The Day I Started Stuttering.
The pain hit like a lightning strike, starting in the front of my head feeling like the pain version of pop rocks. It crackled, hundreds of little points of sudden stings. It swiftly rushed to the back of my head and it felt like my brain was on fire. I’d been dealing with a headache all day which wasn’t anything out of the normal for me. Whatever just hit though was far beyond what I was used to dealing with and made a headache seem like a walk in the park.
I was in the bathroom on my knees vomiting into the toilet when I collapsed and lost my ability to move. I thought for sure my roommate was going to find me dead in the bathroom. I was going to get the celebrity death even though I wasn’t famous. Just another dude found dead on the bathroom floor. I remember thinking that if I died like this it was at least going to be relatively quick without a lot of torture.
You see, I’d watched my Dad die from cancer in March of 2020 and it was January of 2021. I didn’t want to die lying in a bed, wasting away as my body turned against me. I was actually grateful that if this was my death it’d be fast and in some ways comical. Live for the humor and forget all the rest.
Luckily I didn’t die, but for the next 20 minutes I struggled to speak, move my body or call out for help. Slowly I was able to pull my phone from my pocket and it hadn’t locked yet. So I tried to navigate the screen but my hands were barely moving and when they were they were shaking. So sending a text was out.
I tried to use the Google assistant to call my roommate but I couldn’t get words out. I finally got the phone opened and was able to make a call. The call went to voice mail and I didn’t know what to do. If I called 911 I wouldn’t be able to give them any info, I didn’t want cops storming into the house with guns drawn and so I just stayed put.
Eventually I gathered enough energy to stand up and leaning against the walls, I walked my way upstairs. My roommate was in the kitchen and I remember saying “I need to go to the hospital.” As soon as I said that my heart began hammering and I new I was about to vomit again.
At this point I sort of lost track of what happen, the pain was spiking so bad that I don’t exactly remember everything. I do remember sitting in a chair and puking into a bowl as my roommate’s dog Bobby kept trying to give me kisses. I know I was crying and then I was in a car heading to the hospital.
It was in the backseat of the car when I realized I wasn’t communicating well. I was having trouble putting sentences together in my mind, it was even worse when I tried to say what I was thinking. It sort of sounded like a stroke victim and there was a lot of stuttering. In the video you’ll see how bad my stutter was and I was terrified.
After a lot of time in the ER I was diagnosed with a thunder clap headache. This is something that appears right before a brain bleed or stroke. I was tested for a few things and everything came back fine and the doctors were expecting the worst. They helped lower the pain which was still spiking every few minutes and would continue to do so for the next few months.
I walked out of the hospital stuttering and having trouble putting words together. I was using my phone to communicate and felt like I’d never speak again. I was pretty much nonverbal at this point and tried to wrap my head around what the hell had just happened. I’d been living life relatively happy and then as it does, my crazy medical chaos invited itself to the party.
Over the next 6 months I would attend speech therapy and I have to tell you I didn’t give it much hope. I was banking on not speaking for the rest of my life. I’d started to stutter less over time but speech therapy was awesome in how much it helped me. Now keep in mind this was during the pandemic and leaving the house was a huge risk. I’m stuttering while wearing a mask, being understood was a major problem.
My therapist was super kind and told me the truth. “It’s likely you’ll continue to stutter for the rest of your life however I’ll teach you techniques to reduce the effect it has on your speech.”
My parrot Oreo became my practice partner. I didn’t feel judged about how bad I was stuttering or how many times I messed up the same sentence. I’d spend hours and hours practicing the techniques, constant voicing, paying attention to muscle tension, shaping with my mouth and more. Oreo truly helped me grow comfortable with stuttering.
So I posted the video and wrote this page to let you know that if you suddenly start stuttering your life isn’t over. Seek out a neurologist, find a speech therapist and never stop trying. Yeah, I still stutter but compared to what I was like when it first started I’ve improved greatly. Sometimes I forget I even stutter. Though the second I start trying to sing I remember. As much as I’ve improved singing is still an area I haven’t shown much improvement on.
If you have questions or comments drop me an E-mail and I’ll do my best to respond.
I’ve listed a few resources that helped me when I started stuttering. As I continue to come across helpful sites I’ll update this list.