stammerheadshark * blog about living with an acquired neurogenic stammer

Neurology appointment – Take 2

Posted on: September 12, 2009

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.

I thought that for both the driver’s sake and my own it’d be best to not make vague grunty sounds at him in the vague hope he’d be able to make something intelligible out of it, and just opted for typing it out on my phone and sticking the screen in front of him instead.

Bemused, he finally got the message and the deal was done. It was very odd, but I just felt so proud that I’d even been able to just get away with doing that; that he hadn’t just thought I was being impolite.

I got to the hospital, went to the right department and waited for the neurologist to expand upon whatever pearl of wisdom he’d had the day before  but had failed to explain.

He’d promised that I’d get my speech back to normal, no more muteness, no more stammer; you can understand just how eager I was to hear whatever it was he had to say.

After building up to all that hope (again), it all came crashing down around me once more as he explained that he didn’t know what was wrong with my speech, that no one would be able to tell me, that it was just a functional disorder we had to hope would one day rectify itself.

Just.  Completely blasé, without any responsibility for the promises he’d made. The promises I’d naively hoped to believe unravelled right there in that office with silent tears running down my cheeks.

How dare he. How dare he do that to me, I thought. And he probably had no idea of the impact his words had had.

I couldn’t even convey it, not really. When you can’t speak, all the frustration that you need to ooze from every pore, to say out loud can’t come out. Instead I just sat there pathetically, the anger bubbling away under the surface to the point of combustion.

To have to hope that it would all just go away, as though it was a new idea he’d conjured up. As though I hadn’t already spent the last eight months just hoping it would all go back to normal.

I tried to be pragmatic and make the best use of the time I had left with him, scribbling rapidly on my notepad to ask advice.

What would happen if no one would employ me back home in Southport? Was I regarded as disabled (I wasn’t sure, no one had been able to tell me)? Was there any help I’d be able to access so that I’d not be destitute and living in a cardboard box somewhere?

His retort came back as a slap in the face. “Those [he paused]… are not medical questions.”

The sheer look of relief when I informed him I’d not be in Leicester for the next appointment in six months time, I was somone else’s problem to try and fix.

I got back on the bus, going through the same charade of texting the bus driver my intended destination. He obliged me with a ticket and I just sat there; carried back to work with tears trickling behind the sunglasses I had hoped would mask all the hurt away from prying eyes, but were miserably failing in their task instead.

I got through the door, wrote out a note explaining my distress and was promptly sent home for the day. Work has been so incredibly supportive, I can’t imagine how much harder this would have been without their acceptance.

With my boyfriend at work and the house empty except for a couple of fish (who are lovely, but can’t read or give me a hug), I thought it best to see if someone was available to just be there. To help me rationalise it all.

And they were. I don’t think that I’ve ever been so grateful for people being my friends. I went to my old workplace where  some utterly amazing former colleagues calmed me down and cheered me up.

Inevitably being a disturbance to their work, I left and went to find my “rugby daughter” – Quick explanation: my rugby team’s old girls acquire freshers as daughters to help them settle at uni, and I had maintained a close relationship with mine.

She was fantastic. Patiently waiting for me to pour my heart out on paper and supplying me with tea and chocolate in the meantime, we then decided that there was nothing for it but to get steamingly drunk.

We made a good effort if I’m honest. A couple of bottles of Malibu and Sailor Jerry’s rum later with a sunny afternoon, a barbeque and games of Yahtzee and Top Trumps thrown in and I was a mess. But the good sort of mess you find yourself in when you can laugh at all the heartache and misery.

I must have written nigh on an entire dissertation yesterday in that scrawly notepad and one thing came out of it. That now’s the time to make plans.

The plans I’d had for life might have been scuppered by this experience, but it does leave me with a fresh page. A new chapter.

And in spite of all the crap, that’s a truly exciting proposition. I can still achieve anything if I want to, it’s just going to be a bit harder than it was previously.

But that’s okay, because the things we truly value in life never come to us easily. I just need to learn to remember that on bleaker days.

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