Healing My Voice and My Heart The cashier impatiently asked three times if I wanted the receipt with me or in the bag, never taking her eyes off the register. I pointed to the bag. I was a 26-year-old speech-language pathologist with no effective way to communicate my needs. It affected my daily life and my ... First Person on the Last Page
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First Person on the Last Page  |   February 01, 2010
Healing My Voice and My Heart
Author Notes
  • Pam Ansell, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist providing services to elementary school students in Warren, Mich. Contact her at ansellp@hotmail.com.
    Pam Ansell, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist providing services to elementary school students in Warren, Mich. Contact her at ansellp@hotmail.com.×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / First Person on the Last Page
First Person on the Last Page   |   February 01, 2010
Healing My Voice and My Heart
The ASHA Leader, February 2010, Vol. 15, 39. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.15022010.39
The ASHA Leader, February 2010, Vol. 15, 39. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.15022010.39
The cashier impatiently asked three times if I wanted the receipt with me or in the bag, never taking her eyes off the register. I pointed to the bag. I was a 26-year-old speech-language pathologist with no effective way to communicate my needs. It affected my daily life and my manners.
My journey to the checkout aisle had begun when the doctor told me I had a vocal polyp and red, inflamed vocal folds. He prescribed anti-reflux medication and suggested changes to my diet and lifestyle: no more chocolate, wine, or going to loud, smoky clubs with friends. I also needed speech treatment.
Speech treatment helped me to minimize muscle tension, reduce harsh glottal attacks, decrease volume, and increase pitch range. My voice improved but eventually my last hope for a healthy voice was surgery.
Five days after surgery, I made my first vocalization, repeating “Hi, Dr. Rubin” in a voice that sounded like a munchkin from “The Wizard of Oz.” The next week my limited “talk time” increased to five minutes per hour and I resumed speech treatment. Over the next six weeks, my “talk time” increased gradually.
During my recovery, I communicated with gestures and by writing on a toy magnetic writing board. What I realized, though, was that I never fully expressed myself with my abbreviated messages.
The students I work with also struggle to communicate because of a language or fluency disorder or an articulation impairment. I related to their daily communication struggles. By modifying my listening skills or their environment, I learned to be a better communication partner.
My surgery has helped to heal not only my voice, but also my ears, my words, and my heart, as a clinician and as a human being.
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February 2010
Volume 15, Issue 2