Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Writing Wednesday: Adventures in Speech Pathology

Some days, I really, really like being a speech pathologist.  Some days, well, I don't.  

But one of the great things about my job and the populations I work with is that there's always something to laugh about.  Take, for example, a recent conversation I had with one of our patients at the skilled nursing facility (euphemism for "nursing home with a rehab wing full of people who should probably be admitted to a nursing home").  

I walked into the room of two elderly Hispanic women who are on our caseload, both for dysphagia (euphemism for "swallowing") issues.  Both women were seated in reclining chairs next to their beds.  One of the women ("Sister") was talking in Spanish at the top of her voice.  After I caught a few familiar words, I realized she was praying.  Loudly.  And once she finished in Spanish, she started in English.  

I didn't want to interrupt her prayer, but I also needed to get their therapy done, so I began talking to her roommate ("afghan lady") who, by the way, was staring fixedly at the muted tv and appeared utterly unfazed by Sister's booming supplications.  Loudly, I began asking her if she recalled any safe swallowing strategies.  

"Take small bites," she said.  At least, what I thought she said--she spoke softly and I was lip-reading.  Sister was still going strong.  

"Can you remember any more?" I asked afghan lady.  

With hardly a break in stride, in the same volume and manner in which she'd been praying, Sister said, "You must take small bites and small sips, and then God will help you swallow!"  

Her eyes were still closed in the attitude of prayer, and I grabbed her hand.  "Yes," I said.  "Very good.  Small bites and small sips."  

Her hand clasped mine, vice-like.  "Yes, Sister.  And God will help us!  He will always help us!"


I smiled as I walked out of that room a few minutes later, Sister's loud blessing following me down the hall.