headache. It was a warm day but it soon passed and I was able to complete the days work.


As I had training that night I had a light tea. I tested my sugar levels and they were ok. During the training session I developed a massive throbbing headache something Iíve never experienced before. I collapsed and was rushed to hospital. From what I remember I never had any of the usual signs that I had heart problems.


The next thing I can remember was coming to in the cardiac ward on the 5th floor at Nepean Hospital; apparently I had been in an induced coma for about 6 weeks.


Finally I was transferred to the rehab ward on the 1st floor. Over the following weeks I asked my wife to bring in a calendar, which helped me remember the days of the week and jog my memory.


The stroke has caused weakness down my entire right side. The best way to describe it is that I was cut in half from the tip of my head to my toes.


During this time I underwent physio, occupation and speech therapy, in all I spent a total of four months in hospital.


I remember my first few weeks in physio must have been an ordeal for both the physios and me.


Every time I was put on the tilt table I was sick. Three physios had to assist me to walk, one to bend my knee and two to hold me.


Other exercises were sit to stands, transferring chairs etc. Speech was learning to write left handed, general speaking and remembering things such as work and leisure activities.


After being discharged from hospital I was lucky enough to get into the Governor Phillip rehab programme which I attended twice weekly for about 15 months. I made great progress but unfortunately I never managed to walk by myself without assistance.


Currently Iím seeing a private physio. At my last visit I walked for 30 min on the treadmill with the physio guiding my foot and my wife supporting my hips.


I have started hydrotherapy hoping that it will help my balance and strength.


My first session in the pool was like walking on the moon with my right leg over extending. My balance has improved. Iím currently doing some deep water therapy where I have to cross the pool treading water but propelling myself forward.


The warmth and movement from the water has been very beneficial. Finally I now have more feeling down my right hand side. I have been able to adapt some of the exercises for my home programme.


Since June 2007 I have been undergoing more speech therapy which has been great. When I started I had a very rough voice and at times it was hard to talk as my throat was quite sore. Some of the exercises have improved my throat and voice. Volume and projection are still my greatest challengers.


My goals for the future are to one day walk unassisted, and regain my independence. Even if I canít drive again I will be happy to just be able to use public transport and to travel overseas to visit relatives in New Zealand. I also want to be around for my family, friends etc.


I might even be able to resume work one day and look at a career change. I have also started tracing my family tree and have made contact with some long lost cousins.


My main advice is to listen to your body and never give up. Having a good network of family and friends it has given me the courage to continue to fight and beat the odds.



Copyright © June 2008

The Stroke Network, Inc.

P.O. Box 492 Abingdon, Maryland 21009

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