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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Aphasia vs. Dysarthria: Finding The Right Words, Then Saying Them Wrong...

I think the worst thing, at least for me, after the stroke was Bob's inability to speak. I always told myself that it would be easier deal with all of his physical limitations, if only he could speak to me. Tell me what was on his mind. Talk about what he was feeling.

Bob has struggled with speech now for over two years and continues to struggle. But he has come a long way, baby. From his initial grunts and gurgles, to calling everything "window" or "radio", to short phrases such as "I love you" and "Turn it up", to complete sentences that sometimes even make sense. And it seems to me that the aphasia is slowly "clearing" up or at least getting less severe. He does seem to be finally finding "the words"... This while physically he seems to be deteriorating.

Yesterday, he said a complete 11 word sentence, which went like this: "I want to thank you from the heart of my heart." This was after I just cleaned him up from a bowel movement. I swear, my heart soared! Even though I knew he meant "from the bottom of my heart". Still, it's good to hear his voice again.

Then dysarthria rears its ugly head....

"Dysarthria" is a fancy way of saying he has trouble articulating. This because his mouth and tongue are weak and partially paralyzed. This is nothing new. He's had it the whole time, although the first speech therapist misdiagnosed it as "apraxia" which is truly a different thing. But now the dysarthria seems more pronounced -- or should I say mispronounced? -- because more and more he is finding the right words but sadly, the words are coming out all wrong.

Case in point: About a week ago, we were watching a movie and an actor appeared on the screen and I thought, hey, that's what's-his-name!, because I couldn't remember the actor's name, even though he's quite famous. And I said to Bob, "That's what's-his-name! Oh, I can't remember his name. What is his name?" And I'm sort of beating my forehead thinking, darn, it's right on the tip of my tongue---what IS that guy's name???

Bob says, "immony omens"

To which I answer, "Huh?" And I finally pause the movie, because this is really bugging me, and get up to look at the DVD case.  And, of course, there's the name.

I say to Bob, "Anthony Hopkins. Duh."

Bob says, "See?"

I say, "See what?"

Bob says, "I knew it."

Me--I am surprised at this, because truthfully, this would be very hard for someone diagnosed with not only Broca's aphasia but also "anomic" aphasia. Anomic aphasia being the inability to remember names of persons and/or things. Then, I think, well, he did say something---what exactly did he say?

So I tell him, "Say 'Anthony Hopkins'."

He says, "immony omens"

All righty. I guess it sort of sounds like Anthony Hopkins.

Other recent Bob-isms include: "cocock" meaning "botox", and "dude-o-mer" meaning "pedometer" (which I wear when I walk the dog), and "furrer" meaning "furniture". And those are just the ones I figured out.

I tell you, I spend more and more of our "conversations" saying, "Huh?" And it has got to be so very frustrating for Bob, who---when he sometimes finally finds those words but cannot say them right, and, still, no one understands....


Anonymous said...

I marvel at the love you share for Bob, and how fortunate he is to have you as a beautiful caring and thoughtful wife

Barb Polan said...

Of course "omminy omens" is "Anthony Hopkins." Is the M sound easier for him than other consonants? Say it; M seems easier than P and TH. And you can cheat on N by using the sides of your tongue against your molars instead of tip on palate.

Joyce said...

Gary has dysarthia too, so I know what you mean. Sometimes have to get his letter board out to figure out what he is saying. But we keep trying. Sounds like Bob is making great progress though. Garys speech is the clearest and strongest in the middle of the night. I had a dream the other night that he was talking in clear complete sentences. :). Wonderful!!

Anonymous said...

Good Morning Diane,

I can understand that frustration in the lack of coherent communications, but when you look back at where he was two years ago, he has come a long way in his ability. I know that doesn't help much, however he is communicating now, though with difficulty.

Enjoy and cherish those, "I love you's and Thank you's" that he can express. All too often, we caregivers don't hear those words often enough.

Lots of hugs and prayers for both of you.