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Life as a larynx cancer survivor and laryngectomee has both its good and its bad moments. Like all things, there is a humorous side - a lighter side, that lends perspective and balance to life in general.
Below are numerous real-life anecdotes, many submitted by members of this support group, that we felt we should share with you and with each other. Some are hilarious, some thigh-slapping funny, some just cute - but all demonstrate there is justifiable humor to be found in all things ... humor and laughter that makes any life worth living.
A long time contributor that has helped WebWhispers keep going and helped it to be what it is today, has taken on a new task. Michael Csapo taught his dog Gypsy to howl. Gypsy actually won a first place prize at the recent annual Pioneer Days Pet Parade and Festival our town. After relaying this to a few folks in their circle, they expressed an interest in seeing what he did so he made a video and posted it on Youtube.
These are presented in reverse numerical order.
I am a computer programmer and created a "type to talk" program with buttons for pre-saved phrases. I put my phone near my computer speaker and use "speaker phone" mode so I can hear. I answer an incoming call with a prerecorded phrase that provides my name and lets the caller know I am using a computer and that they will have to wait for me to type a reply to anything they say.
One person who called me had what I considered an amazingly confused and funny reaction. Instead of just speaking to me, she said "Tell Tom ...", This continued for the whole conversation, her every sentence started with "Tell Tom ....". Not exactly sure what she envisioned was happening on my end but it seems to be her visualization of the computer turning to me with what she said and then speaking my reply as though I could neither hear nor speak!
I never tried to set her straight, seemed like too much typing and I was rather enjoying her confusion.
Tom - June 2011
ON A HUMOROUS NOTE--unbelievable--I accidentally left my electrolarynx in my pocket and it went thru a whole cycle in my front loader. I carefully took it apart as much as I could and poured the water out, dried it gently with the hair dryer, then let it sit in the sun most of the day. Put the same dried out rechargeable battery, that also went thru the wash, back in and it works just fine! The sound is crisper and cleaner after the washing. Ha ha! When I took it apart, I saw a lot of electronic wires and really delicate looking stuff inside. If it needs cleaning in the future, I think I will just use a soft cloth and warm water.
A funny, or not so funny, incident happened last night in a restaurant
(Old Marco Pub and Restaurant, Marco Island, FL). This restaurant has only beer and wine, no hard liquor. After the waiter took our drink order, a beer for me and diet coke for Arthur, our laryngectomy, Arthur got up and stepped into the parking lot to put his hat in the car. Almost simultaneously with Art's return to the table, a man (we think he was Tom, the owner, rushed out from the back of the restaurant and yells at Art, "You can't bring your own alcohol in here". I responded immediately, "We have no Liquor" while Art tried to get the Servox to his mouth. At that moment, the man grabbed the Servox and started a tug of war to get it off of Art, yelling, "That thing of liquor is what I mean." Arthur held onto his Servox and got out the words, "This is how I speak, it is not a booze container. Let it go." I was yelling the same thing and the scene was at a level that dozens of people around us were watching, some even loudly commenting on what this lunatic was doing.
Suddenly with all this happening, "Tom" let go of the servox and ran out of the room just as he had come in. It was over except for the people at the tables looking and commenting how embarrassing this must be to that poor man, which of course made it worse. We left the restaurant.
Upon getting to our condo, I called and asked to speak to the manager and was told he wasn't available. When I described the man at the table I was told he is the manager/owner. The story didn't have a happy ending. We did not get dinner and no powers that be will step forward to spank this idiot for his reckless horrible behavior. The best we can do is tell all who are reading this not to go there to eat..... and don't wear your Servox if you do or you, too, might be physically attacked for having liquor hanging around your neck!
Linda and Arthur Jacobs (lary since 2002)
141. Another question from a non-lary with answer from a lary:
Q—Well, can't you plug that hole so you can go swimming?
A—Yeah, I can plug the hole, but I'd be a floater, not a swimmer!
140. Questions from non-larys with answers from larys:
Q—(looking at my new air-hole) Will it heal over soon?
A—I rather hope not as I breathe through it.
Q—When will you be able to speak normally?
A—Never, again, as my voice box is gone.
Q—What if you hadn't had it done?
A—I would most likely be dead.
Q—Will you die after this?
A—Probably, certainly not before.
Q—What if you get water in it?
A—I cough like hell or I drown. In which case, hang me up by my feet until the water drains out.
Q—How long before you can breathe through your nose?
Q—I could not do all that.
A—It's either do it or push up daises, your choice.
Q—Will it get better?
A—This is better, it's as good as it gets.
and believe it or not
Q—Has it affected you in other ways, ie, up top or down below?
A—1 My brain cell may be lonely but it is still functioning just fine
—2 While the days of night and morning are long gone the answer is yes . . . .fine thank you, it was only my throat that was operated on.
And finally - on the way into the operating theatre a nurse told me that I could only have the normal hospital gown on and would have to remove my underwear.
I looked at her and asked, "Which end are you starting from?"
Well at least it got a laugh...
139. For the past 8 years or more, I have been going down to "Gasoline Alley", as I call it after the famous comic strip. It is an auto repair shop my neighbor/friend runs, where the guys at the garage never treated me any differently, after my laryngectomy. I use a Servox to talk and keep up with the best of them.
Last week, we were all talking, laughing and poking fun at each other, nothing mean spirited, just clean joking around but there is a guy that has a quick temper, hits first, and asks questions later. I have not lost my sense of humor and made a remark that had the guys laughing, all but the quick tempered gent. He got right in my face and was ready to swing but I looked back at him, pointing to my Servox, and said, "It's these batteries that are talking. Not me!" He was so shocked his eyes grew large; then, shaking his head, he smiled. Humor will save the day!
138. I was cashing a few checks, had them all signed with my bank number on them, when the young girl teller asked if I wanted cash. I nodded yes. She then asked if I had an account at this bank. I nodded yes, and she asked me if I lived in this town. I nodded yes, and she then asked if the cat got my tongue? I started to laugh; when I finally was able, I replied. "No, cancer got my voice box." This poor girl wanted to crawl into a ball and die. She was so sorry but I couldn't stop laughing.
137. Here is a situation which brought me closer to esophageal speech. I was hitchhiking through Tennessee back in the middle 90's. Outside Chattanooga, a trucker stopped to pick me up and asked where I was headed. At the time my Servox batteries had gone dead and I was resigned to writing notes on my journey northward. So I wrote "Illinois". And he said, "Just great! I stop to pick up someone to keep me awake, and you can't even talk!" So about every 5 minutes I'd clap my hands. It worked until we got to Nashville, where I got out and found some electricity for the night. The rest of the trip was much better.
Bill Larson, Class of 1987
136. A fellow Lary was an avid boater as I was. He stopped using his boat for some time and then he said "That's enough" and started using it again for fishing, which he loved to do. He took a fellow Lary out fishing one day on his 22ft Wellcraft and went to the ramp to float his boat in. The ramp master saw them both and said to them that they could not go out in the boat with those holes in their necks. "IT’S NOT SAFE FOR YOU TWO! You may drown."
My friend told him, "We can not leave them in the car so will have to take the holes with us.
135. I accidently pushed my TE Prosthesis into my esophagus where it was promptly swallowed. I was told by my ENT, "not to worry", that it would pass in time. I was so concerned with what might happen prior to it passing that "I was afraid to pass gas for fear of not knowing what It would say!"
I have been told before that I have talked out of my bottom but THIS was a real possibility!
Life is great, take the slow train to enjoy the view. :-0
134. About a month ago, my wife, who sleeps sitting up, lost her stud earring while sleeping. So, she went in a few days ago for her routine chest xray and the doctor was amazed to find her stud earring in her lung. Luckily, the doctor got it out at the hospital with little problem. It had fallen down her stoma during that night. She does wear a stoma cover but somehow the earring had found it's way under it. My advice is, "Do not wear your stud earrings to bed!". Bea & Popo Richardson
133. I belong to a veterans group of ex-submariners. We have a large monument at the Las Vegas local veterans cemetery that commemorates a submarine and it's crew that was lost in WWII. When one of our members passes they go on what we submariners refer to as "Eternal Patrol". Our group decided that we wanted to have stone pavers implanted in the ground in front of the monument that would list these men & we attempted to get volunteers to arrange for this to be done. Those of you that are veterans know what it is like to ask for volunteers - like pulling teeth - so I and another man, a WWII veteran, volunteered. When the engraved pavers were placed, we both were there. A couple came by and commented to us that it was a terrrific idea and "Don't you men think they are beautiful"? I replied with my EL and the other volunteer said, "Thank you. I wondered what they looked like." He is legally blind. It figures that the only two volunteers were a man who can't speak normally & a blind man. Go figure. Randy Lemster
131. & 132. Two hospital stories:
I was waking up and this wonderful nurse told me to cough as hard as I could as she gave me a tissue. I covered my mouth and coughed. Guess my look of horror when I saw another nurse move very quickly and something flying across the room. My nurse then said, patiently, that I would have to learn to cover my stoma, not my mouth.
