By G. Jeffrey MacDonald
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is undergoing rehabilitation to overcome what he calls slower brain processes after a November head injury that resulted in urgent brain surgery a month later.
Bishop Curry told members of Executive Council at the American Airlines Training & Conference Center that he’s been undergoing speech therapy to recover from a subdural hematoma, a condition that involves bleeding and increased pressure on the brain. He said he has made a 90 percent recovery.
“Some of the processing-brain processes are a little slower than they were before,” Curry said. “It’s as much cognitive therapy as it is actual speech [therapy], in terms of processing speed and immediate retention and all that kind of stuff. It’s kind of like going back to high school again.”
Curry said he has one more speech therapy session to go before he’s finished. The therapy includes multitasking, such as solving a problem while listening to an audio track in the background. Such rehabilitation is standard, he said, and not a result of any particular difficulties he’s experienced. He said he feels fine.
“I think my memory recall is probably close to what it was before,” Curry said. “If it’s not exactly there, it’s close.”
Though his travel schedule is still busy, it has been reduced. He also incorporates time now in a typical day to break for a brief rest or nap. He said stamina is the realm in which he feels himself operating at 90 percent of his pre-injury capacity.
Curry unveiled several new details about the cause of his injury and his course of treatment. He fell, he said, in Washington, D.C. on the weekend when he was installed as presiding bishop. He had been to the gym and ran out to Starbucks for a coffee when he tripped, fell, and hit his head. He did not realize the injury was serious until he was hospitalized in Virginia in December after struggling to find words during an anniversary event in Williamsburg, Virginia.
“I was preaching at Bruton Parish Church, and I couldn’t remember anything,” Curry said. “But, being a preacher, I kept talking.”
In the Richmond hospital, the surgeon and nurses were Episcopalians, he said, and knew the demands he would be facing in his schedule.
“Before the surgery, he said, ‘We’ll have you ready for those primates in a few weeks, don’t worry,’” Curry said.