After a laryngectomy there are many challenges and finding a new voice will usually near the top of the list. Using a voice prosthesis (or valve) is the current gold standard. Since my operation 15 years ago I have noticed a massive improvement in the quality of speech that is being achieved by patients using this method.
For some a valve is not a possibility due to the extent of surgery or effects of previous treatment such as radiotherapy. In such cases then an electrolarynx is an alternative method of speech, but some patients are very reluctant to use one. In the January edition of Whispers on the Web click here Donna McGarry (Between Friends) and Noirin Sheahan (Dear Lary) relate the diverse reactions they experience to their use of an electrolarynx.
I have met several patients who prefer to remain silent rather than use an electrolarynx, due to their fears about the reaction they will get. This includes the attention the device will attract when used in public places. This is a very sad situation and difficult to resolve.
Of course it is essential they are given a correctly adjusted device and trained in using it effectively and confidently. Equally valuable is the chance to meet someone who has used an electrolarynx successfully to enable them to get back to work or return to their favoured social activities. I am delighted to report that our local hospital encourages this good practice.