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Adapting to Mutism


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May 19, 2020
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Obligatory Joke. My wife gave me the best gift ever for my 50[SUP]th[/SUP] birthday, she had her vocal cords surgically removed.

Seven years ago, my wife was in a very bad motorcycle accident. A lot of which was documented on the other site under my previous username red90yj.

Short story for our 20[SUP]th[/SUP] anniversary she decided to buy a motorcycle and learn to ride it. After taking the MAF class and 6 months of practice on roads we and the day before our anniversary we started 150-mile road trip. First day was 50 miles. We never reached that destination. She became fixated in a turn and hit a guard rail at 50 mph. She broke her left leg in three places, degloved most of it, lost a large portion of muscle, had a stick pierce her running through her belly and out her back. If that wasn’t enough harm, the hospital traumatized, damaged and paralyzed one of her vocal cords while attempting to intubate her. We then spent six months in a hospital and/or rehab. She endured numerous surgeries then and since and continues to struggle with physical limitations and exhaustion.

The greatest limitation has been her inability to take a breath. With the permanent damage to her airway, scar tissue problems and paralyzed vocal cord. Her air way is less than 1/3 of an average adult. We deal with a lot of choking issues and exhaustion simply from not getting enough air flow. Best way to demonstrate it is, walk up a flight of stairs while breathing through a straw. One will quickly find it’s laborious at best.

After multiple tests, therapies and surgeries, she has decided breathing is more important than speaking and she is scheduled to have her vocal cords removed and her windpipe expanded. I'll be 50 this year she's a year less. We have a bunch of years to share with each other and I'm seeking some ways to make this transition easier.

I've already considered capturing audio from her now, maybe key statements, she could share with her future self or future grand kids. I'm on a short time frame as the surgery is scheduled for July and anything, we record will be somewhat exhausting for her to complete. Anyone want to share a great idea on things to record? I've considered a recording for her voicemail to specifically contact her through email/text. Are there other key business or functions that we should be addressing, maybe banking and insurance?

If you’ve dealt with mutism feel free to reach out to me. Most things online I’ve found is on selective mutism, and very little on physical mutism. I’m told she won’t even be able to whisper. Life goes on we will learn and adapt. I just figured I could put it to the great minds of this forum and writing this done does certainly make it more real for me. I'll miss her voice.

Holy shit man.

I know of one project, not sure what the state of it is. I heard adobe is doing something as well.

In daily life it might be great to have a GUI with buttons like "thanks" "no" "clean the garage". If you record 50 "no", you could even put some emotion behind a button.
:eek: Wow! That sucks. I never knew that story. Anyway. Since I know literally nothing about this. Why is a permanent tracheostomy not an option? Wouldn't that allow her to breath?

Also. How long until you ask her why she's giving you the silent treatment? How will you even know?

Also. How long until you ask her why she's giving you the silent treatment? How will you even know?


The eyes usually say everything.

BearChow, wow, really sorry to hear this, that's rough. I do love the idea of recordings. If she can, maybe share a few memories, hopes and wishes for grandkids, etc. It seems like something that those kids would greatly appreciate when they're older. I sure would, I know that...
My SO is a chatterbox, and there are plenty of times I wish she'd shut up. I couldn't imagine never hearing her voice again though.

Maybe have her record some personal stories she'd like to tell grandkids or some of the things that happened while your kids were growing up that you two decided you'd tell them when they're old enough. Having a recording of some notes or letters she's written to you or your kids over the years might be nice too.

If there's time and she's up for it, have her record a book you guys have both read and enjoyed. I'd push to get as much of her vocabulary as possible recorded in the hopes that technology will allow her to "speak" again one day.

You're in a tough spot BearChow, and I commend you for staying by her side through all you two have experienced. I wish her the best of luck with the surgery and hope you guys can adapt to the new normal.
Very sorry to hear this, the surgery makes sense though.

I recommend start recording everything. Get a portable hard drive and start saving everything you can.

Have her read children's books for grand kids, bed time stories.

I am sure you both have thought about what you would tell your younger self if you could, but mostly get her to laugh, uncontrollably as much as you can.

Otherwise again, just record everything.

You will adjust, the whole family will, and one day it will seem like normal and it was always that way.

