April 27, 2015: Conversation Killer

~by Louis Templeman

“I can’t understand you. All I can hear is dinging, like someone is pushing buttons on the phone.”

I am new to smart phones. It took me a week to learn how to answer it. During that short time I accessed my voice mail and made return calls. Now can I not only answer it, I can text, use the calendar and . . . well, that is about it so far. I will keep exploring. Lots of features and lots of geography on that little device. It can be intimidating for a novice.

I have an extra problem now. I cannot hold the phone to my ear without my left hand doing the Watusi. So, my wiggling phone bounces off my ear and taps the screen. And so, all the pinging noises when I talk on the phone. I need my right hand free to make notes.

The medicine I am beginning now, Ropinirole, may be working a bit. I won’t be up to full strength for two more weeks. Hopefully, by then the tremors will have reduced significantly. It is becoming an obstacle in my conversations. Even phone conversations are affected.

Last Friday, I had supper with a friend. He will be 90 this year. He was 25 when I caught my first breath. By all appearances his health is more vibrant and stable than mine. This last meal together I noticed more dead spots in the conversation than previously. That bothered me. I began to wonder if I had offended him by some casual remark or by some negligence on my part. The conversation was good but not lively as was the previous ones.

As I drove home I had to battle some doubts and guilt (this kind of thing is why I still go to therapy). Eventually, before I arrived home I realized I opened up the table talk with the neurologist’s confirmation of my diagnosis. He looked like he’d been punched in the gut. He recovered quickly and asked appropriate questions and offered comfort. And, thus began our conversation, the joy of which was spotty at best. This disease, I am learning, has disturbing effects on conversation.

All I can figure is I am not comfortable with it so I must transmit that in my voice or my eyes. The phone thing was at worse comic. But this table conversation killer has happened several times. I am sure it will get better.

I am beginning to give God thanks for leading me on one more difficult road. There is no building of character or deepening of one’s prayer life without suffering in one way or another. And, also, as I found in an article Dorothy Day, it could count as reparation for some of my many sins and thereby shorten my time in purgatory. I greatly admire her and if that is her belief then I will embrace it also.

It is certainly a drag and sometimes embarrassing but there are also many spiritual benefits to be had. I must choose to dwell on them.


Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D. Louis has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is fighting the good fight. Much of what he writes these days he is sharing his journey with us. Please keep Louis and his wife Joy in your prayers.

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