September 2009




Name Of Column Author Title Article Type
News Views Pat Sanders Intro VP Coordinator News & Events
VoicePoints M K Benjamin, MA CCC-SLP Understanding Insurance Jungle Education-Med
WebWhispers Columnist Randy Lemster SOS Stay On Scene Experience
Vicki's Midnight Train Vicki Eorio Dusk & Renewal Experience
Between Friends Donna McGary Earth Grandmother Commentary
Practically Speaking Elizabeth Finchem Rehabilitation Requires Change Education
WebWhispers Columnist Mike Burton Crunch Commentary
New Members Listing Welcome News & Events





Introduction to our new "VoicePoints" Coordinator

Meaghan Kane Benjamin, M.A., CCC-SLP

Meaghan Kane Benjamin is a speech pathologist who received her B.A. in Speech and Hearing Sciences from Montclair State University, NJ and M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology from The Ohio State University. Meaghan is currently employed as a Clinical Specialist for Atos Medical, Inc. Prior to joining Atos Medical in 2006, Meaghan worked at San Francisco General Hospital and University of San Francisco in the Otolaryngology Department with Mark Singer, MD and Carla Gress, PhD for 8 years (collectively).

She then relocated to Chicago where she spent two years in the Otolaryngology Department at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare with Barry Wenig, MD. Meaghan remains on staff as a consultant/ resource for patients and professionals in the areas of head & neck cancer, voice and swallowing. She has devoted her 14-year career to speech, swallowing, and voice rehabilitation with particular interest in laryngectomee rehabilitation.

In addition to her extensive clinical experience with TE voice restoration, Meaghan has acted as the registrar for the IAL for last 4 years and has directed and participated in numerous seminars and training programs including the IAL Voice Institute, UCSF Laryngectomee Rehabilitation Conference, Pacific Rim Voice Conference; Stanford University Head and Neck Rehabilitation Conference; Evanston Northwestern Endoscopic Evaluation of Voice and Swallowing Conference; UCSF Endoscopic Evaluation of Voice and Swallowing Conference; Midwestern Laryngectomee Conference & Atos Laryngectomee Rehabilitation Conference. She is also invited faculty at the upcoming Head and Neck Cancer Rehabilitation for the Advanced Practitioner (Oct 2009); North Dakota Lost Cord Meeting (Oct 2009) and Stanford University Laryngectomee Conference (April 2010).

Meaghan is passionate about education of both patients and professionals in the area of head and neck cancer rehabilitation and believes that continued research and education is required to improve services and outcomes to this population.

We welcome Meaghan, as another in our esteemed list of professionals who have volunteered their time to help educate both our professional and patient members.

Pat W Sanders
WebWhispers President



VoicePoints written by professionals 

Coordinated by Meaghan Kane Benjamin, M.A., CCC-SLP





Understanding the Insurance Jungle

Meaghan Kane Benjamin, MA CCC-SLP


The hot topic of conversation at the moment seems to be health insurance.

Who has it? Who doesn’t?

How can you get it?

How much will it cost?

What does it cover?

These are questions that don’t necessarily have easy, straightforward, affordable answers but in the world of laryngectomees and cancer, cost of care is a big factor.

Let’s look at the definitions.
Insurance: Noun
  • financial protection against loss or harm: an arrangement by which a company gives customers financial protection against loss or harm such as theft or illness in return for payment premium.
  • money paid by insurance company: The sum of money that an insurance company pays or agrees to pay if a specific undesirable event occurs.
  • Insurance Premium: payment made to obtain insurance


Healthcare: Noun
  • treatment and management of illness
  • preservation of health through services offered by the medical, dental, pharmaceutical, clinical laboratory sciences,nursing, and allied health professionals. Health care embraces all the goods and services designed to promote health, including “preventive, curative and palliative interventions”, whether directed to individuals or to populations.


So it seems pretty straight forward, right? We have insurance for our car, our houses and even our lives. We are provided with the cost of our premium and a description of what is covered. If I get into an accident with my car, I have a deductible that I pay and then the insurance company pays the rest. If lightning strikes the roof, I may pay a $250 deductible and the insurance pays the rest of the cost of roof repairs. If I die an untimely death, I paid a certain amount every month so that a predetermined lump sum will be provided to my family.

