Saturday, October 26, 2013

Stroke Recovery: An unjoyful noise

Three of us were recently singing Happy Birthday to another family member via cell phone.  Suddenly a raucous off-key sound marred the ending. I was startled then horrified. 

I was the source of that noise!

Under pointed questioning, Husband Walter admitted that my “singing” had been that way ever since my stroke. He explained that he didn’t tell me earlier because he wanted me to enjoy singing as long as I could.

But what about those poor people around me whose ears I assaulted?

There was a sense of loss. But I can join in our church’s songs of worship SILENTLY, and that is still worship.

After that conversation I wondered if I might lose my voice all together as an effect of stroke. I wouldn’t like that, either. I love to talk.

Anna, gifted, gracious and thorough speech therapist

But an evaluation by Anna, a speech therapist at my neuro rehab center, put my fears to rest on that possibility. She said that most likely my pattern of breathing has changed, and I am not pushing adequate air through those vocal cords consistently. At least, I think that is something like what she said.

She gave me breathing exercises to use my “breathing muscles” and give me more control over the strength of my voice.

After I plowed through several Internet articles on the anatomy of breathing and singing, I was amazed at the number of muscles and their complicated interaction involved in breathing. 

Now I better understand. Of course there were breathing changes due to stroke. I assume the stroke zapped those “breathing muscles” on my left side along with all the others that were affected.

The exercises are already making a difference in the strength of my speaking voice. But one other exercise I have added to what Anna assigned is to limit my out-loud singing to times when I am home alone.

That exercise is mandated by the scriptural command to love thy neighbor!


  1. Sorry to hear about your voice, but knowing your stickability you will make a good job of strengthening muscles and so forth. Incidentally, because of breathing problems and hypertension, I sit in church and that enables me to sing a little - but very softly. FREDA from Dalamory

  2. this is sad, but your stroke did not harm you humor at all. i laughed long and loud at the closing they neighbor is hilarious.. maybe the breathing will help you with the singing. hope so.. you can always get a little recording of Happy birthday and play it for them.

  3. I have never heard of this, I am sorry. I also never knew that stroke changes your breathing pattern this long afterwards. Well, it has not changed your hearing, and you are well otherwise. I hope these exercises will help. Walter made a wise decision! I love singing out really loud in church, and I think now that you know about it and are working on it, it will come back, like so much else has come back for you.

  4. You are so sweet to put a somewhat humorous spin on this loss of singing ability. My singing leaves a lot to be desired, and our worship band is LOUD so I can sing along quietly. Your therapy sounds like it will have excellent results.

  5. Don't feel bad. David graduated with a degree in music education, but when he sings karaoke, he is always off key. Lol.

  6. As someone who lip syncs Happy Birthday, I feel your pain and totally understand "love thy neighbor."
    Still it is much harder to have been rich in voice to suddenly become poor. I have always been poor. I do hope the exercises give you back an acceptable singing voice. If not, lip syncing works well.
    Walter continues to shine.

  7. I might have mentioned that I had the same issue. A speech therapist told me she could help, but I never could sing anyway. Dianne

  8. Just lovely pumpkins, but even better, wonderful new voice. I too had to go to a speech therapist. It's certainly fascinating stuff. Get stronger fast.

  9. Don't feel too bad, Linda. I can't carry a tune in a bucket. Glad to hear that the exercises are helping your voice though :)

  10. I admire your stick-to-it attitude. It's wonderful that there are speech therapists who can help with the breathing exercises.
    Keep at it and
    Make a Joyful Noise.