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I’ve been ever so slightly reducing the words I use to converse. This isn’t intentional, but it is an instinctive reaction to having a speech slur associated with Parkinson’s. Come to think of it, the concept of toiling while talking is most likely true for most people with Parkinson’s as we eventually slow down everything we do. The reaction and the slur came on suddenly for me, most likely due to Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) complications.

As I struggle to enunciate correctly, I tend not to elaborate with extra words because it takes effort to speak clearly and concisely the way I once did. My tongue seems to go along for the ride with the other muscles in my mouth instead of pitching in to help them form vowels, verbs, adverbs, nouns, and adjectives.

To ease the effort required to talk, I might replace “community” with “region” because it is easier to say. I substitute “manufacturer” for “maker” because it has less syllables. “Butter” does not become “better” with Blue Bonnet on it, so I avoid rhymes.

Conversation with flourishes is reduced from what might have been to the bare essentials. Eek!

The speech therapist gave me a list of polysyllabic words to practice. I’m instructed to shout them aloud and then put them in short sentences. He says that I should think big in my speaking, whether it is to increase volume (although volume is not my problem), or to exaggerate the movement of my mouth muscles.

I’ve also noticed it is difficult to speak on the phone. He recommends standing up and walking around when talking to give my diaphragm and lungs a chance to fill with air instead of slumping down on empty in my chair. It is hard to remember to stand up for a phone conversation when the phone rings instead of preparing to relax and recline when taking a call.

Thinking before we speak and exaggerating what we say is the name of the game for those of us with Parkinson’s. Where’s my Smile Maker

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