This post is part of a series of posts on the topic of speech. Please read the first post in the series, New Blog Topic: Speech, to give you some idea of the backstory here. 99% of the time I’m completely unable to use speech as a primary mode of communication, and that is still true. But this speech blog topic is about both my baseline level of speech these days, and an emergency speech mode that sometimes makes me fluent without any conscious control over the process.
…well it’s funny when viewed from a certain perspective, and in hindsight mostly. And it illustrates a serious problem of inconvenience with emergency speech. It also happens to be the shortest period of emergency speech I’ve ever had1.
So one day I decided to go to the farmer’s market. Someone would drive me there and I’d walk home. I didn’t take a lot of mobility or communication equipment I really could’ve used. I wasn’t expecting to need it. Mistake.
Anyway, I tried to walk around a very long line at one of the booths, and hit a slippery patch of mud. I took one of the most spectacular falls I’ve ever taken.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen someoone W-sit. I’m hypermobile and such a posture comes naturally to me. (It’s considered horrible for you but if your joints are loose it’s a very stabilizing sort of posture.) Normally, W-sitting looks kinda like this:
So just imagine that I’m lying flat on my back and my legs are kind of in that W-position except somehow they’re folded so they’re underneath my back, and you’ll get the general idea. I’m at that point in excruciating pain.
So I yell — with total clarity and fluency and no trouble at all making myself understood, nor any pre-planning to what I was going to say — “WILL SOMEONE PLEASE HELP GET MY LEGS OUT FROM UNDER ME!?”
And someone runs over and does it.
The sharpest of the pain vanishes instantly.
And then I can’t talk anymore.
And at that point there’s paramedics, and a lot of information I have to give them, and talking would be really convenient at that point. But nope. No fluent speech available. Barely any non-fluent speech available. And I’ve got several broken ribs and two sprained ankles. (They concentrated so much on the ankles that none of us even noticed the ribs until later after I’d got home. Fortunately(?) because I have osteoporosis, I’m used to broken ribs and knew what to do.)
It ended up okay, but this is a good example of the way that emergency speech is largely outside my control. And how it doesn’t always have a lot of rhyme or reason in terms of convenience — it would’ve been nice if it stuck around for the paramedics, but it didn’t. My brain has a mind of its own when it comes to the occasions it decides fluency is gonna happen.
I don’t remember exactly when this happened, other than that it was the same summer I was in the ICU, after my ICU-acquired emergency speech2 had gone away. I also remember that they actualy discovered the many healed broken ribs, along with a stable stress fracture to my T12 vertebra, the December after this. They’d been doing a lung x-ray and my lungs were fine but other things were clearly not. So this would’ve been the summer of 2016, I just figured out by checking some records.
But… yeah. Apparently my brain decides when fluency is medically necessary, and it doesn’t always agree with me on the matter…
1 Understand I haven’t had this happen that many times. But the amount of time I’ve had it stay on more or less consistently has ranged from seconds to a few months. Right now I’m in a very weird period where it’s trying to stay on longer than it ought to due to a huge amount of medical crap happening, and the speech trying to turn on even past the point it can sustain itself… it’s causing all kinds of mayhem in the process. And by mayhem I mean actually dangerous to me.
2 This speech had been longer-lived than just a sentence, and lasted my entire ICU stay and then a little after I got out of the hospital. It began sometime in between when I had a long series of seizures, and when I stopped breathing. The existence of speech was actually one of the factors that caused people to call 911.