Saturday, October 28, 2006

How Scott Adams Got His Groove Back

I like talking.

No. I LOVE to talk.

When I was younger, I was usually very quiet. People couldn't hear me when I spoke. I was pathologically shy.

I wanted to speak louder so people could hear me, at least. I did this by learning how to proJECT that voice. Yup. Now I can throw that sucker two blocks away.

As a young adult, married, I rarely spoke at all. Very serious first-husband issues. HE did the talking.

Several years after the divorce, recovering from the Silence, I started to talk again. To tell my actual own opinions and stuff. I went to college, and since I like to ask questions in class, that helped.

My work, later, involved many hours each day on the telephone. Researching, interviewing, negotiating, what have you. I LOVE to talk on the phone. I'm extremely good at it, and I know it. And I have a very good *telephone voice.* It's quite deep for a woman, and somehow, it's often easier for people to take that over the phone than in person. Go figger.

Since I started to lose my hearing, first from allergies and then from this disseminated HSV (cold sore) germ that got into my auditory nerve, I can't hear myself right any more.

So, like a lot of the hearing-impaired, I often talk too loud now. I'm working hard on stopping that; I really don't like it a bit, don't want to do it.

The thing is, though...

I also tend to lose my voice.

From the extreme allergies came a condition that goes under some different names. On my printout of my medical history and such that I carry around, I just call it *vocal cord dysfunction,* per the first diagnosing doc. *Spasmodic Dysphonia* is one of its more formal names.

My vocal cords twitch open and shut when they aren't supposed to. An allergist, in 1993, saw it with a scope. She was spraying different allergenic stuff around, cleaning chemicals and things, to see if I was a *twitcher* in response to an allergen.


I'm very lucky, because with me it's intermittent. When the allergies aren't bad, my voice may be fine. In general, all things considered, I can live with it. It's not great, but hey. I usually have worse things going on.

When it isn't fine, I know a secret formula that restores its function for around 4 hours at a time. It was passed to me by a friend in Shreveport, who swore he got it from an old black lady bartender down in New Orleans. And it works so very well, I passed the formula to a professional singer in Shreveport, and an actor in San Francisco, each of whom burst into tears when they tried it out and realized they could get themselves talking and singing again.

heh! Proud of that one, I am.

So...on the very worst days, I squeak like someone with laryngitis. On others, I sort of crunch, or lose words. Or just go all whiskey-voice. Often it bounces around between all those types in one sentence, so people look at me strange. The lizards, for some reason, love it.

I don't want to make little the impact it has on one's life. To lose your ability to speak even in part messes up your whole sense of identity, of self, of who you are and how you relate to everyone around you. You can see in the faces of others that they don't respond to you anything at all like they used to do. You are diminished.

Scott Adams, the author of the wonderful comic strip Dilbert, has exactly the same thing. From exactly the same instigator: allergies.

Unlike me, he's been unable to talk for 18 months.

Well, folks - he just got his voice back.

He literally retrained his brain to make the neural connection work again.

I am so happy for that guy, I just cannot stand it.

I learned this through, of all things, the Friday Ark over at the Modulator. Someone put my moth pix in the Invertebrates, how very nice! I clicked around.

A blogger who likes science had a beautiful cat pic entered. I checked out that blog. The neuroscience behind Scott Adams getting his voice back was discussed, and the Dilbert blog linked.

What a fabulous turn of events.


Jean said...

thanks for the links, k ...very cool... and beautiful kitties!

k said...

Oh, such sweethearts!

I find I'm able to look at cat pix again.

And last night, I felt my April and Babycat close by me, both, for the first time since he passed away.

It was wonderful.

Cindi said...

I can relate to what you said about finding your voice after your first marriage only with me I found my laugh. I didn't really realize I hadn't really laughed in such a long time until shortly after my divorce I was visiting with my mother, her girlfriend and another male friend. The conversation was lively and hilarity ensued. I laughed so much. Later when my mother and I were alone and we were talking about the fun visit, I laughed again and then started crying because I realized I hadn't laughed in so long and it felt so good to LAUGH again.

Working at the hospital, I met a patient years ago who was unable to talk. When I met her, she hadn't spoken in 8 years. Nobody knew the reason for it either. She was married, a mother/grandmother and happy otherwise but just no voice. One day about 4 years ago her voice just came back out of the blue. When I saw her one day, she had a grin on her face as she started to talk to me, knowing the reaction I would have. I was so happy for her. I just saw her again a few nights ago (hadn't seen her in a year)and she is still talking okay and I told her that her story of finding her voice was one of the happiest stories I had heard while working there. Sorry to go so long in this post!
Oh! Did I miss it? What is the formula for restoring the voice for up to 4 hours??

k said...

hee hee! There's that curiosity factor again!

Well, since you were good enough to ask...


in a cup of hot water.

The portions are inexact - I usually use about 1/2 t salt and 1 t each of the other ingredients. If my throat is particularly sore, I may use a little more honey.

For some reason, gargling with this potion doesn't do the trick. You really have to drink it. All that salt included. And yes, it tastes just awful.

And if any one ingredient is left out? It just doesn't work.

k said...

Oh! And I had that laugh thing, too.

Except with me, it didn't really come back until several years after the divorce. The Silence lasted a long time. Voice and laugh both.