Yesterday, I saw my vocal doctor again, the one at Barnes Hospital in downtown St. Louis, who wears the crisp white lab coat. Directed to a different room this time, I noticed a larger blue vinyl chair. Looking like it reclined a bit, I doubted this. I am at the point in my treatment where it’s time to make a decision.
I’ve been a good patient for the doctor, while the good doctor has been patient with me. He’s guided me though all the necessary steps to strengthen my vocal cords in order to speak. If it isn’t working, I need to go on to “Plan B” or Plan C.” Neither is preferred.
Each and every day I do my “homework.” For the last several weeks I’ve retreated to the farthest room in the house to practice my “sounds.” First there are the “warm-up” exercises, followed by sheets of white paper listing directions including one using a clear plastic straw and a decibel meter. Therein begins the true work-out. No gym, just me.
When the “warm-ups” are finished, I reach for a lonely straw that must be thinking, “No, please…not again?” Still, I do what is prescribed. Next are the vowels. There, I breathe deeply from my diaphragm to push out as hard as I can. Watching the decibel meter rise drives me to work harder. It’s become a game to play. Even with all of the windows and doors closed, the neighbors think our alarm is going off!
This time the good doctor is looking at me a little differently. He asks me questions about my “homework.” I am honest, telling him I sound better, but my voice is not consistent. Next, he points to the machine at my right. Looking like a smaller version of an ultrasound I know he is going to take pictures. Ahhh, it is time to see if there are any changes since December…. Have my vocal cords improved after all of this hard work? Now we shall see. It’s the moment of truth.
My doctor puts the probe in my mouth, asking me to say vowels one at a time. I do my best to get all the way through his commands until I begin to choke. His face is hard to read. Finally he points to the screen. There, even me, a lay person can see the difference.
How far I’ve come! Not only with the paralyzed vocal cord, but the other one too, has improved! They look almost equal now. Both are pink and plump, hardly inflamed. Coming together, they now close like a normal person’s do. I almost jump out of the blue vinyl chair!
The good doctor wearing the crisp white lab coat is not finished with me yet. I have more homework to do, more exercises to practice. Yet, how could I not be motivated? The pictures prove my good doctor’s “prescription” is working. I am so grateful to God, to my good doctor for healing me. Soon, I may “sound” like myself again! This may be a warning to everyone…………