Friday, June 2, 2017

Speech, and Other Inconsequential Ramblings of a Condemned Man

Me: <inaudible grumble mumble, mumble grumble>
Brie: “What?”
Me: <inaudible grumble mumble, mumble grumble>
Brie: “What?”
Me: “Eleanor, my mother what I just said, please.”
E: “Daddy said he was going to the store to get some milk. Do you need anything else?”
Brie: “No, I’m going.”
Me: <inaudible grumble mumble, mumble grumble>
E: “He will be back in about 10 minutes.”
Brie: “OK, hun. Have fun.”
Me: <inaudible grumble mumble, mumble grumble>

My normal state is to sound like a drunken frat boy stumbling home on Saturday night. Given the fact I also stumble, fall regularly, and generally move around as if I’m intoxicated, I spend a lot of time convincing people I’m OK.
- I’ve been cut off in bars before ordering my first drink.
- When I was working, I had several complaints to HR about being drunk at work.
- I see the stares & overhear the chatter when I am out around people who don’t know me, especially if I have a beer in my hand.
My slurred speech does not present a physical danger to me, as do many symptoms of my MS. More than anything, my speech is a symptom which further mutes my desire to spend time in larger crowds. It kills me to think there are parents who ask the question, “What the hell is up with Eleanor’s dad?”
Friends and family members who spend a decent amount of time around me usually understand my words, although there are always those times… If we haven’t spent much time together recently, they may not comprehend my words as well, but they understand my basket of issues. Eleanor, My Little Love, is the only person I have never needed to repeat myself (except for the occasional, “huuuuh?” when her nose is buried in her iPad). She doesn’t know daddy any other way; to her, this is normal.
So, if you see me out somewhere and I look like I’ve had a few too many, please feel free to ask me. If you still think I’ve had too much to drink, stick around for a while. Have 4 or 5 delicious IPAs with me. If my slurring and stumbling get worse, I wasn’t drunk when we ran into each other.


Speech Problems
Speech problems, including slurring (dysarthria) and loss of volume (dysphonia) occur in approximately 25-40% of people with MS, particularly later in the disease course and during periods of extreme fatigue. Stuttering is occasionally reported as well.

The fight is not over and it won’t be over until a cure is found.
It will never stop…nor will we
It will never quit…nor will we
This is why we fight!

Never Stop… Never Quit…®
Kevin Byrne
Portland, OR

1 comment:

  1. Yes. Sometimes I find it hard to understand your speech, but it is always worth it. Kevin, you are an amazing hero to share this journey with us.