Why isn’t health care insurance like this? We pay a premium every month and obtain health insurance and then an undesirable event like cancer occurs, treatment is required and there are all these hazy, complicated rules on what will be covered and at what cost. Even better, there is typically an unending list of exclusions and limitation based on a specific diagnosis rendered or procedure performed. I can’t provide you with a blueprint for this system but I think it is important to understand a few things regarding our current system to help you be a better advocate for yourselves or loved ones.

Medicare is a federal entitlement program under the U.S. Social Security Administration that reimburses hospitals and physicians for medical care provided to qualified people over 65 years old. Entitlement means that you are entitled to it regardless of your financial situation because you paid a tax towards it during your working years. Medicare sets the rate it is willing to pay for each procedure and many private insurances accept the pricing/reimbursement based on what Medicare sets. Even with Medicare, there can be some pretty hefty "out of pocket" expenses for health care and often secondary or supplemental policies are needed.

Medicare reimbursement changes based on the region and the medicare intermediary for that region. Medicare sets an allowable amount, then pays 80% of that allowable. For example, the allowable for an indwelling style prosthesis ranges from 101.00 -132.00 based on the region. Medicare will cover 80% of that 101.00 -132.00 and the patient is on the hook for the rest. If you have a secondary insurance, they may pick up as little as the other 20% and as much as whatever Medicare doesn’t cover. It is important to obtain a description of benefits from the secondary insurance, request a case manager be assigned to your case and find out if a certificate of medical necessity is necessary in order for supplies to be covered.

Private insurance policies will outline at what level they will cover durable medical equipment, which laryngectomee supplies fall under. This will vary from individual to individual. Ask your insurance company to provide you, in writing, with an actual description (not a summary) of benefits. This will help you understand what your out of pocket expenses may be. Remember, your medial visits (MD, SLP, XRT) will be separate from your cost for supplies. You may need to get your MD or SLP involved to provide documentation on the medical necessity of your supplies. It is a bit of leg work but worth it as you will need these supplies on an ongoing basis. It would also work best to be assigned a case manager, whom you can speak directly with, for each of your questions because your interactions and medical necessity will be ongoing.

What about Medicaid? Medicaid is a program, funded by the federal and state governments, which pays for medical care for those who can't afford it. If you have Medicaid and obtain your supplies from the hospital, you may not be charged for the supplies. If you obtain your supplies directly from the vendor, you will most likely be charged in full because most vendors do not bill Medicaid. This is because there is an exorbitant amount of paperwork. Medicaid does not typically reimburse much and the individual can not be held financially responsible for payment for anything not covered by Medicaid. This is the case regardless of whether Medicaid is the primary or secondary insurance. Basically, it is too expensive for many companies to cover the costs related to Medicaid.

As the economic situation in our country continues, hospitals have looked at cutting costs and supplies have been the first to go. This is often due to the fact that many hospitals are not able to get reimbursed for the supplies they are providing and it is affecting their budget. The result is that patients are getting charged or referred directly to the vendors to order their supplies. If you are buying direct from the vendor, spend some time on the phone with the insurance person for that vendor. There are varying programs and billing processes that can ultimately save you money.

For better or worse, it is necessary to get involved in the process and be as assertive as possible. Don’t take “No” for an answer although this will be the first thing you will hear. Ask questions, know your policy, be persistent and may the force be with you.







SOS - Stay on Scene


About a month ago, I was helping my wife, Marilyn, clean out a rental house and was carrying 2 bags of trash down the driveway to the street. On the way down the sloping driveway, my legs got tangled up with the trash and I began to stumble. I tried to run to keep my balance but began to fall. While I was attempting to break my fall I landed on my left arm, fell sideways and cracked my head on the street which knocked me unconscious.

When I came to, Marilyn was standing over me (petrified, of course) and asked me if I was okay. I apparently raised my head a bit to nod and the blood began to run out from under my head. She called 911, as did a neighbor, and an EMT ambulance and fire ambulance were there within moments. Since I had a head injury the EMTs placed me on a hard board and put a cervical collar on me to transport me to the nearest ER, which is where the trouble started.

