I currently have a Spanish speaking only patient on my caseload. Communication with speakers of another language is always challenging- even on the occasional day that we have an interpreter available for our session. But, it is especially difficult with this patient. On top of a language barrier, we have a language impairment (called Aphasia).
This patient has a severe swallowing deficit. So bad that he was told he could not eat or drink anything safely by mouth, as everything was going down the wrong way, into the lungs. He has a feeding tube to supply him with all of his nutrition, but it's obviously not the same as eating. And, he is DESPERATE to eat.
We've been working hard. TONS of exercises, electrical stimulation, education, compensatory techniques... you get the point. Even with the language barrier, he is usually able to figure out what I want him to do by immitation. Well, one of our exercises is to use the "K" sound. We repeat it over and over very quickly. This sounds silly, but is designed to improve back of tongue strength and range of motion, which is critical for safe swallowing.
Today, I start saying "K-K-K-K." He sat there blankly staring at me. I motion for him to join me, and I try again, "K-K-K-K." He is now looking very confused and shakes his head "no." I try again. Nothing. What is wrong with this guy?? Does he not understand? Why won't he do this?
Finally, the sweet little 90 year old lady at the next table over said, "Excuse me, but I don't think he needs to sh**."
Guess I learned a new word today. Apparently, the "K-K" sound, or ca-ca, has a differnt meaning in Spanish. Who knew?! I really should have paid more attention in Spanish class...