Later, during my stay at a local hospital, I had a nurse checking my neck as I had a skin graft. She wanted to know if I had done this to myself or if someone had cut my neck. I told her someone else did and she asked who would do this to another person? I said a surgeon to remove cancer. She and I are now friends, her name is Mary. (Callie)
130. I was leaving Costco (a big box store) on Friday. As I passed through the doors, an older lady asked me for the time. Not being able to speak (I'm a TEP user and both hands were full of packages) I shot the cuff of my jacket exposing my watch, and held it toward her face. She said. "I'm sorry, but I'm legally blind". After I finished my laughing fit, I put my stuff down and gave her the time. Throw in three clowns and a small dog and you would have had a scene from a Fellini movie. (John Lubelski)
129. My daughter was only 4 years old when I had my laryngectomy. When I started to do anti-tobacco work speaking to school children 6 months later, I dragged her with me all over the state. She never complained. She knows the key points of my speech so well after 6 1/2 years that she could probably give it for me. She's now 11 and all attitude. Recently I was invited to go to a very small school in a little bitty town. My daughter loved it and wanted to go play, but I made her stay with me and sit at the side of the stage. To say she was put out would be an understatement. She sat there with arms crossed and a "if looks coud kill" glare at me. So as I got the the part of my story about "... thinking that the surgery was all I needed to cure me, they sent me to the radiologist and I found out I had a long way to go." As I told the kids "...the radiologist shook his head and said this is bad." and I asked "What's bad?" and he goes on to tell me that with the advanced stage of my cancer that I had maybe 5 years to live at the most. Well before I could go on to tell the children that I was almost 7 years post-op, my daughter pops up and says to the whole auditorium, as loud as possible, "Yeah, and she's past her expiration date!" At first there was a shocked silence, then everyone turned to look at me and burst out laughing when they saw me sit down on the floor of the stage crying from laughing so hard. (Cathy Danielson)
128. I went home one night and was listening to the voice mail and came across a message I couldn't understand and knew it was someone that was a lary. I listened a couple of times and only could make out one word, "Jack", which is my husband's name. He came in and I said listen to this message, I can't understand it. He calmly said, "That is the message you left for me today." OOPS!! (Patsy Armstrong)
127. My wife and I went to the movies last night with another couple who are close friends. I turned down the volume on my artificial larynx so as not to disturb others seated close by. During the movie, I occasionally leaned over and, with my AL held to my neck, would converse briefly with my wife. After the exceptionally emotional and touching movie had ended, a middle aged lady sitting one row above and behind us tapped my shoulder and proceeded to inform me that every time my head turned I had "farted" and she did not appreciate it. I and my wife were so startled that we did not realize my low toned AL was the culprit. I guess that lady has undoubtedly shared her "worst movie experience yet" with her friends. (William R. Rector)
126. Webmaster's sample: How NOT to write a message to the Group:
"Webbys i reelly agree with the prvious massage my eexperyence in this areea is extensife and i reely now what i am taking about believeme i am not stupit my degree was in this feld so please follo the hints that Marcie gave everone they are very tru and 11o precent for shure they have wurked for me in the passed and kan wurk az weel four yu too thes are probly the most acurate suggessions that have ben made on this sight to date Ferd"
So - You might want to proof read & spell check your Emails!
125. This one may have topped all of my past personal "lary laffer" experiences. Sally and I were driving home from the IAL convention in Anaheim. After spending a delightful day in Aspen, CO., we continued on to our destination in Denver. We took the scenic route -- is there any other kind in that part of our lovely country? When we arrived to the top of Independence Pass (elevation 12,000+ feet above sea level) we got out of our car to stretch and take in the sights. We walked a few hundred yards to a spot that overlooked beautiful snow capped mountains and lush valleys. It was mostly uphill to this spot, and we both got a bit winded. There were about seven other people gathered there. One man had a pair of binoculars and noticed some Elk milling around and lying down on the side of one of the mountains. He passed his binoculars around so that we could all see the them.
A lady said hello to Sally and me as we walked past her. Because it was so gorgeous up there, I said to Sally "why don't you ask that lady to take a picture of us." Sally did and we all went down to a point where the backdrop was fantastic for a picture. We posed and the lady snapped a couple of pictures of us.
What occurred next seemed to happen in slow motion, if you can picture it that way. We all started to walk toward one another and as we neared each other, I held out my hand to receive the camera. The lady very slowly and carefully laid the camera in the palm of my upturned right hand. As she did this, I placed my Servox to my neck with my left hand and said "thank you." Startled, she said "Oh, it talks too!" I quickly told her it was me that said "thank you -- not the camera!" Sally and I burst into laughter. She was embarrassed and kept apologizing. We kept telling her it was not a problem at all, but it was hard to keep from laughing. We felt sorry for her as we thanked her again. She and her daughter started walking back toward the parking lot. Some of the others saw what happened and were also amused.
Sally said that this nice lady will probably relate this event to her friends and tell them how badly she felt, while on the other hand, we will tell our friends and share it with WW and get enjoyment from it. (Herb Simon)
124. I received a phone call the other night and naturally (or un-naturally, depending on the ear of the beholder!), I answered in my best lary (Servox) voice! The caller, one of those intrusive solicitors, asked to speak to the woman of the house. I told the caller there was no woman of this house . . . (Sally, my wife was listening over the speaker phone). The solicitor then asked to speak to the person who is head of the household. I told the caller there are no 'human beings' living here -- only us 'Robots'. The caller thanked me very politely and said to have a wonderful evening! (Herb Simon)
123. Upon awakening in the ICU after the handiwork of my surgeon's skills in the removal of whatever so that I had now joined the ranks of us "Larys": From my bed I got the first glimpse of the "hole" (in a nearby mirror) which I now address as "Mr.Stoma." I've been blessed with the gift of a quick wit, so I pulled this one out of my brain ... or what's left of it. As a nurse passed by I motioned her with the curved index finger wiggled in and out, which may be the universal sign language for "C'mere," to which she responded - as I added the other sign language motion by circling my right hand while pretending to hold a pencil. It worked ... she brought me paper and pen. This is what she read, "Miss, I think the surgeon goofed, it appears to me he transplanted my anal cavity to my throat." And another incident of note. I was visiting a friend in the hospital. Her attending nurse looked somewhat puzzled as I placed my thumb over on my stoma filter to speak. I thought I would diminish her anxiety somewhat by showing her my bracelet indicating "Neck Breather." With a warm knowing smile she said, "Where is it? Can I get it for you"? (Sid Miller)
122. Ellen's thermos story reminded me of a funny incident that happened shortly after I began using my Servox. I have a colon replacement of my esophagus so I have forgone a TEP (or in my case a TCP) for the time being. Anyway my wife and I were invited to a bring a friend to party that was designed to provide a opportunity to bring a single friend, so they could meet other single friends (The wisdom of such a party can be discussed later). We were supposed to wear name tags to identify whether we were married or single. Of course with my Servox swinging away on my neck my name tag came off. This party was in the evening, so it was starting to get dark. I was exiting the house to the back yard when a young lady came up to me, and said I love your handy flashlight. I grabbed the Servox, and for effect brought it up slowly and said "thank you". The look on her face was precious. She probably thinks I have a talking flashlight. One other common joke I make about my Servox that my SLP loves is that I tell people that when I can afford it I will get a AL that speaks French (Or insert language of choice). (Walt Crosby)
121. I went out, today, grocery shopping with my husband...the first time in a month. I do have a new TEP so I wore my Servox around my neck as a back up (I'm not yet completely weaned). Two little boys heard me talking with the Servox and started following me around and the mother didn't seem to mind...I guess I made a good baby-sitter. Then I was checking out and the clerk saw my Servox and smiled and asked if it was a mini Thermos. I said, with my TEP voice, "Yes, and the top button is for hot and the bottom for cold." What a day! Enjoy yours! (Ellen Heyniger)
120. I have always had a good sense of humor and didn't lose it when I had my total laryngectomy in March of 2003. I had a partial laryngectomy in November of 2002 and had become good friends with the nursing staff at UAB. When they took me to the room following my total laryngectomy one of the nurses, my nurse from the previous operation, asked me how I felt. I motioned for a pen and paper and wrote her a note. It said " I'm speechless". (Terry Moon)
119. I had a funny thing to happen yesterday afternoon. I have a new (factory rebuilt) GPS in my plane and I was out practicing with it yesterday afternoon. I was shooting some landings, which involves one hand on the yoke, the other alternating from the throttle to the trim to the flaps. The hand on yoke activates the "push to talk" button on the yoke for talking on the radio. My airport is non-towered airport, meaning everyone is to be alert, and watch out for everyone else. It is also a fairly busy airport, we have a number of students, a sky diving operation, an occasional hot air balloon, and sometimes a glider or two. We also have several who just like to fly and are up and around. All in all, a typical general aviation airport. Anyhow, back to yesterday, I had just turned from downwind to base, had a small cough, and felt something lightly drop into my lap. My hands-free device had popped out!! It did not stop in my lap, but went on to the floor. I completed the landing with an extra task for my right thumb - occluding to talk. I am glad to know I can do it without the hands-free, if I have to. I hope it is one of those things that doesn't ever happen again. I am really glad it happened in Cullman, instead of while I was shooting a landing in to a really busy place like Chicago or Atlanta. I can just imaging what an Air Traffic Controller would say if I told him to stand-by while I fixed my "artificial vocal cords". (Philip Clemmons)
118. I thought that Speeding Tickets were a thing of the past after my surgery in Nov.2002, until two weeks ago while traveling on Hwy 77 in South Texas, a Policeman pulled me over for speeding. I got my best "Poor me, I can't speak very well, I'm a Cancer Survivor" look on my face, and when he said "Could I please see your Drivers License", I heard that voice and really wanted to cry. Yep, he was a Lary too. I am now $162.00 lighter.
(Jim Stringer in Houston)
117. I was sitting on my sofa, with my Servox on the coffee table, having my coffee this a.m. when suddenly I heard a dull, heavy static-like noise. The sudden sound, in what had been total silence, startled my dog... he barked, which sent my cat flying for cover....afraid of the unknown. It made the noise again and I realized that it was the Servox!!!!! The second time, it made sort of a groan, like the battery was dying. Has this happened to anyone else? Do I own the only hands-free Servox? (Ellen Heyniger)
(Ellen learned from the list that moisture can cause this rare problem)
116. After arguing (using an AL) on the phone yesterday with one of those prolific telemarketers, I finally hung up the phone somewhat still angry because I could not get my point across to them. I told Lisa (My better half) that arguing with those people is just a waste of breath. She quickly corrected me by stating: "You mean arguing with them is a waste of batteries, don't you?" (Michael Csapo)
115. When I first got my Servox the speech therapist at the hospital helped me with it. They used a oral adapter so I could talk because I was so swollen. After about a week, they had me try to hold the Servox under my chin, but it would not work. When I came home I would keep trying but nothing would happen. Well, a guy from the laryngectomee club came out to our house and gave me some things. We talked and he asked if I had a electronic larynx. I told him I did and tried to talk to him with the oral adapter. He asked if I could talk without it. I said I tried but it doesn't work and showed him. He laughed, and said you need to pull the cap off of the top. I did and it worked. (Lloyd Anduha)
114. The little boy who lives next door (two years old) was imitating me at dinner time. His parents said he put a square piece of cheese against his neck with his thumb and said he was talking just like Bruce. Quite observant I thought. And very very funny. (Bruce MacKinnon)
113. Once a week I am on call for emergency service at my apartment complex. When I first started back doing this, my telephone abilities were lacking and my wife would help by talking to the tenants as a courtesy. One time, I kept trying to respond to a tenant and when I spoke, he hung up. So my wife called him and he gave her a hard time about being told the repair was not an emergency. I took the phone and he would not respond to me. Then my wife took it back and he argued with her. Then I tried again and so on and so forth. My wife asked him why he wouldn't talk to me and he exclaimed, "You are making me talk to a computer and I'm going to call the office.
