stammerheadshark * blog about living with an acquired neurogenic stammer

It’s a knock-out!

Posted on: October 20, 2009

I’ve literally been blown away by this morning’s events.

After getting in to work this morning, I noticed that my speech was slowing down and there were considerably more repetitions interjecting themselves in front of words I was trying to say.

The next time I opened my mouth to speak the normal stammer had disappeared to present only grunty sounds again. This is exactly what I’d been terrified of happening in advance of my interview this week.

After, well, quite a long while now since my speech disappeared last, I had hoped that perhaps it was simply a healing phase that I’d finally come out of. Unfortunately, that’s clearly not the case.

I felt so angry with myself; of all the times to go, when I needed to be able to speak most my voice fails me. I have an interview back home in Southport on Thursday morning. It’s a job that I’m more than capable of doing, a job that I’d love to do actually, and a job that I need to get given my imminent return home.

While the quality of other candidates is beyond my control, projecting a good impression of myself is my responsibility. Without speech  I would be unable to answer questions, let alone deliver the presentation I’ve had to put together in advance.

Previously when this has happened, my speech therapist has explained that the issue with the speech loss is significantly different from the stammer.

Where my stutter is a result of brain damage to the language centre and apparently defies medical explanation (fascinating to the neurologists I see, and exhausting to me), the loss of speech is due to my vocal chords constricting. This constriction is unresponsive to  relaxation and breathing techniques, even alcohol – which you can’t blame me for trying. Nothing seemed to work.

So my boss told me to go home to try and relax in the hope that it might coax my voice out of hiding. They’ve been amazingly supportive, I’m so grateful to them for their patience. They also suggested I go to the doctors and ask them to prescibe something that might relax my vocal chords.

After dropping my bike off at home, I wandered round the corner to the surgery (remembering to take a notepad with me) and scribbled furiously at the receptionist to explain what had happened and if I could see a doctor as I hadn’t been able to ring for an appointment.

She told me to go through and wait until I was called, and anticipating more of the same I started to write an explanation for the doctor while I waited to save time once he became available to see me.

When he called me through, he’d clearly been briefed and wasn’t surpised when I thrust my scribblings towards him. He seemed to think that the suggestion for a muscle rexalant was a good one and then weighed up the possibilities with me for prescribing tranquilisers, stating that this was an entirely experimental approach for which he had no evidence would work.

So I picked up a prescription for a truckload of Diazepam from the chemist, popped a pill and piled in to bed hoping to be swept away in drug fuelled relaxation. Well, it didn’t happen.

Lying in bed for several hours in the dark whilst waiting for sleep to kick in, I was becoming increasingly annoyed and thinking that it must just be another prescription that I was impervious to. And then there was a knock at the front door.

Bleary eyed and grumpy, I stumbled downstairs to find my boss standing there in the rain with a box of flowers that had been delivered to work for me.

I started babbling away at him excitedly, and then it dawned on me – my voice had returned and the experiment had been successful.

Awestruck, I took the box from him and was told to spend the rest of the day continuing to relax. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I just sat crying with relief.

It seems that in the hours I’d been waiting, expecting an overtly physical effect to the tranquilisers, that my voice had returned and I’d had been unaware as there had been no-one to speak to.

It almost doesn’t matter that the stammer is there after the shock of my voice entirely disappearing. It’s just amazing to be able to speak again.

When I finally moved from the sofa I discovered that the flowers were from one of my clients thanking me for the work I’ve done for them, after they learnt that I am to leave the company shortly.

It’s easy to underestimate people; but on days like this when you discover how uplifting and surprising their actions can be when you need help most, it can leave you completely bowled over.

I’m so grateful.

3 Responses to "It’s a knock-out!"


Just a thought… have you tried talking to yourself? Probably….

Yep! And it doesn’t make any difference unfortunately.

If I can’t speak, then I can’t even speak to myself; if I can, it’s still all stuttery!

I’m just glad it’s back! 🙂

As always Jo, beautiful words from a beautiful person. Please remember those you leave behind in Leicester as we are always contactable by what ever means you find easiest. You do have a huge support network in Southport, but you will always always have a network of friends here in Leicester. Never, never be a stranger.

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