After just writing a post about kicking and screaming, you can imagine how dumbfounded I was when I learned of a woman who had lost her voice for almost thirty years. Okay, I guess it’s true—you could communicate by written word or sign language, yet have you ever thought of what it would be like to not have a voice?
Most times when we think of someone with a sensory disability we immediately assume it has to do with loss of hearing or perhaps blindness. But think how frustrating it would be to lose the ability to use one’s own voice.
Now I know to some, like my Husband or my two sons, they probably would’ve loved for me at some point in my life to have lost my voice. LOL!!! Ah, the thought of no one to argue with, no one to tell my two son’s to get up in the morning, to get ready for school, to brush their teeth, to clean their rooms, to do their homework, to feed the dog. Well you get my point.
But can you imagine that one day after a year of marriage you suddenly lose your voice? You lose the ability to hear yourself speak, to hear yourself sing, to hear your own laughter.
However that is what happened to a woman named Betty Lou Trufant, a resident of Westbrook, Maine in 1982 after contracting a strange virus. It was the virus that had caused her vocal cords to become paralyzed, thus her inability to speak, laugh or sing.
This brings to mind the tragic story of Julie Andrews and how her beautiful ability to sing was affected or more recently country music singer Shania Twain or British soulful songstress Adele.
Think about it. A voice is one instrument you cannot purchase at a music store!
Betty Lou was resigned to live this way for the rest of her life until she watched a segment of the news about a woman in a similar situation who had regained her voice after four months by getting throat massages at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
Encouraged by this news, Betty Lou travelled to the clinic to see if doctors could also find a remedy for her. Once there, she was told that a massage wouldn’t be enough to cure her, but there was an operation that would enable her to speak again and that she could even sing!
The decision was made, and after an hour and twenty minute procedure, she was back to full health able to talk, laugh and sing at full volume for the first time in over 29 years and now has a new lease on life with her voice restored to its former glory!
How might we relate to this? Well as writers we might liken it to being stricken with writer’s block. Like a virus, our writer’s voice suddenly disappears. Some may scoff at this idea saying there is no such thing. But like a virus, our minds can become infected by negative thoughts that can leave us paralyzed if unattended. Yet we can be thankful this is only a temporary condition, for our voices carry.
So what do you think? Many of us may have had at one time or another a form of laryngitis, but could you ever imagine living without a voice or as a writer being paralyzed, not able to put down all your thoughts onto the page? What would you do? Would you allow a disability to inhibit your enjoyment out of life and just give up or would you be able to have the mindset to push forward?
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Thank you for your many thoughts and kind comments everyone!
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Although it’s not the same thing, last year I had a head injury and I couldn’t read or write for two weeks. I could SEE the words, but they would get flipped around and I had to concentrate so hard I would get terrible headaches.
It was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever experienced. Even though I knew I was going to get better (and I did), there was the “What if?” in the back of my mind.
Julie Hedlund recently posted..Books I Read in 2011
Oh wow Julie! How horrible! I can see that you’re okay now. But that must have been a very scary experience. I just can’t believe the comments from this post. It seems everyone has had something similar happen like this post. This is amazing. Well I’m certainly glad you’re back to your sweet self and enjoying life again. Because we need you to write more books! 🙂
So much to think about here, Karen. To your question, I would push on and if there wasn’t a cure, find ways to exist around it. When I’ve had physical laryngitis, like Coleen said, I was lucky to be able to write and hand gesture for communication. For writer’s block, it has been times of me blocking myself or filtering in the noise of others that then blocks me. For both, I’ve found having some mandated “quiet” time to rest (or step away from the WIP) works versus straining.
Thank you Barbara for putting your two cents in when actually it is worth so mcuh more! I love your attitude and persistence! I guess the point that we can take away from this is not to give up! 🙂
I can’t imagine losing my voice. I’ve never had laryngitis. I can’t even consider it without getting nauseous. Yuck. What a thought?
You’ve given me something to think about Lynette – as usual.