The next day I went up to the apartment to do the repair and no one was home. So I left a note that the work was done by "The Computer". A week later I got sent to the same place for a different problem. This time they were home and asked through the door who it was. I simply replied, "The computer is here from maintenance". I really loved their expression that day. (Franklin Owens)
112. My wife and I recently traveled from Detroit to Knoxville. Because I have a pacemaker, I have to be searched as I would otherwise set off the metal detector. Using my TEP prosthesis, I advised security that I had a pacemaker and needed an individual screening. The security officer searched me and talked to me while doing so. I responded to him by placing my thumb on top of the foam pad that was covering my stoma. He seemed puzzled as to what I was doing.
He then asked "what are you hiding under your thumb?" So, I lifted the foam cover to let him see my stoma and enjoyed the shocked look on his face, I then explained to him that I was a lary and this is how we can talk. I'm sure he and his buddies had an interesting discussion about me during their coffee break.(Syd Gartenberg)
111. Below are some of the more hilarious questions asked of laryngectomees when folks hear our new "voices" or see our "stoma." These have been contributed by numerous members:
- When are the doctors going to close the hole up?
- What do you put in there when you swim?
- Is that where you put your food now when you eat?
- Is that where you talk out of now?
- Can you still pick your nose?
- Are you a robot?
- Will your voice box grow back?
- If you don't use your nose any more, what are you going to do with it?
- Oh, I'm sorry I made you talk!
- Don't despair - Jesus loves you.
- I can hear and understand you perfectly. And you are apparently not dead, so you must be breathing. You speak and you breathe, I don't see where the disability is. I am afraid that I am going to now have to require four physician statements and a statement from a rehabilitation counselor before I can even begin to consider your request for reassignment of duties.
- Maybe you should learn sign language?
- Is that where you drink your beer now?
- Mom, Mom, with that hole in your neck, do you think you should eat broccoli?
- I became almost hysterical when my neighbor wanted me to go swimming with her and thought I could just put a cork in there to plug the hole while I swam! She said "Just breathe through your nose!"
- My God, what happened to YOU? Did you get shot in the neck in a drive-by shooting or something?
- Oh .. OK, I understand. I guess that means you can't EAT anything either, right?"
- Well, I'm sorry I stared ... I just had never seen anyone talk through their thumb before ... is that where your microphone is located?
- Does your neck get sore if you talk too much?
- I still think the funniest question we have all gotten is : You are in your room immediately after the surgery...you need help...you push the button for the nurse...then you hear "Can I help you?" over the loudspeaker. So you keep pushing the call button....and you keep hearing "Can I help You?"
- When my daughter was in first grade, one of her friends asked me if they cut my head off and then sewed it back on.
- I've had at least two men say to me "I bet your husband's glad" meaning he doesn't have to listen to me talk.
110. I am a recent lary in my early sixties. One day, shortly after my surgery, my wife and I were in a restaurant speaking to one of her friends. An attractive young woman kept looking at me using my Servox and finally got up the nerve and approached me. She apologized for intruding and told me that she had heard about this method of speech but had never actually seen anyone use an electro-larynx. I explained to her why I was using it and let her try speaking with it. She thanked me and left. I looked at my wife and her friend and said, "This is an interesting way to pick up girls". Everyone laughed. (Syd Gartenberg)
109. I heard this story at a Laryngectomee Support Group Meeting in Spartanburg, SC. Robert, a laryngectomee in his late 70's, told me he had been discussing the fact that he sometimes had difficulty changing his prosthesis with a fellow laryngectomee. She suggested some KY Jelly might make insertion easier and more comfortable. Robert was later searching around the pharmacy department of his local Walmart, when a young woman approached him and asked him if he needed help finding something. Robert replied "Yes, I need some of that stuff that makes things go in and out easier, but is not poisonous if you get it in your throat." A few seconds later, she returned and handed Robert a tube of KY Jelly and in true Southern Style, patted him on the back and said, "Bless your little heart." Robert couldn't understand why she was "blessing his little heart" until after he read the back of the tube. He was very proud that she thought he was "still active" and made a point of letting everyone see what he had on his way to the check-out counter. (Tammy Wigginton)
108. One night Gene came home from work and announced he had coughed out this prosthesis that morning. He didn't have anything with him to keep the puncture open, and was worried that it had started to close. I am the one who puts his prosthesis in, so I tried and tried, but it just wouldn't go. We finally called his OTO doc, Dr. D, who was on call and at his lake place about six miles from where we live. Since meeting at his office would mean a 25 mile drive for all of us, Dr. D asked where he could meet us and I answered, "Casey's", a local convenience store, complete with gas pumps ....... Dr. D said he would meet us there in ten minutes. True to his word, Dr. D met us out in front of Casey's wearing his shorts, shirt and sandals. He worked on getting Gene's prosthesis in while he stood next to the car and Gene sat reclined in the driver's seat. Dr. D had a heck of a time getting it in, and you could see that people wondered just what the two of them were doing. We have laughed with Dr. D many times about his "housecall"! Julie and Gene Helle, email@example.com
107. Eleven days after my surgery all medications stopped except for an antibiotic given intravenously. The IV needle in my wrist started to leak, so the nurse changed it, on the tape she wrote the date 11/23. Two days later when the night nurse came to take a blood sample for my sugar level, I asked her (for intended purposes "ask" is writing a note), "What is this date?" She looked at it and said, "Oh that's 11/23". I said. "I know that it's 11/23 but what does it represent?" "Oh", she said, "that's the date the IV comes out." "Really", I said, "well today is 11/26." "I know." she said and walked out of the room. (Dominick T. Farruggio)
106. We were entertaining out of town guests when I received a phone call the other day and was greeted with that long pause that I often hear (or don't hear)! I said hello a second time to reassure the caller that they weren't hearing an answering machine. Then I spoke again and here's how the conversation went from there:
Me - "Well, you called me"
Caller - "Is there a human being there, I could speak to?"
Me - "Yes, there are several human beings here. What is the name of the one you'd like to speak to?"
Caller - "Herb Simon"
Me - "This is Herb Simon speaking and I AM a human being. What can I do for you?"
Needless to say, we all had a big laugh when I got off the phone!!! (Herb Simon)
105. So there I am, lying on the gurney, waiting for my procedure. And for the umpteenth time I reminded them I am a laryngectomee. It made them nervous enough that they sent for someone from respiratory.
"Respiratory" is bustling around mumbling to herself and I hear her say, "The trach collar will take care of directing the oxygen down his "trach" and then I'll have to rig up something else to get the oxygen up his nose." She says to me, "For some reason your doctor wants oxygen directed down your trach in addition to your nose, but I'll figure it out in a minute."
I tried to tell her to forget the nose but her voice is drowning out my Servox. Finally, I just point the Servox at her and push the button without stopping. One of the other nurses says, "I think he's trying to tell you something."
In the blessed silence that followed I said, "I AM A NECK BREATHER. MY NOSE IS NOTHING BUT AN ORNAMENT. I NEED ALL THE OXYGEN IN MY STOMA"
It worked. Which proves once again, the first thing you have to do is get their attention.
104. At a laryngectomee support group, a member raised his hand.
"Yes?" asked the chair.
"Are we still on Old Business?"
"Yes," replied the chair.
"Well. I would like to report that I am still growing old"
103. On a recent visit to a local state park for a cookout and some bass fishing, we had a particular "spot" all planned for our day at the park but, much to our dismay, the parking area near our spot was full and blocked off by the rangers. Not looking forward to lugging a cooler, bags of food, and fishing gear any further than we had to on a hot day, I decided to ask one of the rangers at the barricade if I could unload here and then park in the other lot. So I rolled down the window and in my best Servox voice I asked. He immediately ran to the other ranger, removed the barricade and said, "Let him in, he can't talk!"
Now I know how to get the premium parking spots. We laughed all the way to the lake.
102. Having just become confident enough to use my Servox in public, I was in the waiting room for radiation yesterday when three new patients appeared. Feeling a little cocky with my newfound voice, I introduced myself to each, "Hi, I'm Roger" , etc. I was so proud of my new talker. When I left to get my treatment, two of them stood up and said, "Nice to meet you, Ralph." Oh, well!?! (Roger Scharmen)
101. When I had my first biopsy, back when I still had my natural voice, I wasn't supposed to speak for a day or so. I ran into a builder/investor that I used to market and sell homes for. He was obviously glad to see me. When I wrote him a note to say that I was glad to see him, and that I was writing because I'd had a biopsy that morning, he immediately took the pen and legal pad from my hand and wrote me a note. I took it back and with a large smile on my face wrote a message back to him asking if he'd also had a biopsy that morning, and if not, I went on to explain that a biopsy wasn't contagious and he could go ahead and talk normally, but I would still be writing down my answers. We both laughed and he spoke normally after that!
100. From the June issue of the IAL News, 1956:
"The Detroit Cancer Center, which is the headquarters of the IAL and of the speech school of the ACS Southeastern Michigan Division, also houses a very busy cancer detection clinic. Recently, the switchboard operator received a call from a woman who asked when a patient could come into the center. Since this is a fairly common inquiry for the detection clinic, she connected the call with the nurse in charge. The caller asked if she could bring the patient in that very afternoon, whereupon the nurse told her that would be out of the question, since certain preparations were necessary, such as taking a dose of castor oil the evening before and an enema on the day of the visit.
The caller seemed puzzled and asked the nurse to repeat this. "That's funny," she said after the second explanation, "my husband is a laryngectomee. I want to bring him to the speech school, but I never thought he's have to take castor oil and an enema to learn how to speak again." The nurse gasped, "I'm sorry," and promptly transferred the call to the speech class.
