Saturday, June 21, 2008


When I was a senior in high school, we were called upon to memorize 10 lines of poetry. Being something of a wiseass, I decided to do The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe which was considerably longer than 10 lines. When it was my turn to recite, I accomplished the feat with just a couple of stumbles. Most of the poem has stayed with me to this day. Oh, I can't recite all eighteen or so verses, but, if prompted, I can rattle off 15 or 20 lines.
All this is apropos of one of the quirks of my Multiple Sclerosis. I say My Multiple Sclerosis because one of the real oddities of this disease is the nature of its symptoms. MS is a disease of brain lesions and how one is affected depends on just where on the brain the lesions are located. In my case, the left side of my brain has the lesions and I have generalized weakness on my right side and my speech center is affected.
I could very well be paralyzed or blind so, all things being equal, I got off lucky.

When I was first diagnosed, I had a real problem with talking and maintaining my balance. I was fond of saying I had to relearn how to walk and talk and crawl on my belly like a reptile. One of the first things that dawned on me was that reciting poetry and talking were two entirely different processes. I'm not sure why that occurred to me but it did. Perhaps you are aware that certain singers, such as Mel Tillis, stutter but have no problem singing because singing and reciting poetry are right brain processess and speaking is a left brain process.
I figured out that I could talk with a minimum of trouble by memorizing what I wanted to say, then saying it. That is a very exhausting enterprise but, to some extent, it works at least in the short run.

All of the above leads me to this: I had a relapse a couple of weeks ago and had to be hospitalized for a few days. My doctor stablilized me and I was released, on crutches and stuttering up a storm. I am an outpatient and am taking physical therapy for my balance and speech therapy for my speaking. When the brain lesions "heal" I will be back to "normal," whatever that is.

Anyway, I missed about a week of doing crossword puzzles but my doctor - who is also a fan of puzzles - tells me that returning to them is good therapy. So I am back.

1 comment:

mac said...

That is so interesting, the connection between stuttering and singing! Our son had a short period (about a year) that he stuttered, in Kindergarten / 1st grade, but he never had a problem when he sang. The speech therapist had him read out loud connecting the words, so no pauses, and before long he completely stopped stammering. Hope you recover completely.