Many things I have found “fixes” for, or at least ways to reduce the severity of some symptoms. However, there is one area that only seems to get worse over time regardless of how others may fluctuate. That’s the cognitive impairments. Now, if you were to walk up to me and try to start a little brief small talk, you may not notice any issue at all. But ask me to explain something, remember something detailed, or keep me talking for a bit longer, it will start to become increasingly apparent.
Due to exhaustion and hyperesthesia increasing as I age, I am slowly loosing communication skills:
- speaking in fragments,
- words in the wrong order,
- missing words,
- using the wrong words,
- being unsure of the meaning of a word,
- brain freeze when asked simple questions or explaining simple things,
- difficulty with pronunciation,
- stumbling over words,
This is after conversations lasting a few minutes. I have difficulty understanding what others are saying when I’m too fatigued or they speak too fast, I cannot understand others with even a mild accent, and have difficulty speaking in person and over the phone. Some days I can’t understand what people are saying at all. I may catch a few words, but that doesn’t help me understand what’s being said.
I have great trouble in holding attention for more than a few seconds at a time, leaving me confused often when others speak to me. I have to ask them to repeat the beginning, middle, or end of the story. If they laugh, I laugh too, even if I have no clue what they just said that was funny. I just play along. If they are telling me something and I kind of know what they are talking about, I just keep nodding my head and hope for the best.
If I think it’s something important that they are telling me, I ask them to clarify until I understand. I tend to spend more time watching movies or reruns of old TV shows that I have seen a few times than I do new shows or movies, because I often get very confused and cannot follow the plot and remember character names and faces.
I don’t recognize people I know unless I actively try to recognize someone. I can look right at someone I know and not recognize their face. I’m actually more likely to recognize their hair style, body type, or voice than their face. People who pass me by in stores or by my house have a blurred face until I actively focus on the face to recognize them.
It’s no longer automatic, and I use to always recognize and never forget a face. I could meet someone briefly once and recognize them a year later. However, I’ve always had trouble focusing my attention and thoughts, and speaking at an intelligence level far less than my written capabilities, but I have never had so much trouble speaking as I have over the past few years.
It’s quite possible that this is because that’s when what little social life I had left took a steep drop and I no longer had a roommate. Since I cannot leave the house for long, and I’m in too much pain and too exhausted to talk much when out of the house, it poses a severe limitation on socializing, and the desire to socialize at all. Throw in that my life, mind, and body is immensely different that most people’s, and my condition is impossible to understand (no one ever has), and I am left with only having shallow conversations with people, which do not interest me at all, or spending the entire conversation struggling to explaining myself and life, which is a fruitless endeavor.
Talking with my dog, to myself, singing a bit here and there, and whistling helps to keep me talking, but these are brief exercises, resulting only in brief results. At this point, family texts, friends facebook, and I write everything down either in email or notes for pretty much everyone else (if I can).
I’d say I miss talking, conversing, but honestly it’s always been such a challenge that I feel more of a relief from not having to speak than I feel a sense of nostalgia. But I have to be intellectually and creatively stimulated on a regular basis — so I read, I problem-solve, I write, and I create daily.