I Spent around four and a half months in a coma but, after just a couple weeks of me being in the coma they realized that they had no way of knowing how long I would be Unconscious so they decided to take the tubes that were going down my throat into my lungs to give me oxygen out, and they performed a tracheostomy on me.

Your vocal cords are located at the top of your Trachea and I don’t really know if the tubes that were going down my throat did any damage, I suspect it was all or mostly brain injury but the right side of my vocal cords became paralyzed, which made talking almost impossible and then with the damage that my lungs sustained I had very little breath support to force the air out.   

I felt that my voice was my strength, of everything I lost my vision, my leg, the use of my right hand and my right leg along with that the ability to write or draw and I will probably never walk independently again but if I had my voice I could still… something.

                On January 3rd 2002 I went in to have an implant put in my right vocal cord. The problem was that the right side of my vocal cords weren’t closing; they just let the air pass over them without moving which made my speech even more incoherent.

Before surgery they wanted to put in an Intravenous catheter so they could give me antibiotics and other medications, hmm. But it was like my veins had a mind of their own. Every time they stuck me my vein would either roll, collapse, blow or just disappear; Ya, I was stuck by a lot  of  different highly qualified people. I suggested they try my foot but they didn’t want to so after trying both elbow creases, both forearms, both hands, a couple fingers and my wrist there was not a phlebotomist  I didn’t challenge, we jokingly said that I would be a good final exam . Almost every different location was with a new person after what seemed like half the day they called in a pediatric doctor and he got a line started, of all places, in my foot. By that time I was pretty black and blue in my arms. I suggested my foot because when I was a toddler I got really sick and that was the only place those doctors could get an IV started; I used to look at that scar all the time.

Once they got me fully under sedation they put a central line in me and took the IV out of my foot.

. During the surgery the doctors had to wake me up so I could say something; they needed to hear me speak so they could try to position the implant in a way that would give me some kind of voice. Those doctors however had never heard me talk before and during that brief time I was sure I heard MY voice, the one I was so desperate to get back but as quickly as it was there it was gone again. they kept moving the implant around until they were satisfied with the placement of it and then woke me up. I was a little more than disappointed but my family and the friends I still talked to were not, I could talk better and that was all that mattered to them.

I still hate my voice and I don’t imagine that ever changing but I can talk and I suppose that’s what matters. In crowds and wherever it gets too noisy I don’t talk much if I talk at all.  It is hard for me to talk loudly, it makes me cough and it will make me gag the longer I have to do it.  

                It seems so small, that losing my voice would be so big for me and, now, my voice doesn’t bother or embarrass me so much; I just want to have the volume that most people have.


4 thoughts on “Paralyzed

  1. Joan T

    Jen I am imagining them trying to get a line into a vein all over your body. That is such an assault on your body…only one of many you have endured. I’m glad that you were able to get a voice back, even if it doesn’t sound quite like it did before…you can speak and that is the important thing. I know you still have problems and had surgery recently. I think about what your journey has been like a lot, and I keep you in my prayers. Thank you for sharing your story with us.


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