Overcoming aphasia with public speaking

Tell that to the Stroke Warrior…

Overcoming aphasia is difficult but possible. Alon stepped up on stage this week to tell his story and pitch his startup business at One Million Cups of Coffee.


Three years ago, I could talk by only using broken phrases. I couldn’t use my right arm. I couldn’t grab and release tiny balls with my right fingers or my right thumb. I couldn’t remember grammar or sentence structure one minute after listening to a normal person speak.

So, here I am, standing in front of the One Million Cups of Coffee audience in downtown Asheville giving a one-minute pitch for my AlonTree products.

Whew.

A pitch is like a well-worn tall tale; you have to interject your points, wry humor and rhythmic rap.

None of that belonged to me three years ago.

I knew that before I stepped up to the microphone today.

First of all, I was a mediocre script pitcher and screenwriter in Hollywood.  But, I got better at it. My favorite moment was when a studio’s creative executive producer phoned me and said to me, “I have a really good friend at ____ Studio, can you tell us your pitch  now?” So, I launched into the story and did the dishes while I talked.

I told stories to my children from my creative memory as I was drifting off to sleep. I told spell-bound Christians and Jewish people my midrashim* about Moses, Yaakov, Jacob, and larger-than-life characters.

So, I am in the One Million Cups of Coffee room and the mob is getting restless. I blink, slowly gulp air into my lungs, and start telling the crowd about the blue car driven by a woman on her cellphone who rammed into my minicar.

And, I tell the whole story about myself, silenced by the coma, misjudged by the ICU doctors, waking up from the coma completely mute.  The right side of my body controlled by the left side of my brain was gone.  Poof.  I was becoming a stroke victim.

Days followed nights, seasons became years, and I became stronger.  Thanks to my brain’s neuroplasticity, my stubbornness, and my AlonTree products my muscles became fluid and stretchable.  I became a Stroke Warrior.

The One Million Cups of Coffee audience gave me solid applause.

*The midrash: מִדְרָשׁ‎; pl. מִדְרָשִׁים midrashim) is the genre of rabbinic literature which contains early interpretations and commentaries on the Written Torah and Oral Torah (spoken law and sermons).

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