Remaining Tournament Details

Here’s a description of the bottom half of the bracket:

Food

  1. Ordering for a noisy car full of people at the drive-thru — I hate the drive thru enough, and now we’re adding a bunch of people, talking, being indecisive, not having enough change, and probably being pushy as well. Oh, and then I have to repeat my order a few times since I can’t hear over the ruckus.
  2. Saying grace/prayer for a meal in front of family — I haven’t done this specifically, but I did have to say some religious things at a wedding once. That was not at all pleasant. It’s really quiet, there’s no hiding, and only one way to say it. Oh, and God is watching and listening, too. Although I suppose He understands …
  3. Ordering food at a bar when the bartender is busy — I know what I want, I know what I’m going to stutter on, and this guy has no time for me. He is being called by a waiter, he’s being beckoned by another patron, and he’s filling up drinks. In my mind, I have about 5 seconds to get this order across, and it’s going to take 12 minutes.
  4. Complaining about food or service at a restaurant — I can’t even remember the last time I’ve done this. And of course it’s because of the stuttering. I don’t like conflict, and then for something like food? Forget it. I can just go eat somewhere else.
  5. Giving a custom order at a busy lunchtime — that kind of deal where you have a few slips of paper from coworkers and have to list them all while standing in line. Every order has to be perfect no matter what. And then the added stress of what to do when the restaurant says they don’t have something. Time for a phone call!
  6. Ordering while at a business lunch — ah yes, the path of least resistance. I don’t even care if it’s not what I want. I’m not stuttering in front of my boss and people at his level.
  7. Speaking in a dark and/or loud restaurant over other people — not quite as bad as having to order because well, you don’t actually have to engage in conversation, now do you? Surely there’s a game on that television above the bar …
  8. Asking for a menu clarification — don’t recall the last time I’ve done this, either. If I don’t understand it or think it might have something that tastes odd, move on to the next item! Now is not the time to experiment with fancy burger toppings.

One-on-one

  1. Going on a blind date — all the prepared statements in the world, all the talking to yourself in the mirror or doing silly mouth exercises are a match for this. There are so many variables! Charming? Nervous? How am I coming across? Wait, what’d she just say?
  2. Confronting a neighbor you’ve never spoken to before — particularly for conflict, this is the worst. You have to spend every day in your house then thinking about what the person right there — right there! thinks about you. And to make matters worse, you could have prevented it by just introducing yourself that first day when you saw them move in …
  3. Interjecting / trying to interrupt someone — the open mouth, the finger pointed up. The noise coming out of your mouth that’s not a word. Is anybody looking? Oh, crap, they are. And the person talking is now looking at your eagerly, waiting for your moment of brilliance.
  4. Getting pulled over and speaking to an officer — not only do I have to come up with a decent excuse, but I have to not stutter while doing it. Or should I be charming? Maybe say something witty? Oh, wait, I’m going to stutter, and the officer is going to think I’m on drugs or hiding something, and well, this is going to escalate quickly.
  5. Being interviewed while being recorded – Nothing like having your stuttering burned into the cloud for … ever. And all while having to come up with answers to a meaningful interview.
  6. Immigration official at an international border crossing — long flight, really tired, need to make a connecting flight. No pressure, buddy! Just don’t come across as nervous or like you’re trying to hide something and you should be good. Wait, why are they taking so long with that person? What’s going on?
  7. Meeting friends of friends — You guys call yourself my friends? Surely you know this about me now? What canned stories am I supposed to use here? Stuff about me? Stuff about my friends? I haven’t rehearsed or planned for this!
  8. Answering detailed questions about your work and personal life when getting to know someone – Not so fast, buddy. I’m going to give you short answer and then pop an essay question on you. I don’t faff about with yes/no stuff or multiple choice. Oh no, you’ll be telling me about your childhood while I try to breathe and think of a way out of this …

Stuttering at the Hospital

So i’ve got this hernia. I’ve had it for a few years, and normally it doesn’t bother me too much. I try not to push it too hard, exercise-wise, but the other day … I did. I was working out in the evening, and I knew it was pretty messed up. Nevertheless, I thought I could power through it — maybe it’d go back in while I slept.

Nope.

