Impressions


Sometimes you can tell a lot about a person simply by listening to their voice.  Just as eyes are “windows to the soul,” voices can be impressions of the heart.

Visiting a friend in the hospital not long ago, I needed to go to the tenth floor.  Pushing a square glowing button of golden orange with an arrow pointing “UP,” I waited for the elevator.  Shiny doors of silver opened, disappearing into wall spaces on either side allowing me to step in.  Two men huddled near a panel of buttons to the left, chatting like old friends.

Trying to appear occupied, I looked down at a dotted steel floor where I noticed scuff marks of white on navy blue boots.   In my hands, I held a small potted plant.  Waxy green leaves rolled unconsciously between my thumb and forefinger.

The two men seemed to have reconnected after a chance encounter elsewhere in the hospital.  A family lounge?  The cafeteria?  “I still can’t believe it’s you,” one of them said!  “Yeah, it’s been a long time.  Man, its great running into each other,” responded the other, with a pat on the back!

As the elevator lifted up, pitches and tones of the men’s voices took twists and turns within our 5X7 generic space.  Pauses, sigh, sadness and laughter suggested important changes had taken place for each of them.

One of the men had a lilting sound to his voice.  Notes of anticipation that rose higher with each passing floor.  The other sounded resigned yet hopeful.  His voice disguised suffering, I guessed.

Not much time left.  The elevator wall panel told me so.  Glowing buttons highlighted floor numbers soon-to-be.  They hinted farewells were about to take place.

Nervous laughter trickled among the small of our spot.  An air of tension suddenly weighed heavily as we neared the first floor to open.  When doors slid wide a large sign on the back wall read, “Maternity.”  The first man out brushed back his hair nervously to say, “You take care of yourself.”   “Sure will!  Tell your wife, congratulations,” the other man called out.

It was only then that I truly looked at the other man who stood in the corner.  He pushed a lit button with one hand while gripping an IV pole with the other.  Dressed in an oversized hospital gown with very loose jeans, he glanced at me with a slight smile.  Shiny doors closed, silently.  Seconds later, when they opened, I read a different sign.   “Oncology.”

After the man stepped out he turned, whispering familiar words to me.  “Take care of yourself.”  His voice gave me the impression of kindness, sincerity and gentleness.  In time and space of small, my heart had grown large.  He left me feeling like I had known him for most of my years.

 

Teamwork


Yesterday, I went to see my good doctor again at Barnes hospital here in downtown St. Louis.  He is the one I hope will heal my voice.  I wrote not long ago of him after I was first diagnosed with a paralyzed vocal cord in a post entitled, “Sounds.”  This good doctor of mine looked at me yesterday, asking me questions suspiciously.  As I sat high in his vinyl blue examining chair I felt like I might be in Court of Law, on a witness stand.  “Have you done your exercises?” he asked, in a very low, serous tone.  “Yes,” faithfully,” I replied, to the best of my ability.

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Croaked


As the year comes to a close my fingers click white lettered keys on a borrowed black laptop with mixed emotions.  I started my blog this past October as a novel idea, not exactly sure of what I was doing, where I was going or what to expect.  To be blunt, I knew nothing.  Like many other writers I bet.

In the spring of last year on Easter in fact. a respiratory illness befell me.  Most of my body bounced back except for my throat.  I had no voice!  Who would think such a thing?  For months I went to five different doctors and endured every kind of test.  I lost weight.  I couldn’t eat.  I had a sore throat.  Some doctors came up with a “diagnosis.”  I didn’t trust them.  Nothing made sense.  One day I sounded like a “Member of the Mob.”  The next I could have been “Kermit the Frog.”

The ironic thing is that I’ve found a different way to speak.  My new voice became this little blog of mine.  My way to communicate, my way to speak.  If I wouldn’t have gotten sick, perhaps I never would have found this new “voice” of mine?  Surely I wouldn’t  have met all of you out there.

Last month I saw the very best specialist at the very best hospital here in St. Louis.  The doctor had done his homework.  He read thick files of records and examined my swollen throat.  He listened to me croak.   An ultra-sound machine was brought in to look at my vocal cords.  A probe was stuck in my mouth while he asked me to sing.  Poor doctor!  His face lit up like a light bulb all aglow.  He knew….he had an answer for me then!  Paresis.  Simply put, it means that I have one vocal cord paralyzed, while the other is currently “less than perfect.”

How relieved to know what is wrong with me, to have a diagnosis!  Happier still to know that I will get better in the coming new year.  I share this with you because my treatment may impact my writing schedule.  Soon, I will be going to vocal therapy every month.  Doctors will assess my progress to see how it is working or if it is not.  I have “Plan B” followed by “Plan C” which is surgery, keeping that as my last option.

What I find amazing is how God works in such mysterious ways. The Lessons He teaches, the Blessings He leaves.  God gives us obstacles in life, leaving us treasures to discover along the way.  I was not able to speak, yet He gave me a new voice in order to communicate.  I’m writing in a genre new to me, one I never thought possible!  He’s introduced me to friends all around the world.  People I don’t know, yet I’ve come to care so much for them.  I have a new sense of purpose in life because I write words on a screen rather than speak them aloud.

Thank you to my “Readers” for always being with me since the first day I began.  For supporting me, for your prayers, for telling your friends.  I will not let you down, I promise.  My schedule may lighten a bit and I’m not quite sure what to expect.  But, I will be writing here.

Thank you, too, for all of your wonderfully written blogs.  They challenge my mind, help me to cook, inspire me, make me laugh and cry, and bring me closer to God.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul.

I wish for you a Happy, Healthy New Year and the very best of 2014.

Blessings……….

Kermit The Frog