I speak with an EL and, with the collar, I could not communicate so Marilyn did the talking for me. She told the nurse that I was a laryngectomee, could not speak, and breathed through a hole in my neck. I managed to get the nurse’s attention and pointed to my Med Alert bracelet which has Total Neck Breather on it. The nurse nodded and said, “Oh, you’re a trach” and walked out of the room. I lay there and, having had several surgeries, watched the O2 monitor and when the cervical collar would ride up covering my stoma, I would pull it down and start inhaling harder to bring the oxygen level back up. Marilyn, who was standing at my side, noticed what I was doing and went outside to tell the nurses that I was having a difficult time breathing. Their response was “Oh, he’s all right; you worry too much” and stayed outside of the room.

My wife came back in the ER room and stayed with me. I remember looking up at the acoustical ceiling and being fascinated by the dots starting to merge and my vision blurring. Marilyn was watching me closely, saw my eyes begin to cloud over and saw that the collar had ridden up covering my stoma. She immediately pulled it down exposing the hole in the collar and yelled BREATHE. I luckily responded and began to raise my O2 level and cleared up. During all of this, the O2 monitor was going off like a banshee and the ER nurses never moved from the hallway. I was dying in front of my wife who, thank God, knew what to do and acted. Once again, she saved my life. This experience illustrates the tremendous importance of our caretakers and how much we depend on them, especially in an emergency. Stay with us, PLEASE!!

As an aside, when I went to my primary physician and told him what happened, he became livid and wrote a letter to the hospital Director of Nursing asking her to let me speak to the nursing staff telling them what a laryngectomee is and how we breathe. I went to her office and the receptionist told me that they had just gotten the fax from my doctor and the Director would certainly call me to set up an appointment. To date, I have heard nothing.

(I hope that this will serve as a prime example of how much we depend on our caretakers & how important it is for them to stay with us in an emergency.)

Randy Lemster, 1999
Las Vegas, Nv.





It has been a very long day culminating with a significant project finally finished for the time being. I am really tired. Tired in epidural shots are not as successful as I had hoped and my back is speaking to me in dull tones, asking for pain medication which I am trying to avoid but am also tired in spirit.

Am sitting outside. It is evening. I have never been sure what dusk means but I believe I am enjoying it now. The sky is still lit but softly. The birds are quietly chirping, no harsh calls of danger but with sounds of contentment. In my mind I see them settling into their nests, moving and wiggling until they are comfortable and the chicks are in their proper place. Kind of like snuggling down under a blanket.

There are bats flying, a lot of them. Circling in ever decreasing formations. Then, like magic, they are gone but I know they will reappear later to repeat the ritual.

I don't know the name of the very noisy violinists that rub their back legs together to produce a quasi melodious sound that varies in sound and intensity. They seem to call on relatives to join them in this chorus. It does not inspire memories of the classics but it is consistent and non-obtrusive. A perfect background to the softer sounds of the evening. Although night insects attack my husband, they don't seem to bother me. I am able to sit for hours outside with few if any bites. Am not so sure they are not love bites.

All of a sudden I see fire flies! I don't think I have seen those since I was was a child in Iowa. We would catch them and put them in bottles to watch their tails light up. In retrospect, it was probably cruel but as children, we didn't realize that. We would spend all our time from finishing the dinner dishes to going to bed being fascinated by these creature. Our hearts would be broken when we discovered all captured beautiful creatures were dead when we got up in the morning.

Annie is happy sitting at the gate watching what little neighborhood activity is still left. The mowers have stopped. The blowers are silent. A few dogs are leading their owners home after their walks. Laughter can be heard from nearby houses. A few slamming door. Maybe that last noise is a TV being turned down.

This is my time for prayer....prayer as I define it. A conversation with whatever Higher Power may listen to me. There is so much!

We have lost Teddy Kennedy. As an Irish Catholic American woman, my head and my heart are full of memories of all of the Kennedys. I was young, I was Irish, I was driven. It was a tremendous legacy to watch and to try to emulate by participating in public service. At the time of the Kennedys appearing, my options were limited. I could become a nun, which was the ultimate ticket to heaven; a teacher, but I really should be a nun to be effective, get married right out of high school or, maybe, be a nurse. With no support from my, oh, so, traditional father, I decided to become a nurse. We'll talk about that in another time and another place.

As I contemplate the efforts necessary for the renewal of my spirit, my background and all that means to me, my prayers include beloved husband, my children, my grandchildren, the remarkable people I meet when I volunteer, my old co-workers (I will try to focus on them as human beings), those I have yet to meet, and me. I pray for strength, for knowledge, for patience, for laughter, for an opportunity to make a difference. That is all I have ever wanted. It is a huge request but I trust that I will be granted some part of it.

