As a professional public speaker, used to addressing conferences of up to 200 people, I was understandably very concerned when my voice box stopped creating sound consistently. The start of a sentence would sound strong but it could collapse to a whisper within seconds. I was also aware that my speech was no longer as clear as it had previously been – I was beginning to occasionally slur my words. An Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) consultant said that it might be a sign that I had Parkinson’s disease. The neurologist confirmed he was right. This came as a complete bolt out the blue.
Being someone who had always been very proactive, I decided to see if there was anything I could do to improve my speech and voice. Fortunately, a quick Google told me that speech therapy could help, and, even better, there was someone nearby in Hampshire who worked with people who have Parkinson’s disease.
I contacted Celia and I explained that I am a professional public speaker. She asked me what my goals of therapy would be, and I told her that I wanted to be able to continue to be able to talk to my wife and children when we are all together, and not become an observer in their lively conversations. When Celia asked whether I wanted to continue speaking at conferences I explained that I felt that that was no longer important to me – that my family were paramount. Celia explained that if we did work together, that her goals would be that I could continue to contribute to those family conversations, but that also if I wanted to continue presenting at conferences, that I could. That if I chose not to, it would be as a result of me no longing wanting to do them, rather than not being able to as a result of my voice and speech.
Celia explained that there were two options – weekly sessions, and the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT Loud). Within four weeks I had started the LSVT Loud programme – and within a matter of days I began to see results.
It is fair to say that the results have been fantastic – and beyond what I had imagined possible.
How fantastic? I am now, once again, regularly presenting at conferences and was described by a colleague, who knows of my diagnosis and recently heard me speak to a room of 200 delegates, as ‘being on fire’!
I do not believe this would have happened without Celia’s support. She is thoroughly professional, rightly challenging and hugely encouraging.
And the lively family conversations – I am right there in the middle of them!