Life on many levels can be difficult and challenging, whether one has Parkinson’s disease (PD) or not. The added challenge of PD only accentuates the necessity of taking better care of oneself. It is when we neglect ourselves or fail to listen to the cues presented by those around us that we miss important and even life-changing messages that need addressing.
The older I get, the more I am beginning to believe that things happen in life for a reason. My belief is that somewhere in the happening there is a nugget of wisdom to be mined. There may be an appearance of randomness to our lives but in reality there really is true order. Coincidences are often messages of unfinished business that may need to be addressed.
Several years ago, a friend put me in touch with a Speech Language Pathologist, named Samantha Elandary. Samantha founded what is now the Parkinson Voice Project, in Dallas, Texas, formerly the Texas Voice Project. When I had returned from Dallas almost 7 years ago, I found my voice had improved from just a few days of therapy. Time passed, and this year I ran into Samantha twice at 2 different Parkinson’s events. At the second event, she told me about how her voice program had evolved and she invited me to Dallas to see and experience the power of her voice program. As one who is fluently challenged, at times and speaks publicly, I accepted her offer to improve my speech, fluency, and loudness.
I have been accused of being hyperbolic with my words on several occasions but what I saw for others as well as myself is nothing short of miraculous. People with PD and soft or weak voices were regaining their lost voice. How easily we discount the importance of voice, inflection, and the self-esteem that is attached to being heard and understood. The Parkinson Voice Project is fighting to help people with PD regain and maintain their identity and their voice.
What I saw for myself was an increase in volume, improved clarity, and a fluency that I had not seen for years. I saw people in the Parkinson Voice Project center smile with pride as their voice came back and tears of joy from their care-partner because now their spouse could be heard. The old saying that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone is true, especially in this case and for many of us if we don’t pay close attention we won’t realize that something needs fixing. For me, I am so grateful to hear such a dramatic change in my speech. I can also speak for my wife that she is so happy not to ask me to repeat myself.