We all get tired and discouraged. We all lose sight of what we are aiming for. The death of an Icon may inspire us.

But in the meantime, sitting in what is now darkness with the blanket of night descending, I am quiet and hopeful and have lost some of the fear.

God bless.
Vicki Eorio

[Vicki, you make a difference every month with your thoughts, ideas, and well written words. PWS]






Earth Grandmother


Back in the day, I was an “Earth Mother”. Natural childbirth, breastfeeding, home-made organic baby food, grown in our garden or from the health food store, co-sleeping and cloth diapers; I even looked the part with my long hair and granny glasses as I carried my beautiful baby boy around in a denim sling at the local Bluegrass Festival.

Times change and with them circumstances; by the time I had to go to work after my divorce, I had switched to disposable diapers and McDonald’s Happy Meals. I cut my hair, got contacts, went to college and even used pesticides, albeit very reluctantly, in my garden. I stopped drinking Celestial Seasonings Sleepy Time and Red Zinger and switched to Earl Grey and Merlot. I grew up.

My son also grew up and married a wonderful woman. They are a rather astonishing amalgam of Red-Neck-Techo-Geek-Throwback. They love motorcycles, RV’s, computers and their gadgets, garden with enthusiasm and adore animals. They even drink herbal tea as well as designer coffees and both seem to be sadly deficient in the “neat gene”. (I, on the other hand, have recently unearthed mine.)

They would be kind of annoying if I didn’t love them so much and if they had not produced the most beautiful little baby girl you could imagine. And I get to take care of her every day. The Earth Mother is reborn… rekindled… rejuvenated. I kid you not - this is the best thing that could have happened to me and it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gotten cancer.

That is not an easy statement for me to make. I have heard other cancer survivors make that claim over the years and it always rubbed me the wrong way. They seemed to be saying cancer was a good thing, which, of course, it is not. I do understand how overcoming the challenges we face during treatment and recovery can make us stronger, better persons and that becomes a positive force in our lives as survivors. But some survivors seemed to be saying something different, something deeper, something more fundamental - that the cancer itself was a positive force. I think I finally understand what they mean.

When I was diagnosed in 2000, I was 47 and had just started graduate school. I joked that I had finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Those plans were derailed because of numerous setbacks during my treatments. It was a big disappointment. By the time I was well enough to go back to school and pursue my PhD, the prospect was overwhelming and I had lost my drive. During my recovery, instead of studying theories of aging, economics and research methodologies, I had actually worked with the elderly in retirement communities and in their homes. I saw a lot of well-meaning caregivers infantilize the frail and condescend to the old. I saw the damage done when you segregate people by age and the anguish families feel at their sometimes limited choices as a loved one ages and needs additional care. I began to rethink the value of a PhD in Gerontology when it came to addressing the real problems facing the elderly and their families and caregivers every day.

Meanwhile, my son married, I moved back to Maine, my parents had some health issues of their own, I puttered around in my garden, built an addition on my son and daughter-in-law’s home for my apartment and drifted aimlessly, albeit quite cheerfully, along.

Then, came Kayleigh. I told the kids I would watch her for the summer so they didn’t have to deal with the hassle and expense of daycare for a few months, anyway. After that, I had some traveling to do. It has been wonderful. She IS a lot of work, but even more fun and joy. Last weekend my son had the flu and he is, like many men, a big baby when he is sick! Poor Cori (my DIL) was struggling with a fussy baby and a cranky husband when she asked if I would mind watching Miss Kay while she ran to the store for cough medicine, ice cream and diapers.

It had been a muggy day and Kayleigh and I were both hot and sticky by the time it started to rain that evening. We went out on the deck and reveled in that refreshing soft, warm summer shower. She was delighted and fascinated by the sounds of rain pattering down on the metal table and the feel of it on her skin. We turned our faces up to catch the drops and she crowed with delight the way only little babies do. After I brought her in and wrapped in her favorite blankie, she fell asleep in my arms. We sat in the rocking chair and as I looked down at those wet curls and felt that warm little body nestled in my arms, I knew magic.

