stammerheadshark * blog about living with an acquired neurogenic stammer

It occured to me that I hadn’t updated my blog with what life has thrown at me over the past year or so as I stopped writing it when I moved back home and life became a lot bleaker. I really thought that nobody would want to read anything so depressing, so I plodded on. Turns out that I’d forgotten how therapeutic it can be to write all the chaos out of your head.

This afternoon I spent writing up my experiences of a form of therapy that really has helped me come to terms with my speech as requested by the therapist for her to use as a case study, and I thought it was appropriate to share it here too.

So if you’re interested in what happened next to stammerheadshark, read on: Read the rest of this entry »

Or so I keep being told.

The interview I had on Thursday couldn’t have gone better. Short of having normal speech again, it was pretty much a textbook example of how an interview ought to go. I was engaging and informed, and they were enthusiastic and impressed; but somewhere it all went wrong. I got a phone call later that day to “regrettably inform me that on this occasion I was unsuccessful”. Great.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve literally been blown away by this morning’s events.

After getting in to work this morning, I noticed that my speech was slowing down and there were considerably more repetitions interjecting themselves in front of words I was trying to say.

The next time I opened my mouth to speak the normal stammer had disappeared to present only grunty sounds again. This is exactly what I’d been terrified of happening in advance of my interview this week.

Read the rest of this entry »

After spending evenings avoiding the internet thanks to the abundant exposure I receive during the day working for a web development company, the weekend seems as good a time to catch up with life online as any…

An odd thing happened this weekend, and upon reflection it’s something I’ve begun to notice others doing also. It appears, and I could be completely wrong about this, that people find it far easier to understand my stutter when they can see my facial expressions also.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve been particularly bothered the past few days by a couple of discrete incidents which upon reflection are part and parcel of the same issue.

The issue being a leech; a succinct definition ascribed by a friend when I rather inadequately tried to explain how I’ve been feeling about my stammer becoming part of my identity without my consent. It’s pretty accurate actually.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve been lax.

Moreover, I’ve been lacking; in motivation primarily, although in unity with a lack of connection to the internet (thanks must go BT broadband for continually disappointing me), without which I would have had to take full responsibility for have not written sooner.

And I feel bad about it. Writing has taken on almost a form of therapy (cue the violins…) in the absence of obtaining physical support from the medical profession.

There’s only so many times you can get discharged from clinics without starting to think that perhaps you might smell a bit. Well, if only that was the reason.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve had a frenetic few days really, and not the time nor space to really make any sound decisions.

Often it feels as though life carries you along like a tide, while you drift further away from your destination without the control to bring yourself back on course.

After a fabulous family wedding back home and a zippy catchup with my sister and her children this weekend, we were back on the road winging our way back to ordinary life to churn out job applications and amended CVs for imposed deadlines.

It’s so odd that visiting home in Southport feels such worlds apart from our life in Leicester, but a relief in some respects that it’s a world we’re to return to imminently.

Read the rest of this entry »

That’s what the letting agent said. She didn’t elaborate.

It did make me think though; what if we all have a different idea of what a stammer should sound like, and what the behaviours and triggers are for a “nomal stutter”?

What’s become an everyday norm for me seems somewhat severe and extreme in some people’s eyes, and for others due to its nature doesn’t qualify as a stammer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Finding somewhere to live or getting a job?

Bearing in mind that a finite timescale is involved before I leave my current job to go home, and that jobhunting isn’t a particularly fruitful activity at the best of times especially in the current climate, it seemed prudent to start working to resolve both challenges.

Read the rest of this entry »

That’s what it says on the job specification. That, and every other spec of about a hundred that I’ve looked at.

I never thought that job hunting back home was ever going to be easy, especially in the midst of a recession; but I also hadn’t anticipated having my normal speech taken away from me so swiftly either.

Read the rest of this entry »

Somehow, yesterday managed to be one of the most truly awful and awesome days imaginable. I’m still not entirely sure how. But I’m relieved, completely relieved that it’s over.

So I had my neurology appointment to get to, which was a mission in itself. I cowardly wimped out of tackling that bloomin’ big hill on my bike up to the hospital again and decided to get the bus instead.

Well, I didn’t realise until I was halfway there to the bus stop that I was going to have to tell the driver where I was going.  You just don’t think about these things, do you? I’m just so used to being able to do it without a second thought.

Read the rest of this entry »

So it’s not exactly been a fun few days, I’m not going to lie.

The robot voice deteriorated into speechlessness again, and I’ve spent the last three days having to write on scraps of paper to be able to communicate.

Which, you know, on the face of it doesn’t sound so bad, but it’s that kind of isolation like being lost at sea with no one there, so you write letters – except everyone still is there, it’s just they can’t take on board what you’re trying to say.

Events always seem to magnify the patheticness of having to resort to write when you can’t speak. Take, for example, the fact that my bike tyre got punctured.

I needed to have it fixed so I could attend my neurology appointment today – without it, I would have had to try to speak to a taxi or bus driver. Neither, I imagine, would have been particularly successful attempts.

Read the rest of this entry »

Seriously, my brain’s having a right giggle at the moment.

