Speaking Slurganese: The Inability to Communicate
I am speaking a new language these days. I call it slurganese. And I didn't even have to take lessons or purchase language learning CD's to become fluent in it. The problem is that nobody else speaks the language the same way I do. What we have here is a failure to communicate.
For some reason my medications, namely Rytary, and my Deep Brain Stimulator, are conspiring against me to foul up the mechanisms that make speech possible. I speak something in my head but when it comes out of my mouth it is quite different, unintelligible in fact. In my eleventh year of having Parkinson's disease, I am unable, at most times of the day, after medicating, to communicate easily with even my neurologist, his staff, and or anyone else around me.
Trying to order food on the phone
A few days ago I was trying to order sushi takeout from a local restaurant, for an in-house meeting with my ex-business partner. I called for take-out and tried to order a few things. I could not produce a single sentence that made any sense to any of the people who tried in vain to take my order. The third person finally said, "Sir, we cannot understand what you are saying, goodbye," and he hung up, but not before I heard someone in the background say "I think he's drunk."
Needless to say, this was frustrating, so I hopped in the car and raced over to the restaurant to place the order in person. After burning through a couple of people at the front desk, I decided on a different course of action. I got out my phone, found an app that could translate written word to speech, and got the owner to listen to my phone say "I am sorry for this frustration, but I cannot speak properly due to a brain injury. I can hear and understand everything you are saying, however." Part one solved. The second part was having the Korean workers at my sushi place understand perfectly spoken English, from my cell phone.
We got the food order completed, and we all had a good chuckle, because they knew that I now understood their communication struggles and they understood my struggle with slurganese.
Can't buy a hot dog at the ball game
This wasn't the first time my inability to communicate has caused a problem for me. Last year I was invited to see a baseball game with friends from our neighborhood. Mid-inning I jumped up and went looking for a hot dog. Suspecting that I might have bitten off more than I could chew, my neighbor came up to the hot dog stand where she found me struggling to get my hot dog order in. She stepped in and translated my slurganese to English, and placed my order for me. In that situation, a person who understood me and my speech defect, was there to help me out. I wondered how often that was going to happen again. Well, it has happened several times since, including my recent sushi purchase event.
Fortunately, these are not critical or life changing events where being able to communicate clearly was essential to my well-being or somebody else's. There is nothing I can do about the future though. I am not the one controlling the strings.
The silver lining is that I am now working on a text to speech app that will be designed to work specifically for Parkies. Wish me luck.
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