Monday, September 03, 2007

Porky Pig In Court...Subtitled: MS And Word-Finding Difficulties Suck...

Most of you know, my job involves psychiatry and legal assessments for mental health commitment...I don't talk much about my work because, for the most part, what I do is shroud in HIPAA (Healthcare Information Act) and privacy laws.

But, one of the pieces of my job is to provide court testimony when needed...sometimes to defend my legal decisions, sometimes as an "expert" witness. This is a part of my job I LOATHE, so most often I try to avoid having to go to hearings whenever possible...and honestly, I fairly rarely ever have to BE in court to provide testimony...something I'm quite proud of (in other words, the majority of my legal decisions are upheld).

Tomorrow...Tuesday...is an unavoidable court day. I am my own witness on a case and will most likely be called in to testify. And, although I LOATHE having to go to hearings, it's really not that big of a deal once I get past the "swear to tell the whole truth so help you God" part. But at least they've finally gotten rid of the Bible on the stand!

The first part of court testimony involves raising the right hand and being sworn in...I wear my MS Band of Hope on my right wrist, which helps avoid confusion over which arm is my left and which is my right (believe me...it's happened before!). The second part of testimony involves answering questions under oath, usually from defense attorneys who are paid to try and make a fool out of me in attempt to set their client free...whether they NEED to be in the hospital or not.

Lately I've noticed when under stress, my word-finding difficulties exacerbate. I become a stuttering Porky Pig...kind of like this:



I don't really have any fancy tricks to avoid the brain drain that occurs in these stressful situations...I try to stay calm...I try to rehearse any specific dynamics or wording I might need to make my point. I try to get enough sleep so I can be as alert as possible. I laugh at myself and hope others laugh along and/or finish my sentences for me. But beyond those basic practices, MS and word-finding problems are my nemesis in my job.

Anybody ELSE have specific word-finding difficulties? What do YOU do to try to lessen the effect in your speech? Any words of wisdom?...

7 comments:

Bubbie said...

Sorry Ms.Cheese, I can not offer any helpful advice for this dilemma. Finding and using the appropriate words would not be my problem in this situation. My problem would be staying focused on the proceedings and not noticing the the judges bad toupee, the pontificating lawyer reminding me of a character in an old 50's movie and whatever else clouds my brain with absurditity. Cracks me up just thinking about it. I.E. is me.

Bubbie said...

ooops..E.I is me!! I forgot the words!

Zee said...

My neuro swears that I don't have enough MS progression in my brain to have word-finding difficulties but I most certain DO have trouble a lot of the time. Usually, the only thing that helps me is to pause and just wait for the word to come... Obviously not an ideal solution :( but it's about all I can do. Good luck today!!

mdmhvonpa said...

So, instead of a Bureaucrat you are a HIPPA-crit?

;)

And yes, I suffer from an incurable case of 'Tip of the Tongue Phenomenon' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tip_of_the_tongue) ... drives me nuts.

Steve said...

As a trainer, I've had to get up in front of large groups (sometimes close to 2000 people). It can be hard, sometimes, to put together a coherent sentence. I actually empathized with that little girl on the Ms. Teen pageant. While she may very well be a bit ditzy, I would challenge anyone of her critics to get up on a stage in front of thousands, and a national audience of some unknown number at any age and put together a rational sentence on world peace.

All of that to say, my advice is to not search for words. We know you're an articulate and eloquent writer. Well... maybe I wouldn't go THAT far! :) Regardless, keep it as simple as possible.

In lessons on public speaking, particularly where someone is going to be interacting with the audience, I try to stress simplicity. Don't say in 10 words what you can say in 2. Keep your vocabulary as basic as necessary and don't stress about it.

Also, particularly where your words may be scrutinized as in a hearing, I would suggest taking your time. As far as I'm concerned, there is no such thing as "awkward silence." Take what time you need to gather your thoughts and say what you mean. Better that than rushing and having your words spun around on you.

Oh, and have fun.

Anonymous said...

I am currently having a neurological workup. I had an MRI of my brain and c-spine, 20 bloodtests, evoked potentials (auditory, visual, medial) to come. I have had Odd things going on for a number of years, but the past two years things have been hitting me constantly: reocurring iritis, feeling like the tin man on wizard of oz, left side weakness (abnormal reflex), leg jerking in bed, fatigue, tingling sensations in feet, left arm, falling a few times (maybe I can explain the, but not sure), and now I have begun having more than the usual wordfinding difficulties - I was talking to my son, directly looking at him, called him his sister's name and he had to tell me "I'm Dulus not Tara" - I didn't realize I had called him Tara, I was lying in bed the other night, my husband heard me call the cat by the other cat's name (I didn't catch it). I was talking to a friend today who had visited a few weeks ago and when I told him my concern he said you called me another name when I was there. I'm scared and have also been having severe left side neck radiating into back pain - all of my symptoms seem to come and go, but this name thing is new and worsening. I think it is more than depression or stress. I'm looking forward to hearing the test results when I return home from a 4 day getaway with my husband.

BRAINCHEESE said...

ANON:

Wow! That sounds somewhat scary what you are discribing and not knowing what the cause is...I'm very sorry you are having to endure this.

Sounds like you may have done a drive by here looking for some answers to your symptoms. Unfortunately, there are a number of disorders that "could" be causing your distress...but if it's MS, your doctor IS doing all the right tests to rule it in or out.

I hope you get some answers soon...and if it does turn out to be Multiple Sclerosis, remember you are not alone. Please feel free to "drive by" here any time if it is helpful for you!

Linda D.