Louise Behiel recently posted..WRITING WORKSHOPS: 21 Steps to Fog-Free Writing
Well Louise, it’s good to hear from a healthy person. I don’t recall having laryngitis myself either, but can you imagine? I know Lynette’s a rock star. Who knew she trained dogs? Thanks Louise for dropping by. See ya tomorrow! 🙂
Yes, I’ve thought about what it would be like. I’ve had laryngitis so many times that I’ve taught my dogs hand signals. They do very well with hand signals. I don’t do so well without a voice. I can’t imagine how awesome it would be to have your voice back after so many years – awesome to be able to speak. I _can_ imagine that after such an experience, I’d be testing my voice over and over to make certain it still worked!
Lynette M Burrows recently posted..As the Plot Turns
How true Lynette! Testing, one, two, three! Yes it would be very frustrating! Wow, hand signals to your dogs? They must be very obedient dogs. I’m impressed Lynette. You’re a multi talented lady. Writer and dog trainer, yes? Thank you Lynette for your comment! 🙂
As artists, whether we’re musicians, writers, or painters, our voices (literal or figurative) are core to who we are. Art is expression, and I think it’s scary for artists of any form to imagine not having the ability to express ourselves creatively. But not being able to speak, sing, or laugh would be hard for anyone. Thanks for sharing this story. I’m glad it had a happy ending.
Janelle Madigan recently posted..ROW80 Goals and the ‘Latte Effect’ of Writing
Janelle, not to worry, I’m all over a happy ending! But you have brought out to us some amazing points! Our voice IS at the core of who we are! LOVE that!!!! Thank you soo much for your wonderful thoughts! 🙂
I can’t imagine being disabled in such a tragic way. I love to sing and my kids like when I read to them.
As for the writer’s block… I’ve had my share of mute weeks. I don’t ever want to experience that again.
Angela Orlowski-Peart recently posted..The Music That Inspires Me.
Hey Angela, it’s good to see you! How are you? Can you imagine 29 years? Crazy! Oh, writers block…not funny. Here’s to that never happening again! You’re too good of a writer and we’d miss your voice Angela! Take care girl! 🙂
I once lost my voice for a week and my family loved it but they wouldn’t like me to lose it forever. I’m happy Betty Lou’s story had a happy ending. Like her, if I run into a physical or mental block, I keep exploring options till I find something that will work.
SheilaSeabrook recently posted..ROW80 Round 1 – Checkin 1
LOL Sheila! See, that is why I put that little blurb in about my family. I’m sure they would like to stick a sock in my mouth from time to time, but really, not forever. Well, maybe? But I’m not asking them. LOL And I love your determination Sheila! That’s what makes you a successful person! 🙂
I would hate to lose my voice! Sometimes I do that thing of trying to decide if I would rather be deaf or blind. Stupid, I know. I always end up deciding that I’m glad to have all of my senses. Honestly, I can barely handle laringitis.
Emma Burcart recently posted..Put On a Cleavage Necklace and Smile!
I absolutely don’t think that is stupid Emma! I think it helps to reflect on these things so we will remember to feel grateful for what we have! But I’m with you. It’s hard to stay quiet when you’re force to! LOL! 🙂
That is a great and heartening story, I’m so glad you wrote about it, as I’d never heard it before.
I feel a bit throttled myself, switching to the Dvorak keyboard layout. Typing is so slow, re-learning to touch type! I’m forced to be concise.
Soon enough I’ll be up to speed, I hope!
Now see, you inspire me Julia! Even though because of your great musical talent your hands and fingers have taken a beating, you don’t give up. You’ve found a new way to communicate! I wish you the best andI know that once you get the hang of it, your going to conquer that darn Dvorak keyboard! Keep it up Julia! 🙂
I once had laryngitis that lasted for almost 2 months, but at least I could write! I would not want to lose my ability to communicate!
Very scary to me.
Coleen Patrick recently posted..The Dusty Bookshelf Challenge
Coleen, it would be a nightmare to truly shut up an Irish girl if you know what I mean. LOL!!! Yes, very scary indeed! 🙂
Wow, I can’t even imagine. What an interesting story and how amazing she was able to get her voice back! When I used to teach I’d sometimes get sick and lose my voice for a couple of days. It was frustrating standing in front of a group of students with so much to say and barely being able to whisper. But it would remind me that it is easy to take something as simple as our voice for granted.
