Sunday, 12 October 2014


The Centre has given me my speaking voice back  Quite literally.

I had noticed that my breathing was becoming very shallow. Consequently my voice production was affected and I was speaking quieter and quieter  "Pardon?" was becoming a horribly familiar phrase to me.

I became quite disheartened and depressed at the quite probable prospect of eventually losing my voice altogether and losing the ability to communicate completely. Communication has always been at the heart of my personality, whether working as an actor or in public relations or just in life in general. The prospect of being completely mute and unable to converse with my friends and family was a rather frightening vision of the future.

Then I found out that the Centre had been loaned a new machine called a 'Cough Assist' designed to help with breathing. It sounded like just what I needed so I decided to give it a go. After all, I had nothing to lose.

The machine works by pushing air into your lungs thereby making them inflate.  A face mask is connected to a small tabletop machine by a hose; the intensity of the air coming in and the timings between each breath are all carefully controlled by the operator. The machine also encourages expectoration through coughing thereby helping a person to clear the lungs of any catarrh build-up.

I used the machine once a week; during my treatment session. After only two uses I felt I was seeing some real improvement. What's more,  I found that the benefit was lasting well into the week. But what really pleased me was the the fact that I felt able to do some basic singing exercises once again. I used to do a lot of singing, but MS had effectively put a stop to all that. There is no way that I had enough breath for that. Consequently that these exercises seemed to help me to attempt a little singing again (albeit very croaky at first) was truly magical. It is impossible to feel sad when singing. It is therefore the most uplifting and joyful activity I can think of. To be able to do that again meant a lot to me.

The next step is for the Centre to look into the possibility of loaning me a machine so that I could use it more often. Should that prove beneficial then we may look for any available funding.  I would certainly be interested in owning a machine of my own.

So it seems that singing and speaking are inextricably linked. Doing some simple singing exercises seems to help me to speak better: this is where the Cough Assist machine seems to really help -  to get more air into my lungs.

It is still early days but to say that I am encouraged is a massive understatement. Once again the Centre has come to my rescue. The debt of gratitude that I owe the Centre by now must be bigger than the national deficit.

The gift of helping me to retain my speaking voice is an utterly priceless one

October 2014

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