My speech hasn’t been great today. Much harder to get words out than usual, but really oddly since leaving work to come home it’s slowed right down.

My normally quite speedy stammer (I tend to try to push through all the repetitions quite quickly to get my words out before I forget what I’m trying to say)  has become almost robot sounding over the past couple of hours.

Read the rest of this entry »

Yesterday I was at a wedding (in Windsor incidentally and a great excuse for a trip to Legoland today – which was ace by the way!) and as much as anyone dreads the prospect of meeting a ridiculous amount of their boyfriend’s external family members in one fell swoop, I was just hoping they’d be able to understand me.

Read the rest of this entry »

I know it must sound quite silly, but it’s really been getting to me of late the fact that I can’t sing anymore.

I adore music and find myself compulsively trying to join in with songs, but I just can’t do it anymore.

I’ve almost stopped trying to open my mouth to sing now when I hear a catchy tune, as subconsciously it’s finally starting to sink in – but to be honest, the alternative just seems a bit lame.

Read the rest of this entry »

…the truth flows, so they say.

The point I’m trying to make is that children are more perceptive of what’s going on around them than the realities adults choose to face up to.

The reality in this case is that kids will make it pretty apparent that they’re aware of my stutter, ask forthright questions about stamering that adults would never dream of doing.

They’d rather just pretend it wasn’t there. And keep telling me that it’s all going to go away. That I’ll have normal speech again. Whether they’re just hopeful or delusional, I think they seriously need a chat with my speech therapists to bring them back down to earth and realise that injuries aren’t always so easy to fix. Brain injuries are even harder.

This rambling post mostly stems out of my appreciation that my niece and nephew take me and my stutter at face value with no pretences, and the sad realisation yesterday that given their ages (just 5 and 2 years old) although they currently remember when “Auntie Jo could talk properly”, that when they’re  older they won’t have any memory of it at all.

Read the rest of this entry »

Where do you turn when no-one knows how to help?

That’s what I’ve been wondering today…if the very people who are professionally most capable of helping to regain my speech and reduce the stammer are ready to pass the buck, then is it likely that anyone will manage it?

I had speech therapy today after about a month of no sessions (she was on holiday etc) and after having been given an assessment in the neurology department at the hospital to determine if there was anything identifiable in the way my brain is now processing information, I’d been quite hopeful that speech therapy might have started to move finally somewhere.

That’s the problem though; I keep getting my hopes up and find them being dashed time and again. This time, by the sad realisation that they’ve simply run out of ideas how to help me.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’m absolutely livid.

Whilst cycling home from work, a couple of boys threw a rock at me and hit me in the neck. I yelped, but not much more sound came out than that.

It really hurt, and wasn’t a particularly small rock either. What I’m most upset about is I don’t know who I’m more angry with; these prats for hurting me without cause, or my inability to be able to defend myself verbally.

Read the rest of this entry »

At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

I’m beyond cross. Guess whose speech has gone into hiding again? Bingo!  I think someone up there is playing one cruel joke. I really do.

I’ve had a really rough day; the worst night’s sleep on record last night, first day back at work after having swine flu (major shock to the system – I ache all over), rude people ringing up and informing me that “something’s wrong with the telephone connection” when I pick up, and then British Gas…

British Gas and their sodding voice recognition telephone services. Annoying at the best of times, but throw in a severe stammer and that computer’s got no clue what you’re trying to tell it.

Read the rest of this entry »

…since all this happened now. I’m really starting to struggle to recall exactly when and where various doctor/consultant’s appointments took place; how I got to this position where the stammer isn’t a temporary adjustment, but a fact of everyday life.

Six months, it seems, is a very long time in the NHS. Six months where nothing has really happened. No improvement, just silent resignation.

Read the rest of this entry »

…but if you can’t sing, can you ever win?

I can’t sing anymore. I’d really like to be able to.

It’s one of the things I miss most since acquiring this stammer. However, singing and stuttering aren’t a match made in heaven – by any means.

What used to make me feel all kinds (elation, serenity, peace), now is just another means of ridiculing me – reducing me to nothing more than a public embarassment.

Read the rest of this entry »

That’s what I had thought. And I really truly thought I was used to the stammer. Until I find myself challenged by it.

It wasn’t even anything serious, just struggling to get a word in edgeways while bantering with the boyfriend.

I forget now on a day-to-day basis what an effort it is to get my words out – in that sense, I have become used to the stutter – but with interruptions it’s really hard.

Read the rest of this entry »

Okay so I’m having to stay home until I’m no longer contagious with this damned swine flu – which inconveniently means that life has had to come to a standstill when I actually had a lot of plans for this week.

I’d had to cancel my appointment to the homeopath earlier this week (which I’d been waiting for as my head pains have come back),  cancelled an evening out with a couple of friends I hadn’t seen for over a year (very disappointed about this), and had to send apologies to a friend who’s getting married today (who I was incredibly excited about being able to see with her hair out and dressed in bright colours and shiny sequins instead of the black dress and hijab I’ve known her to wear everyday for the last five years).