My son had hearing problems from a young age, granted he has grown up that way so he never really lost anything, but he is just as happy as can be. This is not the end of the world. Just a new chapter.
Damn, real sorry about this, but good on you for reaching out and doing what you can. What comes to my mind is record her saying I love you, any pet names she has for you or your kids, jokes that you share, maybe even her wedding vows and perhaps cover medical decisions that may come up in the future. Of course get her to say, "oh baby oh baby, you're so big!" :grinpimp:

peace and wheelies
I've read this title twice now as "adapting to muslim"

Overbear must be losing it.
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Maybe get some video footage over strictly audio only because kids and following generations may appreciate the body language to shed more light on her. Sorry to hear the story, you have a great outlook
A friends brother lost his vocal cords because of cancer...He has the neck breathing hole and speaks decently with no electronic devices by placing a finger over the hole. It's a sort of swallowing air technique....I have no idea if the OP's wife could do this........
Well, i hope she has good handwriting!

sucks to hear about having to make the choice between breathing and speaking though, rough spot. things will certainly be different, hopefully in a generally better kind of way.

also, prepare to get hit by the 'talking stick' more after july :flipoff2:
Incompetent doctors should be held accountable!
A throat punch would be a start.
You guys can always learn sign language. It's pretty easy to learn.
record her saying common words multiple times then phrases!

there might be a specific book or paper to read for this, but they do this type of stuff for alexa, google home, siri

i bet theres a program you could download and she could have a talk box made up, and it would be siri but with her voice
I'm no help, but you two sound like a great, devoted couple, which is nice since 95% of the "couples" stuff that gets posted on forums is negative, sometimes really, really negative.

All the best.
I have nothing helpful to add, but I sure hope a better alternative can be found for your wife. Best of lucks!
Not sure about grandkids age currently or if they're even present but I suggest having her read a few children's stories so the g-kids can hear her when they're young. Maybe some insight into life for when they get older. Maybe some life lessons, thoughts of the future, possible wishes(?).

I'll say once you get the recordings make multiple back ups and possibly drop a external HD in a safe deposit box or home safe.
I remember reading about that on the old forum, sorry to hear about her further issues. It can't be easy.

Definitely do as other's have suggested and make as many recordings as you can.

Not sure what technology is currently out there, but if they applied what's out there now to solve this issue, they could definitely make software or a device that would speak what is typed in her voice.

Hope it works out for her.
Lots of good suggestions. I really appreciate being able to share, again for me writing it out makes it more real. Some of the questions with answers?

Are there other options? Believe me we have and continue to explore options. She has had numerous surgeries there isn’t a lot of material to work with anymore except scare tissue. Anyone with scars knows they aren’t malleable, nor do they vibrate. We have a top Otolaryngology on the east coast, after many years and many surgeries, my wife has decided to focus on quality of life.

You know what happens when you are tired, out of breath, and lethargic? You sit down and watch life pass you by. I wasn’t going to let her just sit there alone. We are both tired of sitting, we have both picked up a lot of extra weight and bad habits. This isn’t a new hurdle it’s a doorway.

Why not a tracheotomy? It is an option, she had one for several months, they require a lot of care and caution. And it wouldn’t necessarily helping with the chocking or sleeping issues. Mostly she does not want one again.

Will she be able to whisper? Maybe, one additional issue is scare tissue keeps bridging between the paralyzed cord and the non-paralyzed one and it too has had tissue removed. These are very soft thin tissues. We aren’t taking the chance, that is why I brought it to the great minds here.

When will she stop giving me the silent treatment and how will I know? This really is a great question. I talk about us capturing her voice, however; what we are capturing is the second iteration of her voice, it’s a little raspier and quieter than when we met. As a society we put some much emphasis on recognizing people by sound. We just want to safeguard a little of that identity.

We have no grandkids but with four kids of our own we are hopeful. She is excited about reading kids books and storing them digitally. I’m building a small sound booth (putting up a few carpet panels) and looking for a respectable mic that I can afford or borrow, until then I’ll just use a gamer's headset my son has.
awesome man, sounds like you guys are headed in a good direction.

'when in doubt, take action' or however it goes, quality of life is powerful stuff :beer:
I knew of a guy that had one vocal cord removed and was able to talk, though very horsely. He lost his due to throat cancer. From what I understand, it was exhausting. You will need to work with her to find a new way to communicate,

on a positive, she wont waste much time telling you how you are wrong.
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