Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Mute Again

This blog has become a valued part of my therapy.
Yesterday Dr. Shoja wanted to know if I had any idea what might have triggered my current “crisis” so I dearly wanted to tell her about my experience at Cirque. She offered me a pen and paper — can you imagine her sitting there while I wrote out that long story? Instead, I was able to show her the story on this blog using my phone.
So now, sometimes, my blog posts can be very practical.
It’s important to me to optimize every experience so I searched for a positive outcome from my Cirque experience. For one thing, I did not have a seizure. And: I have a new “emergency” (fast acting) medicine that serves for a PTSD episode in a way similar to the way my “rescue inhaler” functions for an asthma attack.
I am learning about dysfluency through the publications of an American academic partnership — Richard Culatta of Appalachian State University and Linda Leeper of New Mexico State University. I have read a lot about dysfluency issues that do not affect me as well as aspects of the phenomenon that are personally relevant.
I was diagnosed with psychogenic (emotionally based) dysfluency (EBD). In the third paragraph of their introduction to EBD, they write: “Emotionally based dysfluencies nearing 90% of all utterances are not unusual.” They cite their own research, published in 1987, as the source of their data supporting that statement.
Well that’s me right now. I am at 100%.
My speech app will be vital today. I have to take my car in. I will pre-load my questions and the things I want to say into the app and play it to the clerks at the dealership. Tomorrow, if I am still mute, I will not be going to the Christmas party I was planning to attend. Doing anything with people is pointless under these conditions.
I know this will pass, but right now it’s hard not to worry. If by I am still mute on Christmas day, I am going to J&B’s anyway. They are true dear friends who stick with me no matter what.
This is my second bout of muteness. When I am like this, a form of practical charades is a vital part of getting through the day. Another feature of muteness is moments — just moments — of extreme frustration and sadness too.
All my friends know about Rand. I can ask friends, “Shall I Rand?” Which is to ask them if they’re okay with me using my fake South African accent voice to speak with. When I can speak, I speak with a bad “stutter.” (I use quotation marks there because I am technically not a stutterer but I use the word to describe my vocal ticks that are caused by psychogenic dysfluency.) But when I speak using my Rand voice, I do not stutter at all because speaking that way uses a different neural pathway.
Similarly, when I am mute. If I close my eyes and visualize Mr. I., my affectionate friend, and attempt speaking to him, I can speak. I “stutter,” but I can speak. The same works for Dwight or Leslie or any one thoroughly trustable, but only if I am speaking to them.

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