Dr. McGary, doing innovative research on cognition in healthy elders, would not have known that magic. She would not have had the time to be the earth grandmother playing in the rain with Kayleigh her first summer. I like to think “Dr. McGary” might have made a contribution to the issues we face as our population ages and I like to think she would have had a stimulating and exciting career as a gerontologist. But she would not have known this and whatever recognition and awards she might have garnered, she would not have found it more rewarding.

My generation is famous for thinking we “can have it all”. It is a romantic and destructive myth. Life simply does work that way. It is full of choices, some we make, some which are made for us, but with each choice comes consequences. Treatments, voices, partners, careers, colleges, houses, mates – life choices we all must make – each resulting in at least one “Road Not Taken”. Cancer forced me to make some hard choices. But the path I chose as a result has been unexpectedly satisfying.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

~Robert Frost~






Rehabilitation Requires Change

Recently I watched an interview of David Kessler, M.D., discussing his New York Times Bestseller, “The End of Overeating; Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite”. Dr. Kessler served as the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The blurb on the cover puts it this way: “Dr. David Kessler, the dynamic former FDA Commissioner who reinvented the food label and tackled the tobacco industry, now reveals how the food industry has hijacked the brains of millions of Americans. Dr. Kessler cracks the code of overeating by explaining how our bodies and minds are changed when we consume foods that contain sugar, fat and salt. Food manufacturers create products by manipulating these ingredients to stimulate our appetites, setting in motion a cycle of desire and consumption that ends with a nation of overeaters.” In this book he explains how humans, much like Pavlov’s dogs, become hardwired to anticipate food with fat, sugar and salt. He explains “for the first time why it is exceptionally hard to resist certain foods, and why it’s so easy to overindulge”. It’s the cigarette lab story again.

During his summary he made this simple statement, “rehabilitation requires change”. I thought to myself he is so right. That statement can be applied to any situation we continue to face on a daily basis. We may be in the midst of some stage of rehabilitation to regain our lives and our health. Whether it is a death, divorce, job loss, a move, or a health issue like heart problems, cancer and/or laryngectomy, we know one thing for sure, rehabilitation will be required. In due time we learn to be our own advocates since we are the only person who can make the necessary changes. We may receive help and guidance, but we must “walk the walk”. We are the one who decide to talk again, and how we will do that, when all is said and done.

After I listened to Dr. Kessler go into more detail about how we, as a society, slowly became addicted to the fat, sugar and salt that has been added to our food in recent decades, I wanted to know about him as an author and more concerning the content of this book. I finally bought a copy for further research, but it was only after I went to so I could verify some of this information. I found a rather well written article covering Dr. Kessler and this book that appeared in the May 6, 2009 issue of The Huffington Press.

When the amount of fat, sugar and salt that we unknowingly consume daily is laid out it is astonishing. Learning to read labels is a start. Did you know that you must multiply the percentages of all the listed items on the label by the number of servings posted at the top of the label? I didn’t. Can you identify all the different kinds or salt and sweeteners that are listed the label of one product? A word of caution, if you suddenly stop consuming salt, sugar and fat you may notice a significant drop in weight as your body flushes the toxins away. It is best to have your doctor monitor your medication and dosages. Blood pressure and other health concerns will be affected.

When asked how we can deal with this food addiction, Dr. Kessler related it to any other addiction or bad habit. To recover one needs to rehabilitate and make a significant shift or maintain a change for 21 days to achieve the best results.

Webster’s defines “rehabilitate” as: to restore, to make suitable.
1. To restore rank, privileges, or property which one lost.
2. To restore the good name or reputation of: to reinstate in good repute.
3. To put back in good condition: to re-establish on a firm, sound basis.
4. In sociology, to restore (a dependent, defective, or criminal) to a state of physical, mental, and moral health through treatment and training.

(Author’s note: I’m partial to number 3 since it applies specifically to laryngectomee rehabilitation.)

As I thought about Dr. Kessler’s suggestions for change, I was reminded of the early stages of rehabilitation laryngectomees must go through. Rehabilitation requires change. It is not such a huge leap from the discussion about what we put into our bodies to the changes we must now acknowledge and work toward.