As disappointing as all of this was, there was a sense of relief too – at the thought of not having to humiliate of myself in front of more people, at not having to see the pity on people’s faces or the sheer confusion as they try to make out what I’m trying to say.
Read the rest of this entry »

Ugh. I really couldn’t feel any rougher right now. It’s been a crappy month, it really has.

Not only have I lost my speech twice (for a week each time), but I’ve gone and caught swine flu too and am now off work until I’m no longer contagious.

Fortunately my boyfriend’s caught it too so at least we’re being poorly together – but when you’re feeling under the weather and neither of you feels like cooking there’s only so much crap food you can eat.

That aside, the symptoms are far worse than the inconvenience… Read the rest of this entry »

Well, I’m not quite Madonna but things have settled back down again.

No more babysitting, no more lack of internet, no more loss of speech and back to work after a week off.

After my speech disappearing again last Monday, it stayed in hiding until the Friday; and then just magically started to come back again. Sometimes I have no idea what my head is playing at, some kind of jape whatever it is.

Read the rest of this entry »

That’s what I’ve learnt over the past two days. I’d realised it before, but not so much as having lost my speech -again, second time in a fortnight; so not at all impressed – during the week I’m meant to be childminding my niece and nephew.

It’s infuriating that a 2-year-old is more intelligible than I am, horrible that they can’t even read what I want to communicate to them, and utterly soul destroying that because I can’t interact and reassure them as they want me to that they’re starting to find Auntie Jo boring.

This week was meant to be fun, some quality time with them – but really all I feel is despair. And I’m loathe to admit it. But, honestly – it’s the truth. Read the rest of this entry »

A very odd session this week – well, anything had to be better than a speech session where all you do is write – as I had last week, thanks to my speech entirely disappearing and leaving me with not much more than a grunt. Useful.

Anyway I digress, this week’s session for the first time really concentrated on the “therapy” bit of speech therapy – it was more like a counselling session than anything else. I think the speech therapist has run out of ideas as to how to tackle it all for the time being and she seems to think that if we manage to deal with my feelings about the stammer, then it might be possible to have an impact of the stammer itself.

So she decided that even if no-one was able to help me currently, that working through how I could help myself further would be a good start. Here’s what happened… Read the rest of this entry »

That’s what a client said over the phone yesterday, and the bad line was my stammer-filled speech.

Probably the most polite way of putting it that I’ve encountered yet; certainly better than beng hung up on or having someone shout down the phone “are you taking the pi**?” – You’ve got to love the social skills of taxi firms…or not.

But it raised an interesting point; the client had assumed that there was a bad connection over the landline phone because my speech wasn’t clear; and in his eyes, what other reason could there be?

Read the rest of this entry »

Two things had been bugging me.

One, my blog roll was looking decidedly empty but after looking at different sites on the internet I’d kind of got disheartened by the blogs on stuttering/stammering out there. They all see to be by people trying to sell you some magical cure for stammering – not great.

As my speech therapist said when I first met her, if there was a cure out there they’d give it to everyone who needed it and speech therapists would be out of their jobs and not trying desperately to help people manage their speech. Fair point.

Secondly, and probably more importantly for me, I’d been frustrated by the distinct lack of availability to find people who’re going through the same things that I am.

As I’ve said on more than one occasion, it’s been tremendously isolating acquiring this stammer, learning to live with it, and encountering just how small-minded some people can be.

Well, no more! Read the rest of this entry »


Posted on: July 15, 2009

Hell, some people are absolute idiots, you know?

Yesterday, some dippy driving instructor(!) nearly ran me over in the city centre and then had the gaul – despite being in the wrong – to have a full on argument wth me in the street.

Add to that the fact, I was pretty upset by the incident and also that arguing with a stammer’s pretty difficult at the best of times to get your point across and you’ll probably have an idea of what it was like.

To clarify, before you think I’m a wreckless cyclist whose fault it was I’d just nearly been run over, I’ll explain… Read the rest of this entry »

Speech is finally back after being AWOL for nearly 4 days. I’ll tell you, it’s pretty freaking scary.

Just being able to get more than a grunt out (even if my speech is still littered with repetitions) is such a relief.

That’s the longest it’s disappeared for; usually it’s just for a day, two at most when I get distressed. The vocal chords just seize up completely and it’s just a case of waiting…waiting for it all to come back again. Read the rest of this entry »

I can’t speak at the moment, but I can write – so I figure this’ll be a good way to stop all my thoughts whirring around my head.

That, and more importantly, to feel like people can hear me – even if it’s not my voice they’re listening to.

The slightest accident seems to have had the biggest impact upon my life. Crazy really.

Either way, as difficult as it’s made life, it’s been an incredibly eye-opening experience. An experience I may as well share, because prior to hitting my head and causing the stammer, language problems and speechlessness – I would never have imagined that people would react and respond as they have done: in some cases for better, but in many for the worse.

A friend suggested I write about all of this; I’ve thought about it, and it seems a good idea. So here’s stammerheadshark – my story of learning to live with an acquired neurological stammer.

Blog Stats

  • 13,346 nice people were interested enough to read

To contact stammerheadshark…


It’s not going to be a short story…