25
Oct
0

Cartoonist, Heal Thyself

Dilbert BlogI didn’t realize it until I read his blog earlier today, that Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, lost his voice more than a year ago due to a rare condition called Spasmodic Dysphonia.

Essentially a part of the brain that controls speech just shuts down in some people, usually after you strain your voice during a bout with allergies (in my case) or some other sort of normal laryngitis. It happens to people in my age bracket.

I asked my doctor – a specialist for this condition – how many people have ever gotten better. Answer: zero.

The weirdest part of this phenomenon is that speech is processed in different parts of the brain depending on the context. So people with this problem can often sing but they can’t talk. In my case I could do my normal professional speaking to large crowds but I could barely whisper and grunt off stage. And most people with this condition report they have the most trouble talking on the telephone or when there is background noise. I can speak normally alone, but not around others.

How strange is that? But wait, it gets stranger… Scott noticed just a few days ago that he could speak perfectly in rhyme.

I repeated it dozens of times, partly because I could. It was effortless, even though it was similar to regular speech. I enjoyed repeating it, hearing the sound of my own voice working almost flawlessly. I longed for that sound, and the memory of normal speech. Perhaps the rhyme took me back to my own childhood too. Or maybe it’s just plain catchy. I enjoyed repeating it more than I should have. Then something happened.

My brain remapped.

My speech returned.

Not 100%, but close, like a car starting up on a cold winter night. And so I talked that night. A lot. And all the next day. A few times I felt my voice slipping away, so I repeated the nursery rhyme and tuned it back in. By the following night my voice was almost completely normal.

How cool is that?

I still don’t know if this is permanent. But I do know that for one day I got to speak normally. And this is one of the happiest days of my life.

I highly suggest going to Scott’s blog and reading the whole story for yourself. Scott’s an interesting character in his own right. I hope he’s found his way back to his voice again for good.

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