12 Days of Tap 2020: Day 3
A Friend’s Story: Forever Friends and “Zoom-Mates”
– Carolyn Taylor –
Maura’s Intro: One of the saddest things that I hear during consultations with new clients when arriving (or in this case logging in), is when an individual says “My friends are all gone.” Or, “Where did my friends go?” Unfortunately, this is not an unusual occurrence and I am left to counsel, reassure and empathize noting that I am certain that they care, that they want to help, but just aren’t sure how to communicate with someone with aphasia. This uncertainty often results in a distancing that is unfortunate and may contribute to the social isolation that is so common with aphasia.
This story is the direct opposite scenario. When I met Carolyn and her two besties (from college-days), as amazing as I thought Carolyn was, …I was equally as taken by her friends. These true-blue friends exuded positivity and encouragement and communicated a sincere desire to learn as much about Carolyn’s aphasia journey as they could. Carolyn was surrounded by people who believed in her and would help her access any and all help she needed to maximize her recovery.
You will love this story, these friends and the beautiful, sweet Carolyn that graces 5-6 of our groups a week!
Mary Butler (TAP Family Member and Carolyn Taylor’s Caregiver): I am writing this story on behalf of my forever sister-friend, Carolyn (“CJ”) Taylor. We’ve known each other since 1965 upon arriving on campus as college freshmen, and we were roommates three of our four years at North Carolina Central University in Durham.
Carolyn has suffered two strokes — both of which occurred early morning while alone and driving her automobile — and both of which were left-brain injuries. The first was in 2005 while heading to work as a social worker with Person County Social Services Agency in Roxboro. The second stroke occurred while driving to Durham for an annual physical exam in January 2019. CJ was very fortunate to receive assistance from a caring stranger who called 911 and got her to Duke Hospital in 2005; and last year, she was able to park her car and walk into her doctor’s office.
Aphasia after both strokes left Carolyn with difficulty getting words out and/or understanding what is being said. She underwent surgery at Duke Hospital twice, and a very lengthy rehabilitation at Person Memorial Hospital rehab unit. Last summer, she moved into Cambridge Hills Assisted Living where their exceptional staff helped with her adjustment to independence and post-stroke depression. In August 2019, her loving 92-year-old mom (Elizabeth Jackson) passed away, leaving CJ with great loss and sadness. With the doctor’s consent, CJ returned to her Durham home in November 2019, with 24-hour home health care and continued speech therapy.
Duke neurologist, Dr. Graffagnino, introduced us to the Triangle Aphasia Project and thought it would be beneficial in dealing with Carolyn’s aphasia. As co-guardians, Pecolia Beatty and I arranged an intro meeting between CJ and Maura Silverman, Executive Director; we also attended their family caregiver workshop. More importantly, CJ felt comfortable with TAP’s overall philosophy, and she was on-board with TAP’s weekly group sessions led by Sowmya Shanker at Duke Regional Hospital’s Speech Language Pathology Dept.
Since the COVID pandemic and closure of speech therapy sessions at Duke Regional, CJ has learned to go online with TAP’s conversation groups during the week. Although she doesn’t express in words, it’s pretty obvious that Carolyn enjoys her “Zoom-mates” because TAP helps her to connect with others who are sharing a similar journey. I am forever grateful for Maura and her team’s love, care and support of my best friend as she navigates this life-altered challenge – one that she faces each and every day. Although this road is different for everyone, it is my sincere hope that not only Carolyn’s journey, but every TAP client’s ultimate recovery, will be successful!
Best wishes for a joyous and safe holiday season.
From the TAP Home Office:
TAP Unlimited’s End of Year Campaign provides TAP Stakeholders an opportunity to embrace the reason for our efforts and hear from those who have been impacted by aphasia. Aphasia, as you know, can be a devastating impairment resulting in social isolation, depression and disengagement from the passions and purpose of an individual’s life. It can interrupt a career, destroy plans for retirement and threaten relationships. TAP Unlimited is embarking on its 18th year of service to those effected by aphasia across the Triangle and beyond.
Our ability to pivot and create a virtual world of connection possibilities, to stay afloat and to even thrive, has been, in no small way, a result of the generosity of our donor base. Today, we ask that you continue to support TAP by doing the following:
- Share this story. Share it on your social media, in emails to your family/friends and to those you work with…it will increase awareness of Aphasia and provide hope to those who feel alone in this journey.
- Consider an end-of-year gift to TAP. You can donate online and make it a gift by honoring someone on the aphasia journey.
- Donations can also be mailed in the form of a check or a donation of stock. Email us for more information.
Thank you for your faith in our organization and for supporting the 12 Days of TAP!