Thursday, March 8, 2012

Schaumburg man doesn’t let his loss of speech crush his spirit

Schaumburg man doesn’t let his loss of speech crush his spirit

Looking to his wife, Mary Beth, to supply the words, Steve Riedner points to photographs and drawings of what he wants to say. The 63-year-old Schaumburg man suffers from Primary Progressive Aphasia, a dementia that initially attacks the part of the brain that processes language and speech.
Looking to his wife, Mary Beth, to supply the words, Steve Riedner points to photographs and drawings of what he wants to say. The 63-year-old Schaumburg man suffers from Primary Progressive Aphasia, a dementia that initially attacks the part of the brain that processes language and speech.
 
JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer
Using notebooks, photographs and a whiteboard helps Steve Riedner communicate with his wife, Mary Beth. The 63-year-old Schaumburg man suffers from Primary Progressive Aphasia, a dementia that initially attacks the part of the brain that processes language and speech.
Using notebooks, photographs and a whiteboard helps Steve Riedner communicate with his wife, Mary Beth. The 63-year-old Schaumburg man suffers from Primary Progressive Aphasia, a dementia that initially attacks the part of the brain that processes language and speech.
 
JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer
While a rare brain disorder called Primary Progressive Aphasia is robbing Steve Riedner of the ability to say “I love you,” the Schaumburg man still manages to get that message across to Mary Beth, who has been his wife for nearly 39 years and now is also his caretaker.
While a rare brain disorder called Primary Progressive Aphasia is robbing Steve Riedner of the ability to say “I love you,” the Schaumburg man still manages to get that message across to Mary Beth, who has been his wife for nearly 39 years and now is also his caretaker.
 
JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer
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The sight of me standing outside his front door in Schaumburg sends Steve Riedner into one of his belly-shaking, blue eyes-a-twinkling chuckles. He points to the jaunty, herringbone tweed newsboy hat on my head, reaches into his closet and pulls out an identical cap.
The very idea that I’d wear the same hat as Steve — a flag-flying, lifetime NRA member and Vietnam veteran who enthusiastically challenges some of my opinions — gets me to giggling, too. Then Steve puts it into words.
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“Tay dot den den tane net not be de da,” a grinning Steve says, his cadence and expression giving me the impression that he might be meaning to say, “You’ve got the same hat as me now, so you can start following my lead on the important issues.”
Or maybe not, says Mary Beth, a better translator of Steve’s intent based on her almost 39 years of being married to the man.
When we last got together in 2007, Steve had just been diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia, a rare, incurable form of dementia that strikes people as young as in their 40s and destroys the brain’s ability to communicate. Five years ago, he tol....................
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