Thanks for the great post!
Kara recently posted..Princess Bride And The Marcarena
Thank you so much Kara for expressing your feelings about this. Yes, although it may have been temporary, we all may lose our voice. But can we imagine how relieved Betty Lou was to finally after 29 years to have a voice. To communicate her thoughtsand feelings. To hear herself laugh and sing! What a gift she received! 🙂
My late husband lost his voice after a stroke. He was locked in – complete paralysis and mute. We communicated via eye blinks and an auditory scanning system. Not a pleasant experience.
Stacy S. Jensen recently posted..12 goals for 2012
Wow Stacy, thanks for sharing this. My husband and I know someone who has ALS and the only way he can communicate is my blinking his eyes into a computer and the computer does all the speaking for him. Isn’t that amazing? But what love and patience you had in order to communicate with your husband. And Stacy, that in itself says more than just words. Thank you Stacy! 🙂
Losing my writing voice sounds a lot like losing my entire self, Karen. Thanks for the important reminder… We take so much for granted!
August McLaughlin recently posted..Lifesaving Resolution #1: Mindful Driving
Isn’t it amazing how much is linked to our voices? Whether vocal or in written word. And the frustration of not being able to communicate our thoughts and emotions! We have a lot to be grateful for as you have posted previously August. Thank you! 🙂
I would hate to lose any of my senses, but I would hope that I’m stubborn enough that I wouldn’t just give up. I’m so glad this woman has her voice back! What a gift to receive after so long without it!
As to my writing voice… I did lose it. For much of the past three years, thanks to a mild TBI, and then extreme fatigue from hypothyroidism and a couple of other things. But stubbornness paid off and things are almost back to normal.
What was it like for those three years? Horrible. The stories were there, wanting to be written. Begging to be written, but I’d look at the blank screen in my writing program and…nothing. I couldn’t do it.
But thanks to a strong desire to have my ‘whole’ life back, it’s pretty much back. Also thanks to things like a good nutritional program (now including swamp sludge, lol).
Great post, Karen!
Kristy K. James recently posted..Swamp Sludge On the Rocks, Please
Say it isn’t so Kristy! I would say it was horrible. How frustrating for you. I’m so glad you’ve been able to move forward and break through whatever it was that served as a blockade for your writing! But I have found that extreme fatigue can do that. It takes a lot of energy to create and write. Please let me know how I may be of help to you in your road to nutritional health, okay? I sincerely mean it! 🙂
This reminds me of a friend who had a tumor removed from his thyroid, which is very close to the vocal chords. Like me at the time, he was a lawyer. He was a tough guy, always telling me, “Diane, once a Marine, always a Marine.” But moments before the anesthesiologist put him under, he revealed his anxiety when he told his surgeon, “Doc, I make my living with my voice.” I guess after reading your post, Karen, I’m thinking: who doesn’t?
Diane Capri recently posted..Carly’s Conspiracy: Behind the Book
Hey there Diane! See, we can be as tough as a Marine until something serious affects us and then worry sets in. I guess we’re all normal, huh? 🙂
I love to sing, I can’t imagine never being able to do it again. I’d heard about Adele, but what happened to Shania Twain? Julie Andrews still sounds awesome, even if she doesn’t think she does. Just goes to show how fantastic she was before! I’m really glad this lady got her voice back. So many accept, when the answer to the problem might be close by. In Ohio 😉
Melinda recently posted..Let The Challenge Begin!
Reportedly, Shania Twain lost her ability to sing last May. And because you love to sing you would appreciate how hard it would be to live without your voice! And apparently Jennette Powell is not the only good thing to come out of Ohio. lol Thank you for your comment and support Melinda! 🙂
I used to work with a guy who’d been injured and couldn’t speak. It was weird at first, hearing him whisper everything. But when it really hit me was when I was travelling with him one time and we got separated at the airport – luckily, I saw him waving from across the concourse!
Jennette Marie Powell recently posted..My Town Monday: Americana in Art
That must have been frustrating. Thank you Jennette for sharing that experience! It helps us appreciate what we have. 🙂