99. Now, for a story that just took place a couple of hours ago. My friend and I went to Denny's to have brunch. Next to our table was a young couple with a little boy about 5-6 years old. I noticed him watching me. Then he got up and went over to his dad and I knew they were talking about me. A couple of minutes later the little boy and his dad approached my table and the dad told me his son was very interested in the way I was talking and wanted to know if I would mind showing him how it was done. I showed the boy my Servox and then showed him how it worked. I even let him try and talk with it. While we were eating the boy kept looking at me and smiling real big. When they left the boy came over and thanked me for showing him and gave me a kiss goodbye. Folks, in my opinion, it don't get much better than that. God Bless. (Amy Jo Kiger)
98. I was trying to reach a Salesperson of a national Real Estate firm. I was speaking with an EL. When I asked to speak with a Broker a very rude voice told me that I was talking just like a machine. I replied that they were talking just like a human being and perhaps we were both wrong. The Broker never did return my call. I am now dealing with another firm. (Pat Smith)
97. (This may not be a Laffer, but it sure puts a smile on your face.) After all the wonderful people Jan and I have met since I was diagnosed, I have come to the conclusion at least one member of every household should have a laryngectomy and this world would be a better place to live. (Roger Scharmen)
96. Last month was the first anniversary of my laryngectomy. My surgeon admitted me into the hospital for an "in and out" procedure, he wanted to look deep into my lungs, go down my esophagus and possibly take some biopsies just to make sure the big C was not in evidence. I had the shot and was basically in "lala" land when they rolled me into the exam room. I had a sheet pulled up around my neck so the OR nurse did not see my stoma. She placed the oxygen mask over my nose and mouth and I immediately started to move it over my stoma. She yelled, "Don't touch that, I have to give you oxygen." I then occluded my stoma and told her I might as well roll over and she could put it on my butt since I would get just as much oxygen there. Needless to say the entire OR gang was really roaring!!!!!!!!
I had to have a re-puncture recently and as soon as they rolled me into the OR this little nurse said, "Mr. Gillette, roll over and pull up your gown and I will hook you up to your oxygen". Same nurse and she had not forgotten. Then, she told the rest of the OR staff what had happened last year when they scoped my throat and lungs. A good laugh is like a warm ray of sunshine. There are moments as a lary that can be very entertaining! (Ron Gillette)
95. This past winter, my hubby, Aaron, and I (he is the laryngectomee, by the way) were busy loading groceries in the early morning crisp cold and snow at our local grocery store here in C. Springs. As we were loading our SUV (yes, we do own one of those things), an old friend of mine (not yet acquainted with my hubby) popped up out of nowhere and started chatting with us. Well, not really with US ... mostly with me. We chatted for 5-10 minutes, exchanged new phone numbers, and Aaron made perhaps two to three comments during the conversation (he uses the hands-free valve to speak and speaks WELL and uses an unobtrusive stoma cover).
As we parted, Aaron went to the driver's side to get in, leaving me with my old friend on the passenger side. As he got into the car, my friend leaned over and whispered to me, "How does he DO that?" "Do what", I asked. "Well", she says, "did you not see it?" "See what?", I replied. "Well", she continued, "I may be crazy, but OUR breath made "puffies" from our mouths. His, though, did not ... in fact, it looked like his "puffies" were coming out of his jacket!!"
I laughed and said calmly, "Aaron is a laryngectomee". She replied, "I didn't notice he was an amputee ... what part of his body is he missing? And, how does that explain "puffies" coming out of his jacket?" I again laughed and said, "I'll call you later and explain everything. It is too complicated to go into now."
I did call her later and explained everything. She was SO embarrassed. We now get together often as families as we are now neighbors ... but she still blushes at her "mistake". I imagine that we "laryngectomee families" do not SEE some things that our "normal" friends do. Who would have thought!!
94. A new laryngectomee wrote in and asked what the "limitations" and "restrictions" were going to be as one of us. I wrote back :
Here are some "restrictions" on, or "disadvantages" of becoming a laryngectomee:
(1) you can no longer snore. It is now impossible. So if your bed partner (human or otherwise) is lulled to sleep and reassured by your snoring, they will just have to adjust to this new quiet you.
(2) you cannot choke on food any more. The "Heimlich Maneuver" is useless on us. So if a loved one has taken the course on that, it is wasted knowledge for you, as was learning mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. So you both will just need to learn mouth-to-stoma rescue breathing instead.
(3) if you run over a skunk with your car, the odds are that you will not be able to smell it.
(4) if you used to tell the seasons of the year by bouts of allergic reactions to pollen, leaf mold, etc., you will probably just have to get yourself a calendar since we are less likely to have these problems since we no longer breathe through our mouths and noses.
(5) if you count each year on bolstering your immune system by coming down with whatever respiratory illnesses or other airborne diseases are making the rounds, you will probably be disappointed because you are less likely to get them (same reason as #4).
(6) you may drive your significant other battty because you can kiss them without coming up for air (and they may get tickled by the feel of your breath on their neck while doing it and giggle...thereby destroying the mood).
(7) instead of having one way to speak, you may get confused by having two or more methods available.
(8) if you enjoy speaking quickly and without much thought, you may be bothered since many of us need to take a second to find our artificial larynges or occlude our stomas before we can say something. As a consequence, we may also find that we are spending more time listening to others rather than talking.
(9) if you are a man, you might have to give up wearing those tight neckties you love wearing around your neck since you will need access to your stoma.
(10) if you enjoy amusing others, chocolate milk or other beverage can no longer come out your nose when someone says something funny while you are drinking.
(11) you may find yourself a member of another organization and have a whole new set of friends.
93. As I was leaving the hospital where I volunteer, they were telling me how cold it was outside. It reminded me of one day last week when I was going to the store and it was equally as cold. As I got out of the car I noticed how the breath of the people looked coming out of their mouths and noses. I thought, oh dear, mine will not look like that. As I pulled the scarf a little tighter around my neck I thought they will probably think my clothes are on fire or something! Anyway I told them what I was thinking and they got a good laugh. (Lois Downey)
92. Even after explaining my situation to a nurse who wanted to look in my throat, when I opened my mouth, she asked me to stick out my tongue and say "aaaah", so I promptly stuck my tongue out and depressed one of the buttons on my Servox. You should have seen the look of bewilderment I got! (Herb Simon)
91. Maybe a huge laugh. A couple of days ago, I was at theatre returning costumes from the last show and I interrupted a meeting about the area on the grounds of the Stetson U. and the float for the Mardi Gras celebration in our town (DeLand, Florida). The area on the grounds was for face painting and costume makeup. One of the women who belongs to the Kwere (I'm not a member, can't afford it) said that they were going to buy Star Wars costumes (Darth Vader) with masks that has an attachment to alter the voice. Oops, everyone looked at me. And I said, "I don't need a mask to change my voice. Since they all know me, we all laughed and laughed. Am I afraid to be with "normal" speaking people....Not ME. (Judy Ramboldt)
90. I went to Walmart one time and was looking in the garden section for plants. A worker came up to me and asked if he could help me. I had my hands in my pockets and, since I speak with a TEP, did not have a Servox. As I was trying to get my hand out of my pocket to talk he yelled at me, " CAN I HELP YOU?" I got my hand out of my pocket then and yelled back at him, "I CAN TALK. IT IS JUST HARD WITHOUT MY HANDS. I AM NOT HARD OF HEARING." He had a stunned look on his face until I started to laugh, then he did also and said he was sorry. Told him not to worry but I wanted 10% off all I bought, and started to laugh again. I did get a lot of help that day and do every day I now go into Walmart. A little laughter goes a long way. (Annonymous)
89. About two and a half months after surgery, with no teeth in my mouth and taking radiation, I went into a store and was doing some shopping. The urge hit me and I found a clerk to ask where the bathroom was. I wrote this nice note asking her where it was. My neck was too sore to use my TruTone. She took my piece of paper and wrote me directions to the bathroom. I took the paper back and wrote her another note. In it, I thanked her for the directions and told her that I wasn't deaf, and only dumb some of the time. (Patty)
88. While at my job as a service station manager/auto technician, I was trying desperately to get all the work out and customers notified by closing time. With all the last minute calls to be made and with time running out I found myself doing a very unusual thing. I had the Servox to my ear and the cordless phone at my stoma! I couldn't do anything but LAUGH!!!!
87. Egad! I pushed the envelope (whatever that means)! I stepped right to the edge. I challenged death and spit in its face. Maybe I'd better start at the beginning. You see, for the last 36 days I've had this tube stuck in my belly. It's is used for feeding purposes. Five times a day, I open a can of vanilla tasting goop, mix it with a little water, and inject it into the tube. The doctor tells me that I cannot even begin to think about swallowing anything until I receive an esophagram and he knows whether I am "leaking" or not. In fact, when he allowed me to go home from the hospital, he made me promise that I wouldn't attempt it. I agreed. And that brings us to the present crisis.
Now, the doctor did say that I could rinse my mouth out with grape juice or something as long as I didn't swallow. This has been doing alright, but yesterday I came across the demon, crushed pineapple. I opened the fridge and there it was.
I stared at it for a few minutes then made the almost fatal mistake. I removed it from the fridge, brought it over to the sink, picked up a spoon and shoved it into my mouth. Just a couple of chews and spit it out. Nobody would ever know. It would never be missed. And then it happened. Somehow, seemingly of its own accord, the pineapple began to move to the rear of my mouth. I could feel the automatic swallow mechanism take over and I was within a second of committing suicide. With an almost inhuman effort, I stopped the swallow reflex and managed to spit out the demon pineapple.
So I live to see another day. When I realized I had beaten the odds, a calmness came over me. I picked up my newly acquired Servox, stuck the stick in my mouth, articulated perfectly, and advised my daughter, "Some people skydive for thrills. I chew crushed pineapple."
"Wha'd he say?" asked my other daughter.
"I think he has to go to the bathroom", she replied.
86. Several months after surgery I was going to see the doctor, my daughter and I were on a crowded elevator, I was talking with my Servox and all of a sudden I hear this little voice, "mama, mama, I hear a robot." He was very disappointed when he saw me. (Jewell Fuller)
85. While visiting me in the hospital my granddaughter told her mother "Granny has two belly buttons". My daughter looked at my stoma, which was not covered and said you are right!
