There are moments when I am mid sentence or explaining something in depth when I begin to slur my words, as if I have been drinking. This even occurs when I am tired at the end of the day. I brought it up to my physical therapist during rehab one day and next thing I know, I was happily starting my first speech therapy appointment! Excited was an understatement. I had just had an interview with a new company where I would be heavily interacting professionally with customers and had stumbled over a few words during that interview. I almost wanted to bring up my life story to the branch manager, and how I wouldn’t be available at certain times due to rehab appointments that I will never intentionally skip. I didn’t, and to this day I haven’t heard back from the company. Not having a call back from a job you have been so excited about is disappointing, and it made me want to attend speech therapy as much as possible.
There is no limits to how much we can learn. I remember taking a social speech class where we would write essays and present them to the class weekly. That class gave me the skills to be open and confident with other individuals, in a way I hadn’t been before. I looked at speech therapy as an opportunity to gain communication skills that had flown the co-op since my stroke. I walked into the rehab at 8am wondering what all would happen and what we would do so that my speech would improve. Then the door opened and next thing I know I was sitting in the chair of the room where I would receive all my therapy..
After I finished a series of tests in a book that had symbols and stories in it, my time was up and I was done for the day. 30 minutes flies by fast when you’re making use of your time. I had such a headache. I was asked to mark out like symbols, retell stories as best as I could, and I wasn’t allowed to take pictures (for this blog) because I would “Be able to cheat” on my next test.. Ok, like I’m actually going to prevent myself from getting better. We said goodbyes and when I came back the next day, speech therapy had turned into a different story.
“We see you tested below your average age scale in attention..” Ricardo always says I am random and I probably have the attention span of a leaf, meaning, I have no attention span. I always knew this, but I wasn’t really sure. But sure enough, tests proved that hey. I have a hard time focusing. No big deal, I wasn’t here for that, I’m here to learn how to pronounce my words and get my sentences out properly and professionally. “We are going to use your iphone as tool to help you keep track of remembering things and its going to really help you to make those lists.” We started out by spending all of my appointment time learning how to use my calendar as an alarm on my phone. ‘Find your calendar, put your 20 appointment dates in your calendar, set those reminders for a day before and an hour before, now set a loud obnoxious alarm so that you will hear your alarm go off’ and before I knew it. 30 minutes flew by. Discouraged and stressed, I left. Deciding to give it one more try before actually flushing the whole therapy thing down the toilet. Luckily the next appointment was the next day. In the meantime, I texted Ricardo, telling him how I felt like maybe it wasn’t what I expected. I assumed that Speech Therapy, is just that. SPEECH. You. Learning. You’re in English class, your telling a story as fast as you can without tripping over words, your leaning how to write neatly, I don’t know… something other than ..lets set reminders in your phone because as the test results show, you are incapable of remembering anything without the help of technology..
It was a slap in the face. Technology is a huge problem to me. Not only do we have a rule of not having our phones out while Ricardo and I are together but we also do not depend on them. Technology has a great way of bringing people together but it can also tear people apart. I do not want to miss a smile or a joke because I giving my full attention to the screen on my phone.
My next appointment completely crushed my dreams of achieving the goals I want. It had become clear to me while I was ‘learning’ how to use my tasks lists and setting fake appointments in my phone calendar. What was speech therapy or occupational therapy like for those in the 50s who didn’t have the technology we have today? What if they weren’t even given a pen and pencil? What tools and practices did therapists choose to help those patients with speech problems overcome those struggles? How was the patient successful without technology? Why aren’t we doing that today? Why are you telling me to link everything together on a phone instead of teaching me skills I need so that I can learn on my own. My mind is powerful, THE mind is powerful, and staring at a screen is no practice. I sat there and knew that I would not be wasting donor sponsorship’s on this sort of therapy. Typing with my thumbs is not a tool. Its the easy way out and it’s those moments when I’m looking down that I miss something happening right in front of me. What if I miss my Godson smiling at me? What if I miss that loving look that Ricardo gives me? What if I miss that customer who needs help and glances at me to see if I’m busy? My ‘what if’s’ are real and they are valid. Ricardo and I have seen firsthand those dates out at our favorite restaurant where the couple spend the majority of their dinner on their phones. Both look at each other during different times with confused looks on their faces. Some are angry and some seem upset, but those are the exact moments I am speaking of. You could have been looking up, speaking to the person in front of you, but instead you were looking down, missing that moment with your significant other.
I gave it a lot of thought and I have decided that I’m not going to risk those moments for memory. My memory will come when it wants and it will remember those smiles and laughs, and for now, I will live in my life’s moments, free of distraction and free of iPhone alerts and reminders.