I slept for about three hours and was up at 2 a.m. Googling my ailment, what doctors and hospitals were covered under my insurance and whether or not I was going to die. Turns out a hernia can be really serious! The intestine can get suffocated and well, bad, bad things happen.

The next morning, my wife drove me to the ER. I suppose one benefit about suburban life is that the emergency rooms aren’t busy. At all. My belly was very sore at this point and didn’t seem to be going away (other times when I aggravated it, it’d go away after a few short hours). Then the ER doc came in and figured things out in less than a minute. Off for a CT scan. (I’d had one of these before for my eye twitch, so no worries there.)

When I got out of that, I sat in the room for a while until the doctor came. Things were feeling better (drugs, sitting up and relaxing all helped). He explained that the intestine wasn’t pushing through the abdomen muscle — it was my fat. Ah, my fat little belly. Causing all sorts of fun.

A few years ago, I would have been ok with his explanation and quick departure. Not so fast this time! I had questions. I stuttered through them, and he listened patiently. I got my answers. We even got to that point where he’s holding out his hand to shake mine, and I’m still stuttering on a word. I shook his hand while still talking and kept asking questions.

The outcome was that I was discharged that morning feeling alright. I took the rest of the day off from work and then stuttered through a voicemail to a surgeon’s office to set up elective surgery. (the surgeon’s office called me back the next day, so hey, they got my stuttertastic message).

I know I stutter. I know it’s hard to ask questions sometimes. But I’m also a customer. I’m a patient. I worry. My loved ones worry. I don’t want to have to rely on a hundred different internet opinions on something this serious. I didn’t die (because of the stuttering) and got all my questions answered.

 

Your Stuttering Pace

I don’t get to watch much (any, really) college basketball here in Saudi. But I know it’s March, and it’s almost time for the Madness. Basketball always gets me thinking about pacing. When you watch a game, you’ll almost always hear the commentators talk about who’s dictating the pace. Who’s trying to slow things down or speed things up. That things are getting out of control, so one team calls a timeout.

Nobody who stutters likes to be told to “slow down.” I think it’s stupid advice, too. But what I want is to move at my own pace.

And sometimes I want to stop.

And take a breath.

And then think.

And then take another breath.

Then think about what my speech therapist told me. Then think about my message.

And then let out my words at a comfortable pace. Not too fast, not too slow.

Very often we’re caught in a much faster, higher pressure situation than we’re comfortable with. But is it really? Ordering at the fast food counter during the lunch rush is high pressure? Seriously? Those people behind you can wait. If you give part of your order and are asked, “and?and?and?” You don’t have to rush out a response. What are they going to do if you take a few extra seconds? Kick you out? Don’t forget about the guy in front of you who stared at the menu for five minutes before figuring out what to order. And he was fluent! Do you think he cared about holding up the line? No.

Asking about my stuttering

Alright, so a few days ago, I said I’d ask my son about my stuttering. I need to explain stuttering to him. I wasn’t sure how to go about doing this other than saying that I’ve been doing it since I was his age, there’s no cure, and oh yeah, it’s because my brain is a little messed up.

So here are his answers to the questions I posted before plus a few more things I thought to ask.

1. Do you know what stuttering is?
When you keep repeating a letter or a sound.

2. Do you hear me stuttering around the house?
Yes

3. Does it bother you?
No

4. Do you think you stutter at all (he doesn’t)
Sometimes when I’m talking fast.

5. Does anybody in your class stutter?
No. I’ve heard them all talk.

6. Have you ever heard anybody on tv or in movies stutter?
No, but I have seen it in books when they’re scared.

7. What do you think causes stuttering?
I don’t know.

Additional questions:

8. Do you think someone who stutters isn’t as smart?
No. They’re the same. (Why?) Because you’re the same as everybody else.

9. Are you tempted to finish my words?
Sometimes? Not really though.

10. Has my stuttering changed in the last few months or stayed the same?
Stayed the same.

11. Is there a time of day that you think I stutter more?
It seems to be more in the afternoon.

12. Do you think it’ll happen to you?
I don’t know. Sometimes I get a little lost while talking, though.

I also explained to him how it’s random and wildly inconsistent. Of course I wasn’t stuttering during all of this. The vibe I got was that stuttering didn’t deserve his attention any more than all the other curiosities of the world. So here again, those of us who stutter think everybody is judging us when in fact our kids are just wondering what’s for dinner, if they can have money for the ice cream social at school and no, bed time is at 9, and it’s only 8:57.

