As regular readers of my blog already know, about three years ago, out of the blue, I got an exotic voice problem called spasmodic dysphonia. I couldn’t speak above a whisper for a year. Then one day, while practicing a nursery rhyme with my stepson, my voice suddenly returned to a functional level. Unfortunately, as is typical with spasmodic dysphonia, my voice only worked well in quiet, unstressful environments, and the world is not a quiet or unstressful place. I couldn’t, for example, order a pizza over the telephone and expect the person on the other end to understand me. So for most of the last few years I have been the ghost in the room, listening and smiling, silently cursing my partial existence.
This week I underwent surgery that has a high likelihood of fixing the problem. The top surgeon on the planet for this procedure, Gerald Berke, M.D., at UCLA, opened my neck and rewired the nerve connections to my vocal cords. In three or four months, when the new nerve pathways regenerate, I should be able to speak again, in weak voice at first, and improving over the year.
So I find myself delirious today, for a number of reasons. I’m exhausted, and medicated, and most of all optimistic that the ghost in the room can get one more chance among the living.
Today is a good day.