A laryngectomy is a major surgical procedure with life-changing consequences. Afterwards, how do patients measure the extent to which they have have recovered and adjusted to their new situation?
At a NALC Patient Day, in Blackburn in June, two patients gave inspirational talks on their journey. For one, developing good valve speech was a must and he was successful, but not without some big problems which were solved with the support of his dedicated SLT. For the another getting back to work, being productive again, was the key.
Last Saturday, August 8th, Annie Humphries contributed to the Radio 4 programme Saturday Live. She has become involved with a choir of alaryngeal voices, part of a project run by Dr Thomas Moors at Addenbrokes Hospital, Cambridge. For Annie, this meant she was focusing on what she could do rather than what she could no longer do, which tends to dominate the attention of laryngectomees. The programme is available of the i-player and a podcast will probably be available to download on the Radio 4 website for some time.
These stories illustrate for me the key point that patients are different, they have varying needs and interests. There is no one size fits all solution and it is vital clinicians recognise this. For me getting back to my job as a teacher was important. I did so using an electrolarynx, which gave me a better voice than my voice prosthesis. To hear some eminent physicians, use of an electrolarynx is second-best. Not for me!!!!!!