I was at a loss for words and speechless on a couple of recent occasions.
The first instance of finding myself speechless occurred when a cardiologist poked me in the indentation in the center of my chest and said, “That is hard on your heart!” I was lying on a table in preparation for an echocardiogram, and this took me by surprise as no other doctor had ever expressed concern. I wanted to know why it is hard on my heart, but I couldn’t find any words to assemble into a sentence to respond. After a pause, the cardiologist poked again and repeated, “That is hard on your heart!”
With still no response from me, he proceeded with the echocardiogram. I wished I had been able to ask him what he meant by his remark, but no words came to me. So I have scheduled another appointment in a few weeks specifically to ask why that is hard on my heart, and what I should do, or not do, to help my heart. Hopefully, in the intervening weeks, I will be able to assemble a list of relevant questions.
My Family Physician (PCP, GP):
The second instance of being speechless occurred in my family physician’s office. I have only been seeing her for about three years. I have never gone into detail with her about my longstanding ME/CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), or any of the other conditions that come with it, because I have seen many specialists over the years and have resigned myself to the reality that the medical profession has no cure. However, I was dumbstruck to hear her say that I simply needed to get more aerobic exercise, and that there is nothing wrong with me physically! And she briefly described a plan for increasing aerobic activity. I think this was her polite way of saying that she thinks my illnesses are all in my head.
Over the past nineteen years, I have learned from several doctors that there most definitely is something physically wrong, that I will probably never recover, that aerobic exercise may be harmful, and that my illness is not in my head. And I have made many attempts to increase my activity level, all to no avail. However, I found myself unable to respond, literally speechless.
As a result, my physician undoubtedly assumes that I accept her misdiagnosis, and her inappropriate treatment plan. I have about ten weeks until my next appointment, and so I will be attempting to prepare a response to the question I expect: “So how is your aerobics program going?”
The pause that reboots:
This inability to quickly assemble words, in response to an event or to a question, is a common experience for me. I often have to pause, or even go away and think things through, before I can generate a response. An exception might be when someone attacks me. Then a response might explode as if shot from a cannon, which is usually not very helpful as it has not been well thought out. Another exception would be when I am talking about a special interest of mine. Then the words just flow non-stop!
An alternative way to think:
I often think in pictures. I can design and build a house, or a boat, entirely in my head — or drive a steam locomotive, or have a stimulating conversation with anyone — all in my head. This inner reality is so vivid it is almost like the real world. I’ll write about how thinking in pictures can sometimes interfere with good communication in my next post.
So do you ever find yourself at a loss for words?
Edit: I put a link in the comments to a video on communication aids for iPod and iPad.