Monday, July 13, 2009

cursing and swearing and Multiple Sclerosis, oh my!

Cursing and swearing has always been one of the oddest changes in Patti with Multiple Sclerosis progression.

“World-renowned expert in cursing”, Dr. Timothy Jay, Massachusetts College Of Liberal Arts offers:

“Swearing is like using the horn on your car, which can be used to signify a number of emotions …”

(“The utility and ubiquity of taboo words” Perspectives on Psychological Science, April 2009)

Dr. Richard Stephens of Keele University in England concludes

"I would advise people, if they hurt themselves, to swear."

(“Swearing as a response to pain” August 2009 NeuroReport)

Challenging economic times have obviously not affected academic funding for research.

Previously, in caregiving: “Hello! You little brat!” I discussed disinhibition, dysphasia, and dysarthia as factors in MS and speech challenges.

Cursing and swearing is different than language, activating the emotional centers in the right side of the brain, rather than the cerebral communication centers on the left.

While trying to watch “Brüno” at a theatre last night Patti experienced one of her ‘choking-like episodes’. Triggered by a scene Patti found hilarious, obviously too hilarious, communication between her brain and throat muscles went all out of MS whack.

When you factor in all the muscle miscommunication ‘not involved’ in swallowing due to MS related dysphagia and left vs right side who’s in charge here you can get an epic portrayal of choking except that Patti is not actually choking. Calming her, distracting her, ‘rebooting her brain’ are the best ways to resolve these episodes.

Coughing, hacking, and gasping for breath is punctuated with expletives that could turn any theatre into X-rated.

Shortly I found a well intended patron at our side offering to help, exiting into the hallway we were joined by theatre staff.

Patron: “Is she OK?”

Patti: “NO!” (gasp) “I am f@cking choking!” (cough)

Patrick: “Patti you are NOT choking!”

Patti: “Eat sh#t (hack) and die (gasp) muther f#cker!”

Staff: “Should I call an ambulance?”

Patti: “No! (cough) You as*hole. (belch) I need a cigarette.”

At least it is NEVER boring!

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer
web site:
musings: Patrick Ponders ...


  1. Years ago, when my grandfather was alive, he had a lot of physical problems and we noticed the worse he got, the more he used foul language.

    Have a good week!

  2. All the power to your foul mouth girl!!!
    She just says what we all want to say

  3. Wow, this not isssue in my family, however 102yr old aunt cussed that way when she was 55. LOL You are one strong man.

  4. All I can say is that on the radio yesterday morning they had a whole discussion about the fact that for some odd reason swearing when hurt of angry does make you feel better.

    I can just imagine how you must have felt but thinking back.... It is kind of funny.

    You are a very good man and I know this has to be hard but you handle things so well.

  5. oh my gosh; I know its not funny but to read it back, it comes back really funny; I echo what Living Day to Day with Multiple Sclerosis said in their comment.

    I remember years ago when I worked in a doctor's office, one of the patients had been hospitalized with a stroke. When he came in for a visit, this previously soft-spoken man used a lot of expletives. I remember the physician saying usually after a stroke the first language that comes back (if it is going to come back) is cuss words, even if the patient wouldn't have normally cussed. Interesting.......

    knowing you, though, Patrick; you'll be out again doing something fun with Patti like another movie of some other event; you certainly don't give up as you attempt to keep Patti involved with what goes on in your community


  6. Indeed, swearing always provides necessary relief for all parties involved. And it's not just the swearing: It's the appropriately placed F-bomb that let's people know you're serious and makes everything better.

    Thanks for sharing, Patrick. This makes me feel more normal, both as a caregiver and as someone who has MS.

  7. I am a 64 year old female, I was diagnosed of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2008 (MRI), my symptoms started out with severe fatigue, poor balance, numbness, double vision, heat intolerance and anxiety. I was unable to go back to work, I tried Betaseron for about 6 years. Tried every shot available, all made me sick.

    In November 2015, I started on Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Herbal formula from NewLife Clinic, the treatment worked incredibly for my MS condition. I used the NewLife MS Herbal formula for a total time period of 4 months, it totally reversed my Multiple Sclerosis. I had a total decline of all symptoms including vision problems, numbness and others. Sometimes, i totally forget i ever had MS.

    Visit NewLife Clinic web-site ww w. newlifeherbalclinic. com. I am very pleased with this treatment. I eat well, sleep well and exercise regularly. My attitude is extremely positive.


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