“Have we been there in the last week?” I was trying to narrow down the field of choices.
“Have we been there in the last month?”
" In the past six months?”
Oh, great that helped a lot.
“Oriental?” I asked and I got a ‘no’ in return. The same negative response came for pizza, steak, Thai, breakfast, and hamburgers. At this point Don drew the type of food he wanted using his finger in the air.
“No. Yes. No. Yes," he kept repeating. You'd think after all this time I'd learn not to ask more than one question at a time.
“Fine,” I replied. “We’ve got a full tank of gas. I guess we’ll get there before dinner." I was headed for ‘restaurant row’ a place where there are million places to eat within a five mile stretch. Eventually he gestured for me to turn into a shopping mall.
“Pee,” Don said which translates to: “Find me a place around the back where I can use my urinal.”
“Not today,” I said as I turned in. “You’ll have to make an appointment for tomorrow. I have an opening at 4:15.” I always give him a hard time about his ‘pee’ commands and he usually laughs at my tired jokes when I tell him things like he’s reached his quota of pee times for that day or last call for peeing was a half hour ago. Once I told him there is a cork in the glove compartment, "Use it!" Sometimes I even shock myself with what comes out of my mouth. Around the back of the mall, I stopped near a sign post hoping if someone comes along afterward they’ll think the yellow circle in the snow came from a big dog with a bad aim.
I got back on ‘restaurant row’ where eventually Don directed me to turn into the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant. I thought back to the clue he was trying to give me with his finger drawing in the air. Square food? What do they have at a Qdoba's that is square? I finally decided that he’s finger drawing dyslexia and he meant to draw a circle for a taco salad which is what he usually orders. But in reality it’s not unusual for people with aphasia to come up with what I call false clues. In their brains they are searching for the right word or gesture but all they can come up with is a category of similar words, one of which is the word they are trying to communicate. Round, square, triangle---they’re all shapes and ‘square’ was the only word Don’s aphasic brain could express on Saturday when we had lunch in