Who knew our favorite cereals, hot dog and hamburger buns had to have added sugar and salt to measure up to the overall effect on our taste buds? Now I know why they put corn syrup in everything, even powdered coffee creamer. I felt I won a small victory while reading labels while grocery shopping. I found brand of catsup without corn syrup. Of course it was on the very top shelf and nearly out of my reach. It tastes just fine, but it costs a little more. We could change that if more people boycotted the unnecessarily sweetened brands. Remember they made these food items with extra salt and sugar because they were convinced you’ll buy it because of the saltier taste. We’re such loyal consumers we buy according to brand names instead of reading what it is in the package.

It’s a personal choice, but I have the same problem with canned soups that have MSG and way too much salt. The same goes for fast food chains for my taste buds. I have to skip them because the salt is just too much. I recall when I joined Weight Watchers years ago, and after going several weeks without sugar, salt, butter, and other items my palate was cleansed (healed…back to normal) and I could really notice just how much salt was in some products. The same is true for laryngectomees following surgery, and tube feeding followed by radiation and chemo for some. After a few weeks, or months, of going without our normal diet our taste buds are different. For some the taste buds will be more acute, for others the taste will be “off”. It is easy to assume that radiation or surgery caused the change. Now we have another possibility to consider. After my surgery and radiation salt was bitter, ripe fruit and ice cream was about as sweet as I could tolerate. Desserts made with sugar were impossible.

Another change that has crept up on us as consumers is the preservatives that are added for extended shelf life of the food products we buy and store. Fresh is so much better for us. It is recommended that we shop the grocery store from right to left around the outer perimeter where all the fresh stuff is found from bread to produce, meat, fish, and dairy. If you must venture into the middle aisles be sure to read the labels and compare the contents not just the prices. Know what your daily requirements are for sodium and sucrose. What kind of fat and how much is best?

If you’ve eaten in a restaurant lately you have noticed how big the portions are, and how often you end up taking a box of “plan-aheads” home for a second meal. I figure that into the price I’m willing to pay before I order. Sometimes ordering a couple of appetizers is enough to make a meal for one. What I hadn’t noticed until it was pointed out is that restaurant plates have gotten much larger in the past 20 years. I’ve learned to reach for a luncheon plate at home to down size my portions at home. Did you know that china plates sold today are too large to fit into kitchen cabinets built in the 1960’s and 70’s? Ah, marketing. More is better? More is more.

Now that we have access to this important information we won’t have to wonder any longer why our population has gained so much weight that it has become another national health problem. We can change this one too.







Hi everybody, I thought I would take this opportunity to let you know a bit about myself. I am 56 with and have a wife named Susie and two boys, Thomas (17) and Stuart (15). I also have a 35 year old son (Raymond) from a previous relationship. I was born in London and have lived in Towcester, Northamptonshire, which is a quite peaceful and calm part of middle England, for the last 10 years. Prior to that we lived in Essex, only about 20 miles away from the late Rosalie whose WW columns I am sure you miss greatly. I had my laryngectomy in September 2006 and finally put in words what went on and sent it in for WW publication. Titled ‘From Me To You’, it was serialised from January to August. I hope you read and enjoyed my effort.

I thought I would try my hand at something a little different this time. Maybe give you folks across the pond a bit more of the UK experience.

Imagine the scene, ladies and gentlemen. It’s a lovely summer’s day and you are going into town to do some shopping. The windows are down or maybe the air con is pumping out the cooled stuff and the radio is playing some nice sounds. To get into town a one way system operates and you have to take a right hand filter lane to join it. The lights are at red, you are stationery with handbrake on, gear in neutral. You are tapping on the steering wheel to the beat of the music coming through the speakers, awaiting the lights to change. Then………..WHACK - you and the car shoot forward because a man in a white van has just crunched up your car’s rear end. You each get out of your respective vehicles to inspect the damage. His damage being in a higher bodied vehicle than yours is fairly minor but the back of your car is a bit of a mess. You return to the front of the car and take a pad and pen from the glove compartment to exchange details. Your car is still ok to drive and you carry on with your shopping plan, although not as happy as you were 15 minutes ago.

When you arrive home you contact your insurers and explain what happened and they send you the necessary paperwork which you duly fill in and return. Your car is now in the garage under repair and your policy (thank God) allows you a courtesy car so you can still get around. A few weeks pass by and you have your own car back fully repaired. You then receive a letter from your insurers explaining that the white van had false number plates, as was the address he gave you and his so called insurers have never heard of him. Therefore the accident is now YOUR fault and the blame will be reflected by a increase in your next premium payment and the incident will be recorded accordingly upon the UK insurers’ database, so even if you change insurers they will be aware. Apparently, now, every accident MUST have a guilty party and if they cannot find the real one it’s transferred to YOU! That’s the way motor vehicle insurance works in the UK.

