These past few days I’ve written about my experience with this tonsillectomy, but this morning I thought about what the ENT doc said a few days before I had my surgery. As I was explaining to him how my tonsil had changed form/appearance, he stopped me and said, “You have Spasmodic Dysphonia … see how your words trail off when you speak?” (http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/Pages/spasdysp.aspx). I couldn’t believe he picked up on it— I was relaxed so my voice was pretty good that day.
I was shocked when he said this because he gave a name for what I had been experiencing. I was really relieved too—at least it wasn’t “all in my head.” For so many years I struggled with speaking clearly. Many times I was fine, but it would get worse in certain situations. For example, I would be anxious when taking phone calls because my choppy voice seemed to be more pronounced over the phone. I eventually refrained from taking personal phone calls and just told people to email me instead.
There were a few times when I had to present in front of my class and my voice wouldn’t cooperate—people gave me looks like, “What’s going on?” This made things even worse for me and only a few words would come out at a time because I was nervous, and being aware of the problem seemed to make my throat close up even more.
One time I was asked to write a course in which I would have to speak for hours as they recorded my voice over PowerPoints that I had created. I almost did not accept the assignment because I knew that I would have difficulty speaking, but I kept telling myself that God had allowed this because it was meant to help me in some way.
The first day of recordings (from about 8 am to 5 pm) was rough. I noticed, though, that my voice was “more rough” in the mornings, but as the day went on my voice was more relaxed. By day two and three, I realized that if I “exercised” my voice for about 30 minutes prior to speaking that I would sound “more natural.” I read the Bible aloud for half an hour before speaking and it worked! I only had minor incidents the rest of the week. I would have never known to “exercise” my voice if I had let fear stop me from accepting the job.
During my struggle with speaking, I clung (and still cling to) these Scripture verses from Exodus 4:10-12, “…Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say”” (NLT).
I have found that when God is in something then anything is possible. Despite my condition, I was still able to complete phone interviews (this is much scarier for me than a face-to-face interview because people can’t see my body language/facial expressions—they only have my voice). I have also spoken to large groups.
I will be writing another course in which I will have to complete days of audio recordings. The ENT doctor has said that I can get Botox injections into my voice box which should help temporarily but I’m wondering if this new treatment is from God— will it make me less dependent on Him? I will have to pray and seek His wisdom about it, but for now I will have to recover from my tonsillectomy.
I guess I am writing this for those who have the same struggles. Maybe you don’t have a vocal disorder, but maybe you lack confidence in your abilities. Remember, that everything is possible with God. He makes it possible for us to accomplish all things.