BODY LANGUAGE

I thought it best to try and get Alan as relaxed as possible for a few days before finally taking him to our family doctor.  He recommended a Neurologist, but that in itself was an unnerving experience.  The man made no attempt to put either of us at ease, was very morose; just sat in front of a computer monitor, asking us questions and typing in the answers.  He might have been a brilliant Neurologist but he knew nothing about human nature. Alan was trying to be his usual friendly self, but the Doctor did not make eye contact or have any facial expression, was terribly cold and impersonal.  I don’t think I’d ever thought too much about body language before and how we all interact, in very subtle ways with facial expression, gestures and hand movements. When we left his Office, Alan was extremely upset and pleaded with me never to take him back to “that nasty man”.  Eventually we found another Neurologist and it was the difference between night and day.  Of Indian heritage, with a history of Alzheimers in his family, he greeted Alan and they sat down together chatting  as if they were old friends.  Alan was doing his Benny Hill impression, and the Doctor was gracious enough to laugh at his jokes – just by having this interaction together, he was able to determine the extent of Alan’s illness, and get him to open up far more than the first Doctor.  Alan had always used his sense of humor to get across the most serious of issues, so it wasn’t surprising with such an incredible brain, that he would use his humor to hide his loss of memory, and how scared he was.  Indeed, long before his actual diagnosis, many times I questioned myself; was I missing something because he was able to deflect so well with his sharp wit and incredible sense of humor.  One time I insisted he went to the Doctor because I felt there was something wrong, and when he came back he had Viagra – goodness know’s what he told that Doctor!  That first encounter with the second Neurologist was a life lesson for me, on how I needed to change my behavior, reactions and more importantly body language; so that I wouldn’t exacerbate forthcoming stressful situations with this disease.  Do any of us realize the non verbal clues we give out to others every minute of the day, not just by tone of voice, facial expressions and body language.   On a daily basis, as soon as we meet anyone before speaking, we are assessing them, forming impressions, gaining non verbal clues, it is in our DNA.   Pass anyone on the street, and if you give them a smile, they will reciprocate and you will both feel better.  Not a word has been spoken, but you have touched someone’s soul – that is why social interaction is so important.

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