Lest you think I spend most of my days going from one cupcake and coffee to the next (though I wouldn’t complain if that were the case!), I wanted to give you a little medical update from Monday. In this “defeating deficits” phase, it seems there is much work to be done on my voice. As I have recently had a slew of wonderful speaking engagements, I do feel it’s a very important aspect of my recovery and after the meeting with my vocal cord ENT doctor (here), I was scheduled to get an update on the old palatal lift. What’s a palatal lift, you say? I wouldn’t know either if it weren’t for the fact that one is currently gagging me!
Thankfully, I don’t feel anything on the right side of my face, which includes my eye, mouth, throat, etc. so this special retainer/horseshoe crab-looking device is not nearly as uncomfortable as it would be if I could feel (just look at that flapper on the back!) Anyway, I’ve had this current/”temporary” version for several years now, and basically, it elevates my paralyzed right soft palate to help me speak and swallow (ie. so air/food/liquid doesn’t go out of my nose when I want it to go elsewhere). In just 6 short visits (note the sarcasm), I will have a permanent device that looks like the one on the right! Woohoo! That bad boy looks like it came from “The Terminator”, right?
Trust me, this is not my favorite way to spend the day (that last pic is of me getting the new moldings done of my mouth), and I certainly feel bad that my wonderful husband/driver/medical advocate has to endure the carousel of medical visits (though that legal training always prompts the best questions to my doctors–thanks Jay!) However, I am quickly reminded, one of my most precious gifts has always been my ability to communicate and since my stroke, the ability to tell my story of hope. What is that worth? Well, to me, it is priceless, and it’s certainly worth several visits to the basement of UCLA’s dental school to get my Terminator retainer! Like all things of value, this is one worth fighting for.
Though my voice may never sound like it used to or be as strong as before, I will give it my best shot (as will my dear friends at UCLA–thank you!) and my most fervent prayers, and Lord-willing this new voice will still get the job done.