Tag Archives: ALZHEIMER’S SPOUSE ISSUES

LARYNGITIS– VERBAL AND MENTAL

CAN'T TALK

I have not written for several weeks. I have thought about posting of course. There have been plenty of incidents with Ralph to describe, trips to doctors, visits from friends, tractor crises*, funny conversations (i.e.: me: ”Sitting on the porch to smoke in the morning in your boxer shorts might not be a great idea.” Ralph: “If a car turns up the driveway I’ll see it and go in the house.” “But they’ll see you too.” “So what?” Indeed, so what?). . I would lie in bed in the morning thinking about a situation that I wanted to share, but when I sat down to write I would get distracted. Or with increasing frequency, I wouldn’t make it to my computer I wouldn’t make it to my computer at all.

Then I got a bad cold/flu complete with laryngitis. Of course that didn’t affect words (not) coming from my typing fingers only from my mouth, but it feels pretty apropos. Both a symptom and a metaphor for my condition and Ralph’s.

In Ralph’s case he has a version of mental laryngitis. There is no way he can get beyond the blockage. He cannot get from here to there mentally. So although I have told him 15 or 20 times in the space of a morning that x=x, he keeps repeating that x=y. Each time he says x=y, I correct him. Each time he says, Right, I forgot. And each time I become a little bit more impatient.

(Needless to say, this morning we have been having a x=x/x=y issue concerning our lack of heat in the house. Ralph keeps asking what made our heater go out and I keep reminding him that I actually turned it off on purpose. In fact, he is not wrong—the system is broken—but the complexity of the situation, that the system has sent our electric usage meter soaring and I turned it off until a technician can find the problem, overloads his memory systems. As I was writing this tech guy came and Ralph started to tell him that the heat was broken; I re-explained and have sent him to his office.)

But my impatience dissipates when I visualize Ralph with laryngitis, especially if I do so while I have it myself. I can feel what it is like to have something caught in whatever the passage leads from memory to thought, not unlike the words caught in the passage between my brain and my mouth (or my typing finger, let’s be honest) Laryngitis is isolating, but in an oddly dreamy way also escapist because it is so straightforward; you cannot make yourself speak without having a voice. So I watch Ralph sitting beside me yet slightly removed with new understanding. He has realized that certain passages are blocked and he can’t unblock them.

As for me and my laryngitis, I am hoarse but talking again. But I have also realized that I have some blockage too. I have found some memories of my life with Ralph now and in the past so difficult that I have silenced them and in doing so have silenced myself. The difference between Ralph and me is that I can, I hope and with some effort, chip away at my blockages, while Ralph may not have that option.