Yesterday I learned sounds are not only what I hear, but what I need to spit out for others to understand me. Without them I will not speak properly. I’m tired of this. My throat hurts chronically. I croak and cough and choke. I have a paralyzed vocal cord and the other not much better. If not repaired through therapy, it’s off to the operating room for me.
It’s ironic, this gravelly voice of mine. From the age of ten I was wrapped in the world of wonder and make-believe. I used to take the lead in plays and musicals. I was told my pitch was, “perfect.” I never needed a microphone! A voice is something we don’t often think about. We are blessed by God, but take it for granted. Until last March when I became sick, it never crossed my mind. Then I woke up to find it gone. But, God had a plan. I started to write again. I found a new ‘voice’ in this body of mine after the other had left… when the other was gone.
Still, my speaking voice needs to be repaired. At my appointment, the good doctor took my small hand. He is a big man. He asked me to read a script while he put it on tape. He played it back. While I listened, he felt I was a bit defeated, daunted at the task at hand. With a white tissue, he brought in tapes of other patients who sounded like me. The “After” sounded much better than the “Before.” My doctor hoped this would bring me, inspiration.
We are a team now, the good doctor and me. I have a way to see. I watched and listened to him move his mouth, shape his lips, look at the vibrations he made and hear him click his tongue to the roof of his mouth. They each have a purpose. A way to get me to where I need to be. Like baby birds learning to sing, I must mimic his sounds and movements to repair my broken ‘wing.’ I’ve learned a new way to breathe, too. Not from my lungs or chest, but from my diaphragm, like singers must do.
My doctor’s success is my success. An hour in his office and two more at home. This will go on for several months unless there is no progress. But, I’m determined, I’ll do my homework, my very best. I want to speak aloud like before. This is no fun, I want it no more! My doctor asked me to,”trust him.” By the end of our session he played a second tape for me. It was my voice reading the same script as the one I did before. My eyes lit up! There was a difference, an improvement could be heard. My voice sounded louder and stronger. I was breathing from my diaphragm. Yes, it’s true!
Afterwards, I stopped for lunch at a Chinese restaurant where I sipped on my favorite yellow, egg-drop soup. It tasted warm and soothing to my weak and strained sore throat. When finished, the young waiter brought me a fortune cookie on a small plastic tray. I pulled the cellophane wrapper apart to crack the cookie open. Inside, my great new fortune was revealed! Reading printed black words on a small strip of thin white paper, I smiled to myself. The waiter poured green tea into my tiny porcelain cup. Like all chronic conditions in my life, I found another lesson here.
Inside the cellophane, the broken cookie’s paper read, “The Simplest Answer is to Act.” Hmmmm, that’s what I’m going to do!