As I think about this more, I think it would have been more meaningful (or still can be) if there’s a broader view of the human body, the motor functions, and how the brain brings it all together. Then dive into what sorts of things can go wrong.

I think the problem with explaining to your fluent kids about your stutter is that they can’t relate at all. It’s likely that 99.9% of their teachers and friends are fluent as well. I’m just trying to think what more, if anything, I can do for my own kids. I think they should be more aware — simply because of me. But I shouldn’t expect that they take it up as some kind of lifelong passion. Or even that they remember to ask me every day how my speech is.

Stuttering through Lunch

Back to talking about the NSA Annual Conference.

Before going to a workshop on What’s Hot in Stuttering Research, I went to … lunch.

There was a First Timer’s lunch, so I grabbed a bagged lunch and headed into the hall. Round tables. Chairs. Strangers. Flashbacks to getting seated at weddings. Having to introduce myself to strangers. Danger! I was already halfway into the room, so no turning back. Wait! You’re here to meet people! No, no! Where’s someone I know? Anybody? I looked around. I was still walking. I was being told where to sit and …

Seated.

Next to a stranger. Other strangers at the table. Someone I know seated next to me! Bonus!

(This is the kind of push-pull that I went through at the conference every day — I’m here to stutter and meet new people. But I’m also holding on to my old ways and fears.)

Alright, let’s get through the introductions. Not all the seats were filled, so that was good. Less stressful at least. The person to my immediate right was not someone who stuttered. She was a speech language pathologist. Well now, this is an interesting change of pace.

While talking to her, I was paying much more attention to my speaking and stuttering. I wasn’t stuttering as much. I wanted to “reset” things after all the stuttering I was doing over the past few hours. Need to keep moving on! Forget the stutter! I talked mostly about my stutter, growing up with it, the job I had now, how awesome the conference was going so far.

She told me about the kind of work she did in the southwest — working at a school district. One thing she said really struck me though — that they needed to do a plan for each student. And then measure progress against that plan. But then … if there’s no cure for stuttering, how could they measure progress?

I haven’t spoken to a lot of SLPs at all (remember, just coming out with all this) so I’d be very interested to hear how this works. I mean, I can see how confidence could increase, how some situations could get better (me ordering at Subway and Starbucks, for instance) but sometimes you just have a bad day, right?

I also wonder if any of this was in play when I did speech therapy during elementary school and high school. Did they figure I was getting better or figure I wasn’t having any serious school issues … so … no need for further therapy?

Sunday Link Roundup

Again a little late. I’m in the States now, visiting friends and family. I came here to see them and of course head to the NSA conference.

For this past week in stuttering, there are a few items — thanks to Twitter, it’s easier to find items of note.

Let’s start with the NSA conference — it starts on July 2nd, and the program is available online now.

Carolina Pediatric therapy posted about children and stuttering — and what to look for during development:

As your child is learning to talk between 18 months and three years old it is common to go through a stuttering “phase”. In most cases it only lasts a few weeks or months and is no reason for concern. So, when should you become worried that your child’s stuttering may be more than a phase? There are a few simple questions you can ask yourself that may help you determine when to call a Speech Pathologist for an evaluation.

Of course you can find a speech language pathologist through the Stuttering Foundation’s site.

The Mighty Snail posted a little rant about stuttering at the workplace.

I enjoyed this tweet:

Do you stutter less when you have caffeine? I think if I have a lot of it, I get going pretty well and don’t stutter as much. But of course that’s a pretty subjective view …

I will admit that I need to start listening to way more podcasts.

That may be a focus of 2015 for me.

And lastly, please do head over to Reddit and check out the Stutter sub-reddit.

Tomorrow I’ll get into what I want to do at the NSA Conference. The rest of the week (and next) will likely be conference-heavy commentary. If you’re going, do send me a note/comment — we should meet up.

It’s entirely possible that I’ve missed things this past week due to travel and whatnot. So let me know!

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