84. I went down to see my daughter, in Lakewood, CA seven months after my surgery. It was my first major trip. My daughter and family were gone and my husband was in the shower. I was cleaning my stoma. I have a stoma button which I wear all the time. I had my lighted mirror in front of me and I was using a Q-tip to clean the inside of the button. I was twirling the Q-tip between my fingers to wind the mucus around the head of the Q-tip. At the same time I inhaled and watched the Q-tip disappear down my stoma. I quickly bent over to keep the Q-tip from going any farther down than possible. I ran bent over in and got my husband out of the shower. Of course I couldn't talk to him and tell him what was wrong. He could tell by the expression on my face and the fact that I was pointing wildly at my stoma, that something was terribly wrong. I ran back to my chair and my mirror, all the while staying bent over. I took in air easy and coughed hard. All of a sudden the head of the Q-tip appeared and I grabbed it with a long fake nail that I had put on the day before. I wish I had, had a camera and could have taken a picture of my husbands face as I pulled that Q-tip out of my stoma. It is funny now but it wasn't then. The angels were sitting on my shoulder that day. So now when cleaning my button I hold my breath. My ENT said I was extremely lucky. She said she has had to go after Q-tips surgically. (Patty Jones)
83. I've been a lary for 5 years now (remember, we celebrated at the IAL convention), and this has never happened to me until yesterday at the local Publix. I stopped at the fish market area. An older gentleman was trying to help the gal in front of me who was really being a pain. The worker looked like he was new at the job. Anyway, after finishing her order, the woman walked away. He turned to me and said, "I finish her order when she comes back. What can I do for you?" I told him in my EL voice that I would like a pound of Talipia. He looked surprised when I spoke but started to fill my order. He went to the scales and turned to me. Raising his voice to a near shout, he told me the weight while using his fingers to indicate the exact weight. I said "Thank you" and went about my shopping. I guess we who cannot talk "normally" are also deaf. Bill asked if I said anything to him and I said "No. He was being harassed enough". But I giggled all the way through the store. Now, excuse me, I have to look for my ear trumpet. (Judy Ramboldt)
82. I have one for your funny side. The first way I spoke after surgery is the electrolarynx. My five year old grandson was so excited when he heard it. He lives in California and was always begging his mother to call me so he could talk to grandma. No one quite knew the fascination he had for always calling grandma until his mom heard him talking to his friends. He was very proudly telling them he had his own grandma robot and he could talk to her any time. When I gave up the electrolarynx, he was SO disappointed. (Patty Jones)
81. I have something I think is hilarious to share with you about my experience with the voice built into the denture (UltraVoice). This would even be funnier, I think, if I had a full denture instead of just a few back teeth. I placed both the handheld unit and the oral unit on one charger facing each other, and I kept them in an unused upstairs bedroom. One evening I went upstairs and heard music coming from the room. I went in and nearly collapsed in laughter. There were my teeth on the dresser playing music. I called my husband upstairs to see this as I knew without seeing it one would have a hard time believing it. He also went into a laughing fit. I mean you haven't lived until you have singing teeth! I called the company I purchased this from and they said I must live near a radio station, which I do. There was no solution other than I stay out of range of a radio station. The radio station is two miles from my home, so it was either move or sing. (Etta Novitsky)
80. My husband and I were on a walk today and we ran into one of our neighbors who was sitting on his porch trying to cool off. He is also a victim of throat cancer and uses a Servox. We had a long conversation, since we haven't seen each other since last fall, while my husband waited. When we parted with good wishes for good health and promises to get together, I said to my husband that we must have sounded like a swarm of bees with both of us talking with electronic voices. He assured me that we did not............it was more like a flock of Canadian geese flying overhead! (Ellen Heyniger)
79. One February evening in 1994 around midnight, after working a double shift at the police precinct station, I dragged my tired body home. That daunting task was exacerbated by a two week, sub-zero freeze of everything, to include several inches of snow and ice that been around. The roads were coated with ice seemingly forever, and a 3 mile ride home was about 1/2 hour in duration. Upon my arrival home, I realized my trusty Servox was MIA. Well, how does one make a phone call to inquire if it is where you last thought it was? So, back on the road to the precinct. Cannot find it anywhere. Okay, out to the ice encrusted parking lot. Eureka! There in the middle of the driveway, under a pile of slush, was my aluminum friend. None the worse for wear considering it was cold, wet and apparently had been run over at least once in the hour or so it took me to locate it. After getting it home and cleaning it out, I was a new man. It was an awful feeling to "lose" your voice, yet again, as well as a $700 investment. Looking back, it was amusing, but not then. (Scott Bachman)
78. Our youngest, Sue, came home from college for a visit. Dave has the habit of when he comes inside to cough, sneeze, etc, he lays his valve down, but then can't find it. She said he gives a whole new meaning to "losing his voice". (Judy Greiwe)
77. My grandson now talks to me with his finger over his throat. He sounds hoarse and says now he can talk like me. (Jane Brown)
76. After my surgery, back on my feet and itching to get back to work. I went to the local unemployment office. While getting out of the car, I dropped my Servox. It bounced on the concrete and promptly rolled under the car, up against the curb. Not reachable. I tend to pride myself in being able to come up with solutions to problems-- one of those think on your feet type of gal. I remembered that my husband had been fishing and I could just bet that he hadn't taken his fishing equipment out of the trunk and to my satisfaction I was right. He had this nice treble hook on one pole and I promptly took it out of the trunk, went fishin' under the car and retrieved my Servox. I went on into the office to see about a job and the gal at the desk was having her laugh of the day--she said she had been watching and couldn't think what on earth I was doing with the fishing pole under the car. (Pam Ridgeway)
75. My nickname, among some of my friends is WHALE. I think I consider this a compliment. I have researched whales for many years. In Hawaii, Alaska and here in Puget Sound. The joke that evolved with my friends in Hawaii is this:
A whale breathes through a blowhole.
I now have a blowhole
A whale makes sound by an exchange of air and vibrating soft tissue.
That is the way I now make sound.
A whale controls sound and communicates by changing the shape of tube.
I can change the shape of the tube and change the sound.
A whale is gentle and accepts it's lot in life.
Need I say more!
One that I'm not too sure I like, a whale keeps warm by a layer of blubber.
I'll not admit to that, yet.
74. G'day from Oz. For those of you having difficulty occluding with your thumb - my speechie has a guaranteed solution. Place offending thumb on flat surface, strike smartly with hammer, thumb will spread sufficiently to cover stoma - no problem! (Carol Turnbull)
73. I was at a business supper in DC two or three years ago, it was well into the evening and my tie was at half mast. I had done lots of talking that a day - a normal day - and my glue on my handsfree was beginning to break down. When that happens I hold a finger against the flange to maintain the seal when I talk. It was a crowded restaurant, and quite noisy so I was using more back pressure to speak louder. All of a sudden the valve blew out and bounced twice on the table. I caught it mid-air after the second bounce, occluded with my thumb, and said, "That's a helluva of parlor trick, isn't? If I could just figure out how to do when I want to I could have a lot of fun with it." The three of us laughed, and continued on with our meeting.
72. This morning my sister and brother-in-law were coming over to help us on the remodeling of my kitchen so I woke up early and raced to clean the bathroom (necessary, right gals). I was busy cleaning the house, including making the bed (A useless feat if company is not coming. But my sister is a neatnic...ugh.) When my husband, Bill, returned from getting a hair cut and a few groceries, I reached for my Servox which I usually keep in my right hand pocket of my jeans. Oh, my goodness, it was not there. I take my Servox with me to bed and keep it in the top drawer of the night stand but it wasn't there either. We then began a frantic search for it. I even put a battery in one of my loaner closet units so I could talk. We upended cushions, looked behind furniture, even stopped the dishwasher in case it might had fallen in there when I started it. I ended up standing in the living room, close to tears, and trying to remember what I had done this morning. I walked into the bedroom and unmade the bed. There that little sucker was ...under Bill's pillow. I think making a bed every morning is not the greatest household chore for me to do. (JudyRamboldt)
71. After doing some shopping at Wal-Mart this afternoon I returned to my car in the parking lot. The car parked next to mine belonged to a lady I have know for a long time but not seen in ages. She was standing next to her car and turned to ask me how I was doing. Barely being able to speak a few words I said: I am doing fine thank you.. She looked at me and said, "OH, MY GOD, YOU HAVE TERRIBLE LARYNGITIS - take good care of yourself" and then she drove off. (Alma Fredrick)
70. Monday I was going to a very important meeting at Canon USA. I was almost there when I realized I had forgotten my VOICE so had to go back to retrieve it. How many people can go into a meeting late and say "I'm sorry for being late to the meeting, but on my way here I realized I had left my voice at home"!!!! (Carole Matson)
69. Like some of you, I, too, have left my voice at home but I found it helped me with my esophageal speech. I have been taking classes for a few months now and I was amazed how clear and loud the phrase" Son of a Bitc#" was. My therapist would have been proud.
68. I'm a TEP speaker and invariably after a few hours without talking I'll pick up the phone and when the other end says hello realize that my hands-free valve or my prosthesis is full of mucous. STRUCK DUMB, DUMBSTRUCK or just plain DUMB. (Carl Strand)
67. I have a story about taking a bath, the first time I took a relaxing bath, after my surgery, was when we moved to our new home after getting married in 1998. We have a beautiful bedroom/bath combination with a huge, mirrored garden tub - I couldn't wait to get everything in place, unpacked, put up, so I could try out that beautiful tub, with my favorite aromatherapy bubble bath and a tub full of very warm snugly water. I slid myself down into what was the most comforting feeling I had had in weeks (with all the moving etc.). Well, to make a long story short, I totally forgot I was a laryngectomee, slid down in the water clear to my chin, and nearly drowned myself! Thank heavens my husband was home and heard me. He came running in there, got me out of the tub and stood me on my head, and I spent the rest of the blasted night coughing my lungs out! So much for the beautiful, mirrored, garden tub. I take showers now, with a carefully placed shower guard around my neck. (Marlene Snider)
66. I was a widow 13 years before my laryngectomy surgery. After getting out of the hospital from losing my vocal cords and everything else due to cancer, I was off work recuperating for 3 months and apprehensive about returning to work and how my fellow employees would respond to me. The first day back not many tried to talk to me, but one brave fellow said "Wow, Marlene, you should have no problem getting a man now, every man's dream, a woman that can't talk!" My reply was, "A MAN? Good grief, I just got cancer, I don't need a man on top of it!" This broke the ice, and now every one talks to me and treats me like nothing ever happened. A true story. (Marlene E. Snider)
65. I was diagnosed as having developed three more tumors, two small and one larger which involves the carotid arch and which, in the opinion of two specialist, could be operated on but with no chance of getting it all. Needless to say I have had enough surgery, radiation, and I had decided that there would be no Chemo for me. That fateful day was January 4th. I took a few days to let it all sink in and then told all of my family members. I sort of drug my feet about telling my neighbors, and tried to figure out how best to do it. I sure didn't want to call them in one at a time, so I decided that I would have them in after church Sunday.
