It was probably the combination of the brain injury, ruptured and collapsed lungs, and the tracheotomy tubes and then just the trauma of everything that happened but whatever the reason is, I lost it. My voice was a big part of who I was and now it was gone..
Adam, my speech therapist did one good thing before I quit seeing him, he gave my mom the number to a doctor that he thought might be able to help me. My mom called and set up an appointment to meet with him. He is at UCLA but I was excited so we made the three hour drive to the hospital.
In order for him to see my vocal cords he had to get a small camera down my throat and the best way to do that was via my nose. They sprayed a very bitter numbing solution in my mouth to numb the back of my throat and then sprayed some up both nostrils; we weren’t sure which one would be best. In the video he could see that the right vocal folds were not really moving and he said that we could put an implant in and that will possibly make my voice stronger so we scheduled surgery.
On the day of 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.
On January third, 2002 I had a vocal cord implant put in. It wasn’t a long surgery and he just put me into a twilight sleep because he had to wake me up so he could find the best position for the implant to be inserted. He had me say some things 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. I knew when I awoke from that surgery I wouldn’t hear my voice like I remembered it ever again but I, at least had some voice to speak with. I will never have a strong speaking voice but I don’t let that stop me from talking to people and speaking at high schools about what the consequences of drinking and driving can be and what someone else’s poor choice cost me.