I have never put this to the test but I have since been told (from a reliable source) that if you get in any accident, you dial for the emergency services on your mobile (or find someone who has got one to do it for you) and ask for an ambulance to check out for whiplash resulting from the shunt from behind. This, I understand generates a visit from the police to the scene and that it is standard practice for them to perform a check on both vehicles involved. White van man is definitely in deep shit. Whether you still retain the insurance blame remains a mystery as the insurers need somebody to apply it to, but at least you have an argument backed up by the police and not a phantom on a piece of paper picturing the accident as you remember it.

We are also in the midst of what we call the ‘Credit Crunch’. This is where we are in the process of having an economic system implode. You cannot get a mortgage, house prices are falling, as are interest rates, shortages of jobs, all manner of horrible things going on in the finance sector of the economy and we are in debt as a country up to our eyeballs. I am sure that all over the world we are experiencing the same thing phenomenon; it’s just known by different names. I, for one, am quite pleased to be involved in the ‘Credit Crunch’, as when I had my Lary operation they removed all of my teeth and I was told that I could not have dentures fitted either. So to be involved with anything with a ‘Crunch’ gives me a warm glow and an immense sense of wellbeing.

Thought for the month
I used be undecided but now I am not so sure…………………………..



Welcome To Our New Members:


I would like to extend a "Warm Welcome" to our most recently accepted laryngectomees, caregivers, vendors, and professionals who have joined our WebWhispers community within this past month. There is a great wealth of knowledge and information to be accessed and obtained from our website, email lists, and newsletters. If ever there should be questions, concerns or suggestions, please feel free to submit them to us from the "Contacts" page of our website.


Thanks and best wishes to all,


Michael Csapo

VP Internet Activities

WebWhispers, Inc.


We welcome the 42 new members who joined us during August 2009:


Cindy Ahern - (Caregiver)
Elizabethtown, PA

Val Anderson
Queensland, AUS

Diana Andrews
Fort Wayne, IN


Terri A Baker - (Caregiver)
Huber Heights, OH

Bertrand M. Bell
New York, NY

Trish Black - (Caregiver)
Union Grove, AL


Saundra Boston
Youngstown, OH

Patricia Brown
Custer, SD

Lafayette Burton
Voorhees, NJ


Michel A Campbell
Huber Heights, OH

Gilles Decelles
St. Lazare, Quebec, CAN

Francisco Ferrari
Burke, VA


Mark A Ferguson
Oak, AL

Lee Folk
Surprise, AZ

Mary Harris
N. Oxford, UK


Cathy Hoffman - (Caregiver)
Galion, OH

Gary Hoffman
Galion, OH

Bridgette House - (SLP)
Franklin, NC


Virginia M. Huffman
Atlantic Beach, FL

Rudy Lashley
Columbia, MD

Carol Sue Lawson
Desloge, MO


Mary Mason
W. Lothian, Scotland

Joseph F. Van De Mark
Piermont, NY

Cindy McInnis - (Caregiver)
Halifax, Nova Scotia, CAN


Oran McInnis
Halifax, Nova Scotia, CAN

Ralph Mitchel Nelson
Oklahoma City, OK

Michael Ouellette
Windsor, Ontario, CAN


Janice Paul
Knoxville, TN

Evelyn Provost
Nanaimo B.C., CAN

James Raley
Houston, TX

Debbie Rollins
Richmond, KY
Steve Schoeppner
Las Cruces, NM
Paul Sikora
Tucson, AZ
Carol J. Smith - (Caregiver)
Brewer, Maine
Vinal S. Smith
Brewer, Maine
Pat Tayman - (Caregiver)
Littleton, NC
Lynn Tayman
Littleton, NC
Raymond Totillo
Corona, CA
Dee Whisnant - (Caregiver)
Colombus, TX
Dan Williams
Granbury, TX
Rhonda Williams - (Caregiver)
Granbury, TX
Barrie Zink - (Caregiver)
Hanover, PA


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