Susan says I am making progress: My smile on the paralyzed side is widening. I like her. Because I like her, I am more comfortable with her and thus I can speak better. Isn’t that funny? I have also noticed this with Linda, the fellow patient: her speech, when she speaks to us or to a therapist is very incoherent, irrelevant. But a few times I saw her speak with her husband and she is much much much better. She can bring up more relevant words, more stringing them together… I have noticed that, like stuttering, the more people here feel under stress, the worst their speech. The more they feel at ease, comfortable with the person they chat with the more fluent their speech. Also, the noisier the environment, the more people you add to the conversation, the worst it gets. Everything is better one a one to one conversation, in a quiet room with a trusted person. I believe that before everything else, a therapists, or anybody for that reason, must earn the trust of the person she is helping. When people don’t feel the that constant anxiety with you, then you can let the best come out. Susan lets me speak and speak, on subjects that matter to me. We have a real chat most of the time. She congratulates me when I say three syllable words like “information”. She also takes Ruth and me to field trips to nearby coffee shops and restaurants. We have to order by ourselves. As we are in Michigan, people are not so much accustomed to foreign accents, so our field trips start with some embarrassment: When I give my order from the menu, waiters have to ask again and again. When Ruth gives her order and the waiter repeats it, she doesn’t understand, but says yes to whatever he says; the Marx brothers duo in action. On the vowel front there is no improvement, especially with long vowels like “I”, or “a” “oi”, which involves pronouncing “y”, but I am much better with the sounds: “sh”, “ch” now. From 8:30 until bedtime I have to speak. I become so tired, my jaw muscles ache, my tongue muscles ache, but most of all I’m drained at the end of the day because my brain works overtime, forming new synapses.