They all filed in about 1:00 to 1:15 and I was rather upset to see my neighbor's granddaughter, about 6, with them, but I decided that I would use more "clinical" terms so I wouldn't upset the child. She is my little gardening buddy who always shows up "to help" when I am picking strawberries.
I don't remember all my words, but I started out that I accepted God's decree, and went on to explain that I was Terminal and had 6 to 10 months more or less. I suddenly noticed the child get up and move to the living room window and peep out. Of course there was discussion and pledges to help and prayers. As I served coffee and cake I noticed again that the little girl kept going to the window. Her grandmother saw that I was watching and suddenly burst out "Debbie, what on earth are you doing?" Debbie looked rather surprised, and piped up "Well, if Barbara is a terminal, I was just waiting for the bus." Even though it was slow at first, my roomful of friends, relatives, and I burst into laughter. So, here I am, "WAITING FOR THE BUS." (Barb Wine)
64. I am reminded of an incident which happened to me about 12 months ago when I was wearing a small flesh coloured foam cover. On my way home from work one night, I decided to stop off at the local pub for a few pints and a go at the crossword. So, I go in and get myself settled, a pint in one hand and a pen in the other and am quite happy until I get the feeling that I am being watched. When I look up I can see a man not far away drinking and smoking and obviously staring at my filter! It's not the first time this has happened, so I try to keep my head buried in the crossword in the hope that his curiosity will fade. The next thing I know is up he gets and starts stumbling his way towards me. I get ready for the usual "What have you done to your neck" question. Up he comes to my table and says "Excuse me mate, I hope you don't mind me asking but is that a nicotine patch on your throat - I am thinking of trying them myself and wondered if they are any good?" When I had stopped laughing I explained what the filter was there for and that although it was not a nicotine patch it had certainly made me pack up smoking. I have never seen him since but like to think that I encouraged him to pack in smoking, too, and saved him the expense of the patches.
63. I volunteer at a local hospital and for a while was working in their day-care with 4 and 5 year olds. We first thought that being a laryngectomee and using a Servox might be a problem for the kids, but---not so! One child was misbehaving and annoying the others. I asked him several times to stop but to no avail when it occurred to me that maybe he couldn't understand what I was saying. Finally, I asked, "Dallas, can you hear me all right?" Quickly he answered, "No, Ellen. I think you need to change your battery." (Ellen Heyniger)
62. This is one of the best yet: recently a member of our club was in Texas and needed to see a physician who sent her to the hospital for pulmonary function testing. Here is a quote from a letter she sent to our Club President; "one of the tests was breathing through my mouth into a machine & as the nurse was explaining to me- I looked at her & said, "I'm a total neck breather." "Oh," she said & out the door - came back in and asked me if I could tolerate her closing my stoma & forcing me to breathe thru my mouth." HELLO, IS ANYBODY HOME IN THERE? (Jerry Newman)
61. Something you rarely hear at a lary support meeting : "That's easy for you to say!"
60. I was a disability claims representative for the Social Security Administration and a great deal of my job was face to face interviewing of the public. One afternoon about three months after getting my Servox, I was called to the front desk to assist a woman who was having difficulty with her monthly benefit check. When I realized that I had left my EL back at my desk, I decided to continue the interview anyway. You see , the woman was deaf and read lips. Didn't matter that I made no sound when speaking. I was able to answer her questions and solve her problem. (Jerry Lowe)
59. I was recently in for my monthly exam. My doctor of seven years stuck his dentist's mirror in my mouth to look down my esophagus and few seconds later asked me to breathe to unfog the thing. I said, "Oh?!" (Duncan Bruce III)
58. When I was learning esophageal speech, I was at a friend's house, she has a business and her office is in her home. She had paged a friend and when the phone rang, asked me to answer it, because she knew it was him. It wasn't. The lady told me to drink hot cinnamon tea and I would feel better. I thanked her and gave the phone to my friend. The lady then told my friend that she was mean to make me work when I must feel so terrible. We were laughing so hard, it took her awhile to explain to the lady that I was a laryngectomee and that was the way I always sounded. In fact I was thinking how great I must sound if I sounded like I only had a cold. It was a wonderful day for me. When I finally met the lady a few months later, she apologized again. She could not understand how her "mistake" could make me feel so good.
57. I have a step grandson for the past year now, he is 3. He has always been very interested in my stoma, always inspects it to make sure it is ok. Well, they had not been in for awhile and he started talking to his parents with his finger to his throat. That weekend he went to his Memas house and was talking to her with his finger to his throat. He told her that he wanted her to talk like Grandma. So, she put her finger to her throat and spoke. He said, "You're not doing it right, that's not how Grandma does it." We all got a big kick out of it and figured he wanted to see his grandma. (Pat Armstrong)
56. In the “old habits die hard” department, when I am out of breath from climbing some stairs or other reason I still find myself opening my mouth wide for that extra gulp of air. I then just laugh at myself once again. Old habits do die hard. (David Blevins)
55. On Saturday, August 20th my wife and I were invited to a very posh New York City wedding. The ceremony took place at 3:00 PM at Saint Patrick's Cathedral. Many of the guests had limos waiting outside to take them to the Park Plaza. I told my wife its only 10 blocks we can walk it. We did, she in high heels. We got to the Plaza and met our friends who were drinking wine, $9.50 per glass, and vodka drinks, $12.00 glass. My wife complained her feet hurt and was not going to walk another 10 blocks to the Tavern on the Green (reception). When we got outside again we had no limo, so i hired a horse and carriage to take us to the reception (very romantic and it made up for high heel trek) at the Tavern on the Green the live reception band was great and most of us danced the evening away. At one point the band was playing "Rolling on the River" (Tina Turner version) - I was dancing away and mouthing the words to the song ("left a good job in the city, workin for the man both night and day blah blah blah"). Well, the bands lead singer saw me singing (mouthing) the words and stuck her microphone in my face and we proceeded to sing it as a duet. I didn't have time to tell her I use a very quiet esophageal voice or show her my stoma (which I'm sure would have given her a heart attack) luckily the hall was so loud that only my friends could tell the duet looked good, but was really a solo (so low nobody could hear me.). My wife and all her nurse friends laughed like hyenas. The band singer gave me a hug. (Robert Herbst, Jr.)
54. I have an Swiss/Italian board member in our Conference of European Laryngectomees and he came with the following story. He is a very good esophageal speaker but decided to get himself an electro-larynx in case of emergency. He got one and took it home. His wife was in the kitchen and did not hear him come in. He took out his device and said "helloo" with it. The next thing he saw was the coffee pot in thousand pieces on the floor and the cat was hanging in the curtains. (Marianne Peereboom)
53. Joe, a laryngectomee, was flying with his wife enroute to a long awaited vacation. The plane ran into some turbulence and the "fasten your seat belts" light came on. Several minutes later all the little oxygen masks dropped down from the ceiling. Joe very calmly took his mask and placed it around his neck so that cup covered his stoma. Being a TEP speaker he was now unable to occlude his stoma to speak. The flight attendant came up to Joe and said," Sir, you have to place it over your mouth and nose not around your neck." Joe's wife, speaking through her mask said, "That's alright miss. He's a laryngectomee." After a long pause the flight attendant said, "I don't care what his religion is - he has to put it over his face like everyone else." (Jack Henslee)
52. When changing planes in Atlanta after the Christmas holidays, an airline agent met arriving passengers and was providing us with the gate numbers for connecting flights. Anticipating this while still on the plane and knowing my hands would be full with carry-on baggage and my electro-larynx out of reach, I had written my hometown in large block letters on my ticket envelope. It was sticking out of my jacket pocket with the printed hometown in plain view. The agent asked, "what city?" I pointed to the ticket with one of my hands which was holding a carry-on bag. She looked at the ticket, but asked again, "what city?" I repeated pointing at the ticket. She paused, obviously thinking. She then proceeded to give me my gate number in SIGN LANGUAGE! Interesting how many people link the loss of voice with being hearing-impaired, but I WAS impressed that this airline agent knew sign language! (David Blevins)
51. A couple of days before Halloween I was expecting a friend to drop by, so when I heard the knock on my door I opened it right up. I forgot that my stoma was uncovered. A young man, who had obviously knocked on the wrong door, took one look at my neck, grabbed his own with one hand, developed a sudden interest in carefully examining the tops of his shoes, and took several quick steps backwards as he gestured frantically with his other hand towards the neighbor's door. I then realized that my stoma was uncovered. I was sorry to have scared him, but the look on his face told me that I might never again need a Halloween costume! (David Blevins)
50. I have used Montgomery Wards for many years, pre and post laryngetomy surgery. I have come to know several of the Staff very well, and a Head Cashier particularly well. In recent months I have been leaving the electro-larynx at home while attempting to learn esophageal speech. Last week I visited the store for the first time in a long time and was greeted by Julie, the Head Cashier, with a big hug. We chatted for a few minutes then, suddenly, she grabbed my shoulders and exclaimed "Frank, honey, YOUR VOICE IS GROWING BACK!!!!!"
