By: Thomas M. Phillips

Did I say that? Yes, I did. Now before all of the doctors and therapists call their lawyers remember I have aphasia, so that means I don’t know what I’m doing anyway right? Well, let’s find out…


Yes, of course, I do know it’s not contagious…exactly. If I can’t say it is contagious will you accept “temporary contagious”? No? Well, I’m going to do it anyway and I’m going to tell you why. Those afflicted know and for sure the doctors and therapists know aphasia is an impairment of the ability to use, or comprehend words, and many of those afflicted also have problems using a telephone, create checks, listening on the phone or understanding things when there are too many people talking at the same time.  There are other problems of course, but you have the idea, so now let’s talk about the “temporary contagious” for those that are not afflicted.


What happens when friends, family or anyone else around with someone that has aphasia? What happens when they instantly forget addresses or telephone numbers? It seems others lose the ability to see, listen, hear or even talk. Typically, friends or relatives cannot sit very long, must “simply have to go” somewhere else (anywhere else of course) and if they do stay with us for awhile most of them stand up, sit down, get back up and walk around…waiting until they can leave so they can go back to “normal” and talk to other “normal’ people. Did they get the temporary contagious? As far as I know the answer is yes. It is contagious. I guess it’s technically not contagious, but when “normal” people find we have aphasia they forget how to see (“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there”) or can’t communicate anymore (“I’m too busy, have to go, I can’t talk right now…”) and often times it feels like “normal” people have more problems with communication than those afflicted!


For those few years, when I was trying to bring back my communication systems, I knew I had to talk to people: I knew it, and I felt it was critical that I could listen and talk to other people so that I could begin to speak again. I tried, but of course it never happened. Walk around in a park during the warm months and talk to people that I have known for many years, or stop to a restaurant or even a bar, have a drink and hope someone would talk to me. I did…I tried. Always the same thing, talk to someone I have known for a long time and it would take a few minutes to find that they “had to go…” somewhere. Anywhere of course, and they had to go fast.


So many of my friends or relatives forgot to use the telephone. During the pre-aphasia years they would call just to talk or wanted to talk about something or even needed something, but as soon as I had aphasia I could have gotten rid of my phone because it simply didn’t ring. It took a long time for me to stop checking the phone to see if it worked. It took a long time to accept the fact that I have a communication problem and now others have the same thing…so I must have given it from me! It must be contagious! I felt terrible, knowing that I have a communicate problem and now everyone else has it also. I must have done it and I didn’t even know it!


Unfortunately, it is temporary. They all feel normal again, as long as we are not around us. I know that because the family still have Sunday dinners together and they talk on the phone all the time, and my friends still get together, having a few drinks at the bar or just sit around…taking of course. So I know…they have a communication problem when I’m around so I did it! So please don’t tell me it’s not contagious…I can prove it, and just talk to anyone that has aphasia and they will tell you the same thing.



Thomas M. Phillips

Charlevoix, Michigan