Thursday, March 06, 2008

Tom had his last speech therapy appointment yesterday and I can honestly say the time has been well spent. Parkinson's can affect one's speech in a couple of obvious ways: diminished volume and slurring of words. Tom thought he was speaking loud enough to be heard and he didn't realize he hurried some words and parts of sentences which caused the slurring. I was struggling at times to hear him and to understand the words I did hear. He interpreted things differently. The problems I identified could and have been helped. He speaks more slowly and clearly, listens to himself and self corrects when he realizes he has been hurrying. Unfortunately, the problem he recognized is just one more Parkinson's problem which has no resolution. The once articulate man who thought well on his feet, the person who was comfortable in front of people, whether it was in a courtroom, a pulpit or a group of friends now hesitates to find the right words. You can see him thinking, trying to remember what he wanted to say and how to say it.

Yesterday the therapist asked Tom to tell him about some of his most interesting trials. I knew before he started what the first one would be. I was right. He told about one of his earliest cases that involved a woman who said she found a fly in her beer can. I enjoyed hearing him tell about it though he didn't tell it with as much detail and fervor as he once did. Ask him what some legal term means or about a specific legal process and he explains either so that most of the time even I can understand. It's ordinary conversation that's the most problematic. How the brain works is such a mystery! How Parkinson's affects different aspects of the brain in different people is a mystery!

Elisa news of the week is she started eating a little cereal yesterday. It wasn't much and she let me know when she'd had enough--just clamped her little lips together and gave me one of those "no more" looks. She's one who understands Tom, her Paw Paw, quite well! Her eyes follow him when he comes into the room, she smiles at the sound of his voice, no matter the volume, and she grins really big when he says in a sing-song voice, "Elisa Leigh, Elisa Leigh, this is Paw Paw talking to you." Aren't children wonderful? They understand love and return it many times over.

Pastor Margaret

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