49. I was cooking some Chili a while back and diced up a huge onion to go in it. I wasn't expecting company but the knock on the door was an old ladyfriend from High School whom I hadn't seen since my surgery. Of course I had to say hello and doing so I put my finger to the stoma without thinking - the onion juice was still on my finger so you can figure the result. She said, "The chili smells good and the onion even better." She gave me a hug and said, "You must have been eating the onion raw!" That's is the only time I think I've ever said Thank You to a woman who said my breath smelled like onion! Of course, she got a kick out my explanation of why the strong odor! (Scotty Chandler)
48. I was playing with and holding my granddaughter in my arms when she was about 2 and someone said something and I turned to look away and she poked her finger in my stoma (under a foam cover). She could talk pretty well and wanted to see if she could make me talk and make me sound like I did by putting HER finger there. She was used to playing with the Servox, so I guess she figured that little white thing (TEP) was a button just like the other on the Servox. (Scotty Chandler)
47. While at the gym the other night, my "certified trainer" came up to me, noticed my stoma and then seriously asked, "So, Peter, do you tape that up when you go in the swimming pool?" (Peter McCole)
46. Soon after returning to work and recuperating from a total laryngectomy, I was performing a little routine maintenance on my stoma and prosthesis. At this point, I was very much a rookie. That fact was readily apparent as I was attempting to perform this little delicate operation while seated at my desk and holding a mirror in one hand and small cotton swab in the other. The key word here is small. The swab was a Q-Tip or the generic equivalent. These are fine products, but this was neither their intended purpose nor the proper orifice. During the course of the procedure, I touched some tissue that was never supposed to be touched and that produced a fairly violent and involuntary cough. I’m sure that we have all done that. Following the cough, there was the obligatory and equally strong, involuntary inhalation and you guessed it – the swab was gone. No – It was not on the floor, desk or anywhere else. It was in me. No one had ever discussed this possibility let alone suggested any effective remedy. After allowing myself to experience the requisite panic, I reasoned that if a cough caused the problem, then just maybe a cough could get me out of this mess. I took a very slow deep breath and coughed as hard as I could. Something flew out. Unfortunately our office is configured in Dilbert cubicle style and this flying object left my little designated work area. Fortunately, there in the middle of a co-workers desk was a beautiful sight – the offending swab. My father always told me that we learn life’s best lessons from the stupid things we do and this little episode certainly fits that characterization. You may certainly choose to disregard any or all the tips and helpful hints published on this web site, but hear this. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER PLACE ANYTHING SMALL ENOUGH TO FIT IN YOUR TRACHEA NEAR YOUR STOMA – IT WILL FIND ITS WAY IN THERE!!!!! (Marvin Whitley)
45. While speaking English using my electro-larynx with a telephone operator, she was having a problem understanding me so she said she would connect me with someone who could help me. She then connected me with a Spanish speaking operator. Spanish is not my second language! (Pat Smith)
44. We were camping in Chechie and there was a little five year old Dutch boy who followed me from the moment we arrived. He looked at my stoma cover but never asked anything. One morning, he came, stood in front of me, looked up at me and said, "You had cancer, eh?" I said, "Yes, but how do you know that?" He replied, "I asked my Mom but she told me not to tell you that you had it." (Marianne Peereboom-Kooijman)
43. During a family dinner with my parents, brothers and sister and the in-laws, I had a piece of meat catch in my throat and started to cough. At the same moment, I blew all the candles out at the table. We laughed our eyes out. (Marianne Peereboom-Kooijman)
42. One of my patients was a police sergeant. Following his laryngectomy, he was placed on desk duty (answering phone calls). He wasn't allowed in the field because he couldn't carry a weapon and shout "Stop or I'll shoot!". One day, after giving a woman instructions over the phone for ten minutes, answering her questions and the like, she thanked him and then asked when she could speak to a real person. She thought that the "new police computer" was astonishing and couldn't figure out how a machine could answer her questions so easily. When my patient told her he was a real person, she chuckled and said, "What will they think of next?" (David Myssiorek)
41. I went on a field trip last week with my 6 year olds' first grade class to the public library. One of her little girl friends came up to me and asked, " Mr. Lauritzen, did you have you head cut off and then sewed back on?" My little girl started laughing and said to the other little girl, "No, he just has a hole in his neck and can't talk". And then they both laughed. That cut from ear to ear is a tough one to explain to a 6 year old. Anyway, aren't little kids great! She is always wanting me to show her friends my "hole." She gets a kick out of watching the expressions on their faces. (Mark Lauritzen)
40. I teach at a community college that has a very good and very active Licensed Vocational Nursing program. Each year I am invited to talk to the class about larries, stoma care, laryngeal and throat cancers, and communication problems. It is a fun filled couple of hours as I pass around various electro larynx’s (laryngi??) and talk about common experiences of people in the post operative environment. Last year, after talking about mucus and some of the problems of dealing with a runny nose, and how foam stoma covers can become clogged and need to be replaced, I took off my stoma cover to show them how the mucus adheres to the inside and clogs up the area just over the stoma, and that even if the rest of the foam cover looks fine, it is only that part which is directly over the stoma that dictates whether or not the foam needs to be changed. I then moved onto talking about emotions and how laughing and crying sound exactly the same when you are a larrie. I showed them what I meant: I showed them what a “cry” sounded like, and then I showed them what a “laugh” sounded like, and as I was inhaling and exhaling vigorously – without a foam stoma cover in place – I accidentally “coughed” a huge piece of mucus right out into the class. And there it was: this huge piece of mucus that seemed to hang in the air and move slowly and inexorablely toward the middle of the class room; it begin to break apart in slow motion and the entire room became absolutely silent. It separated and each piece took a trajectory that guaranteed that everyone within three feet on either side and a good 10 feet back into the classroom would get their special tutorial lesson on “Mucus Distribution Within the Confines of a Standard Community College Nursing Lecture Environment". And suddenly we all began to laugh. With all of us laughing, I was able to make my point that laughing does sound so much like crying that it seemed a waste of energy to cry when the exact same sound represents laughter. (Paul Galioni)
39. As Larries we often forget that we aren’t “normal”. Recently I had to requalify with a handgun so I thought I would go out to a canyon near by and do some serious target shooting. As I backed up from 25 to 50 to 75 and was finally shooting at 100 feet I found I was doing rather well -- once I found “the groove”. But my foam stoma cover was beginning to clog up with mucus so I took it off without thinking so I could concentrate on the target 100 feet away and find “the groove” that would send all shots very near the bulls-eye. Just as I found that “feeling” that makes each shot fly like magic to that little one inch circle 100 feet away, just as I began to relax and enjoy that feeling of “being one” with the gun and bullet, just as I was firing off round after round after round knowing that a little hole was punching through the target within an inch or so of the bulls-eye, just as I was attaining that feeling of sublime bliss where you know that nothing can go wrong, that every shot will be perfect, a shell ejected, flew through the air, and plopped right into my stoma! It was quite a surprise, but I just bent forward and coughed it out. The little rush of adrenaline sure ruined that sublime feeling of “being one with the gun and bullet” and that “feeling that nothing can go wrong”? Well it too vanished. Even after I put my stoma cover on I could never recapture that feeling of control. Most people flinch at either the kick or the sound of a gun. Me? Now I flinch at the thought of a shell caseing making a "hole in one". The moral of this lesson is that if anything can happen it will. If you need eye protection, you probably need stoma protection as well! (Paul Galioni)
38. I received my phone bill last week, and as always I had been overcharged on my overseas calls. I immediately called MCI and explained to the customer service rep that I was Frank Morgan and what my problem was. She gave me grunting indications that she was with me all the way, and then hit me with "Now Madam will you please speak in your normal voice as I can't understand you." I assured her that was my normal voice and that I would keep calling till I found a rep who did understand me. (Frank Morgan)
37. About 6 months after my operation while I was still using a Cooper-Rand as a speech aid, my wife's best friend brought her young (4yr old) grandson to the house. While she and the wife relaxed on the front porch with drinks and cigarettes, the child was inside with me trying to play with our dog. I showed him where we kept the dog's toys and pointed out the dog's favorite. He picked it up just as his "granny" walked in and started to show it to her where- upon she reminded him that he wasn't allowed to touch things that didn't belong to him without permission. His immediate reply was, "But, Nana, the ROBOT said it was O.K."
36. Overheard at the Cancer Society Dance: "When I dance with a neck breather, he breathes hot air down my cleavage." (Joe Mallon)
35. Chris uses the electro-larynx. During the summer we like to camp. So for our vacation and anniversary we camped up near the upper-peninsula in Michigan - just before the bridge. Well, because it was our anniversary (no kids allowed) we went to the Indian reservations - hitting the Casinos. We went to one of the larger Casinos and soon we discovered we were being followed. The security guard was following my husband and watching, he thought that the electro-larynx was some sort of device to beat the slots... don't I wish. He stopped watching us and conversing on his walkie-talkie when Chris finally said something to me.
(Chris & Julie Marceau)
34. Two "Neck Breather" jokes:
Two neck breathers were conversing with their electro larynx while working on their computers. Suddenly, this message appeared on their monitor screens "Are you mocking me?"
A neck breather was touring a large auto production plant and commenting on the 'high tech production methods using his electro larynx. Slowly, one of the production robots reached out and gave him a big friendly hug and a high five. (Joe Mallon)
33. My grandson said this to his mother: "PopPop has a belly button on his neck."
32. Part of my job entails going into court to conduct commitment hearings. In these hearings, I represent our State Department of Mental Health, and more specifically, the individual state mental hospitals. The hearings are used to obtain or retain mental commitments on patients. During one commitment, in which a number of lawyers were involved reprenting a number of parties, including the patient, his aged girlfriend, her relatives who were worried that she was being taken advantage of, and the state, I was using a small amplifier with neck microphone to allow my voice to be louder. During the patient's testimony, I suddenly realized that the amplifier was playing a local rock radio station. The judge and I exchanged glances and almost broke into laughter (the subject of the patient's testimony did not help matters much either). I quickly turned off the amplifier! (Terry Duga)
31. I use an Optivox Electro Larynx with an oral adaptor and a rigid tube. Last October I was in the town of Widnes, near Liverpool, England, talking with a Cancer Support Group. The patients were mainly women with breast cancer, and one of them was intrigued by my voice. When we got to question time, this lady asked if I could change the end of my device. I said "Yes I could, but why would I need to?" SHE SAID, "IN CASE YOU NEED TO SPEAK GERMAN, OR FRENCH..........." (Frank Morgan)
30. When I went to my son's recently, my grandson heard my new voice (TEP) for the first time and he said, "Gee, Grandmom, you sound grouchy now - can't you use your old voice." My 1 yr old grandaughter then ran the other way, until I pulled out my old Electro-Larynx and started to speak. She came right over to me and hugged me, grabbed the Electro- Larynx and held it to her throat and said YA! YA! YA! This made everyone laugh a little.
