April 9, 2012


Has it really been that long since I've updated? I'm sorry to keep you in the dark about my progress.

When I had to have the throat surgery, I didn't realize what a hit I would take with that news. It took me a while to realize that I was expecting a constant move upward toward healing, and this was a sudden drop. I was angry too that this could have been avoided.

I had a very brief taste of life with a disability. People were kind and helpful everywhere, without exception, but just about everything that called for discussion was more difficult. When I motioned I could not speak, people universally went mute and started gesturing or writing. Even after I would motion clearly that I could hear, they would nod and continue to gesture or write. I would have laughed out loud if I could have. I used a lot of notes.

My speech therapist recommended a $2.00 app called Speakit! for the iPad, and it was very helpful. I was able to type and have my words spoken by a voice of my choosing. Most of the time it was great; occasionally it mangled a word to something unrecognizable. I was able to store text on the iPad so that I could plan ahead for meetings and long conversations. I was even able to use the app on my iPhone, which was handy in restaurants or close conversations. I highly recommend it. (You can purchase voices for other languages and have them speak for you. Write in English, they speak in whatever language you select. Great for traveling!)

Even so, it was awkward for people to wait while I typed or texted. Often the conversation sped ahead and what I wanted to say became moot. It became easier to remain silent. It sure made me crystallize what I really wanted to say. I became more a spectator and less a participant.

What I missed most was being able to laugh, and I only realized that yesterday when I laughed for the first time. (I'm not allowed to whisper or yell, and my laugh is pretty loud.) I'm allowed ten minutes of speech per hour this week. It feels so good to speak again!

Now that my throat is getting better, the effects of radiation are starting to show. It's not good: some get pink skin, some get a rash; I get red skin and a very angry rash. It really hurts, and I have four more weeks to go. (That's two weeks of radiation and two weeks of delayed reaction.) However, I see this treatment prolonging my life, and four weeks of discomfort is something I can handle. Carefully. I have fashioned a one-cup bra that gives me support and won't rub on the affected area, so I'm very pleased with that.

None of this has stopped me from working, although I continue to rest at home. My colleagues have always been cheerfully supportive and helpful.

Abe continues to wait on me hand and foot. He's been the best husband ever through all of this, and I love him dearly for his patience, strength, and tenderness. He has been an anchor for the whole family, all while working about ten hours a day, six days a week. There is no way I can repay him for all that he does except to love him with all my heart. I'm so lucky to have him at my side.

Cross-posted on CaringBridge.org


Cubby said...

I'm glad your time as a moot mute is over. I wish I could get the people around me to stop talking. Perhaps I'll "pull a Birdie" and tell them I cannot speak so they'll stop speaking too.

Rox said...

Oh Birdie! You're the strongest girl I know! I'm so happy that you're hanging in there and fighting! Here's to many more hearty laughs!

Ur-spo said...

Your journey is commendable.

I see all the time what you describe viz. a handicap makes other people assume and do all sorts of stupid things in reaction to you.