Nov 18, 2012 - 1:47 am
Sunday November 18, is one year since my vocal cords were removed (a total laryngectomy). I thought I will mark the anniversary by posting some of the things I learned during the year.
The operation and my week-long stay in the ICU was virtually pain free. I think a laryngectomy is harder on the caregiver than the patient. At that time, I had severe cataracts and was legally blind. So I didn't even appreciate how grotesque I looked.
Speech is lost for a short time. The neck is so swollen that none of the methods for alaryngeal speech work well. But speech returns after a month or two. First there are isolated words and short phrases. Then as the year progresses, the speech becomes more normal: or a new normal at least.
There are three main methods to restore speech: esophageal speech, a TEP prosthesis, and the electrolarynx. Some laryngectomees choose to use writing instead of speech. I have met laryngectomees who made an excellent adjustment using each of the four methods of communication. The choice is highly individual.
Finally, I must mention (and I don't want to brag) that since my cancer has not (so far) invaded my mouth, I never had problems with taste, thick saliva, or swallowing. Knock on wood.