29. Waiting in line to register for my chemotherapy, a lady said to me that there wouldn't be anyone there until 1:30 PM. I decided I just had to thank her, so I wrote her a thank you note (remember, I have no way of speaking). When I handed it over to her, she said, "I'm sorry, but I cannot see." With that, we both started laughing infectiously and a lot of other people broke out in laughter. All it takes is a little communication to make this world a little brighter.
28. Shortly after my laryngectomy and TEP, I was making a phone order from a catalog. The young lady on the line interrupted my SLURRPY words with "Pardon me Sir - do you drink?" "No I do not!", I replied. She then said "Oh! I am so sorry - I thought you had a drinking problem." (James A.Thomas)
27. When my husband came home from the hospital he was using the Servox and very well at that. He hadn't spoken on the phone much because I usually answer it. Well, I had to go do errands and I asked him to tell a client that was to call some information about when I would be back and information about his mortgage. I returned home and he said that the client had called and that he had given him the information and had taken down his phone number. I called the gentleman and with complete surprise he was quite impressed that I had a computer that could answer my phone and give out messages like that. I told him it was my husband but he didn't believe me until I broke out in laughter. (Chris and Julie Marceau)
26. I am going to college full time and have been plagued with calls from credit card companies and unwanted solicitations. My husband uses the Servox. So I started getting sick of all the disruptions and asked my husband to answer the calls like he is an answering machine - and at the end, just say....beep! Don't laugh, It works. (Chris and Julie Marceau)
25. The first year after my laryngectomy, I was a "Servox-speaker". I spent a lot of time with my kids and their friends. At that time my son was 13 and my daughter was 9. Children have a lovely way to accept irregularities such as having a strange voice, like the voices we have. One of the first times I was with my daughter's friends at school this curious boy listened very closely to me and I could see that he wanted to try the Servox and ,of course, I let him do it. Soon he managed to speak quite well with it. Then he asked me: "But Tor, what is that other knob for?" I waved my hands, making him understand that I needed the Servox to answer him, then I said "As you can hear, I speak normal Norwegian, but if I use the other knob, it will change to English", I said, and as I changed knob I also changed language. For a short moment the faces of the kids were astonished, but when they found out that I fooled them we all broke out in good laughter!! (Tor Wold)
24. For some reason, in the initial period after my laryngectomy, I NEVER sneezed. When I finally did, however, it was a hoot!! I was sitting at home, in front of my computer. All of a sudden, my nose started to tickle and I felt the sneeze coming on. Doing what was then routine, I sneezed...quickly covering my nose and mouth with my hand....only to quickly discover that I had just sprayed my keyboard and computer screen with hundreds of droplets!! What a way to learn to cover the right HOLE!! Thank goodness for Kleenex and Windex, too! (Dutch Helms)
23. I prepared a bowl of soup for my mom, a new laryngectomee, that was a little warm. She first blew on it with her mouth.......then rolled her eyes at me....and then lowered her neck to the bowl and "wheezed" on it. Needless to say I cracked up! (Sharon Eberhardt)
22. In the hospital, when mom was very thin and was put on tube feeding, she mumbled under her breath, in front of the nurses, "they're fattening me up for the kill." I mumbled back to her, "quit talkin' like a damn turkey dinner!" (Sharon Eberhardt)
21. I was in the grocery store right after Christmas a couple of years back before having the TEP and had to use the Servox to speak. A little boy heard me and asked, "Mister, did Santa bring you that for Christmas?" (Scott Chandler)
20. Having been a beer drinker for years I naturally like the taste still. Now though I drink the non alcoholic kind I go to the beverage store I always went to before surgery. I had been playing around with my Servox and as Servox users know it has a kind of Bass button and high pitch button. I love the Budweiser Frog Commercials and said I can do that, so with a little practice I got to where I could imitate the frogs and their "BUD-wi-SER" pretty well by alternating the buttons when speaking. I went into the beverage store and ordered that way, needless to say getting a lot of attention and "sobering" comments from some who heard it. (Scott Chandler)
19. One day in June a couple of years ago, Joe and I were meeting for our twice-weekly speech lesson. He had mastered the artificial larynx and was now learning esophageal speech with good success. While Joe could accurately produce single-syllable words, two-syllable words were a bit more difficult. After repeated attempts to say, "sev en" in our counting exercise, Joe looked a me and said, "Wowee Brian, this laryngectomee stuff is a real pain in the neck...no pun intended!" He later became an excellent esophageal speaker. (Brian Shute)
18. On the day I left the hospital after surgery, the hospital staff brought me lunch -- a chicken sandwich, a BIG thick one...this to someone still trying to deal with Jello and soup! Well, if they'd offer it, I'd try it. I took a bite that promptly got stuck. The nurse saw me working to get it up or down. She thought surely I was choking. I had to convince her that choking is one problem we don't have!!! (Jim Kelly)
17. On my first solo trip to the bank after my surgery it was the dead of winter here in Pennsylvania and the temperature was near zero. I bundled up with a real heavy jacket and zipped it up as far as it would go. After parking, I started to walk to the bank only to draw stares from everyone who passed me. Not knowing what they were staring at , I withdrew my pocket mirror to see what was wrong with me, lo and behold ,as I chuckled to myself , I saw the steam rising from the collar of my jacket instead of from my nose and mouth. I guess I gave a few people a good laugh or two. (Bob Hoover)
16. I was in the check-out line in Walmart and a blind lady with her seeing-eye dog was in front of me. After she made her purchases and left, the check-out clerk, (an overweight, nosy, know it all person), said to me, "My, aren't we lucky". I immediately pulled out my electro-larynx and replied, "Yeah, we sure are". The clerk gave me a dirty look and said, "Well, at least you can see". (William Jayne)
15. One of my patients said a friend told him that he should go and see a doctor about his voice. My patient responded "I have already seen a doctor. That's why I sound this way and I'm not going back again!!! (Anonymous Physician)
14. A physician I was fitting with a Blom-Singer valve communicated that the whole process was uncomfortable and painful. I said jokingly, "But you are a physician, you are supposed to understand and tolerate pain". He wrote--NOT MY OWN!!!! (Anonymous Physician)
13. A store clerk refused to wait on one of my patients, saying, "You see that hole in her neck. That's the beginning of AIDS". (I can't say I find this humorous. I do find it pretty sad). (Anonymous Physician)
12. When Bill & I went to a wedding after his surgery, a small group of children started following him around calling him Darth Vader. He loved it and showed them how his electro-larynx worked, and they all paraded around after him at the reception. When we left to go home, one of the little boys called out, "Bye, robot-man!" It is amazing how children are able to cope so easily with these things, while adults are often so uncomfortable.
(Mary Alice Renison)
11. Shortly after my surgery in 1993, I was at the store shopping for groceries and the aisles were kind of narrow and there was a rather large person in front of me who was just poking along looking at ever item on the shelves and buying nothing. I had my Servox with me so I just "tooted" it at her and when she realized that there was someone behind her tooting a horn, she moved out of the way and said, "Well I never". I passed her and smiled and went on my way. (Charles Lamar)
10. I, for one, don't mind some humor about the loss of the voice box (my favorite recent tasteless joke was on Comedy Central's "South Park", a show noted for tastelessness. One character is a Vet without a voice box. Ned uses a Servox. At Christmas, he and his buddy performed "O little town of Bethlehem". Ned "sang". Partially through the song, while his buddy kept telling him that he was flat, his batteries ran out). I thought it was quite funny. (Terry G. Duga)
9. When I was using the electro-larynx, I was in a store with my brother-in-law shopping for Christmas decorations. We were discussing just what we would need, when I noticed a boy about 5 or 6 looking and listening to me intently. Then he turned to his mother and said ,"I want one of those for Christmas." (Tom Holcomb)
8. One day my two oldest grandchildren were sliding down my bathtub and getting water all over the carpet. At that moment I was shaving and didn't have my TEP voice operational and I turned and mouthed to them "Quit that, you are soaking the bathroom!" One of them looked at me and said "Oh, Papaw, go get your robot voice." (Tom Holcomb)
7. My seven year old Grandson called me on the phone one Halloween night and asked if he could borrow my voice (Servox). He was going to go to a Halloween party at school as Darth Vader and he knew if I would lend him my voice he would surely win the first prize.
6. On our final annual visit to my husband's Radiation Oncologist, 3 years after completion of radiation treatments, the doctor wanted to look down Will's throat. He first warmed the mirror so it would not fog up, then said, "Open wide and continue to breathe normally through your nose." It was very probably an automatic statement to him since before becoming a Radiation Oncologist, he had been a Dentist, but we both had a very good laugh after we left his office! (Nancy & Will Crawford)
5. A laryngectomee using esophageal speech was talking to a friend in a store, when a bystander, hearing her voice, commented, "My, you are hoarse." She replied, "No, I have had my voice box removed and that's how I talk now." The bystander patted her sympathetically on the shoulder and said, "That's all right, honey, it will grow back." (Al Weitzel)
4. "When I came home after surgery and my Great Grandson saw me talking with the artificial larynx, he got a block out of his toy box, stuck it against his neck and moved his mouth just like me." (Al Weitzel)
3. At work, some people can understand my Servox but many can't, so I write. A friend, Sandy, was visiting with me in my office and I was writing since she could not understand me and the Servox. Anyway, I had just written my part of the conversation and she grabs the pencil and starts writing her part of the conversation. After a line or two, she stops and just bursts out laughing. I wrote, "I can hear." She said, "But, I want to write too."
2. My 2 1/2 year old granddaughter was a little frightened of me and my paraphernalia at first, but she soon came around. She will pick up the Servox, put it in her mouth ( I use the oral adaptor) and begin jabbering. While she is holding the servox in one hand, she has the other hand waving it back and forth. (I have always talked with my hands, even before surgery). A few weeks after I came home from the hospital, she picked up a kleenex and held it to her neck and faked a cough. She will also get the tweezers and saline and say that she has to clean her neck. (Patsy Armstrong)
1. My doctor is at a teaching hospital and from time to time there is a resident with the doctor and he does the check up along with him and, without fail, he puts the tongue depressor in and says " say ahhh "! (Richard Boucher)
If you have a laryngectomee-related anecdote you'd like to have appear on this page, please email it to us - after all, laughter is often the best medicine!!
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