I can't get no satisfaction
'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can't get no, I can't get no
I Can't Get No) Satisfaction lyricsSongwriters: Jagger, Mick; Richards, Keith;
Have you sometimes felt dissatisfied after leaving therapy? Voice sounds great while you're with the therapist, and minutes later while conversing with your spouse, the chorus begins: "What did you say?"
From your spouse's point of view, who minutes ago heard you speaking louder and clearer, it may now appear that you are: " just not trying hard enough," "you're lazy", "you're not motivated," or the assortment of other complaints I often hear. In the meantime, you hang your head in shame and semi-resolve that maybe you can't make these changes that are being demanded of you, and whisper: "I'll try".
So why is it so hard to retain the improvements in speech and voice when on your own?
There is probably no one answer that fits everyone, but a few possibilities include: you can't remember what to do, you can't focus on your speech and your thoughts at the same time, it doesn't feel natural to be speaking differently than you are now accustomed, you haven't yet created a new habit, and so on. Thirty days of voice treatment may simply not be enough time to change a voice habit that has been established over several years, and that is now shaped by a voice instrument not so easily played.
One of the biggest hurdles for most of my patients with voice changes from Parkinson's disease is making the transition from a treatment/therapy setting to everyday use of their voice. The same patient who can register 80dB on the sound level meter when in treatment, may barely be heard above the background noise of the car engine on the drive home.
I often tell me patients that voice practice is like going to the driving range to improve your golf game. It may help you to hit the ball harder and further, but if you never actually get on a golf course and play, you will never really be able to master the varying terrain and obstacles of a golf course. Similarly, if you diligently do your 30 minutes or so of voice practice every morning after breakfast while sitting at the kitchen table, but then don't talk again until dinner, it is unlikely that you will implement the change you desire.
Daily communication takes us over many varying terrain. We converse with familiar and unfamiliar people, in quiet and noisy environments, in settings where we may feel hurried or pressured to speak, on cell phones, in the car, and some of us, even in our sleep! Before your diagnosis of Parkinson's and before you developed changes in your voice and speech you likely never gave much thought to all of this. Your voice, like the rest of your body was operating in automatic mode, and you easily made those shifts in voice from conversational with your friends, to loud at the ballpark, and quiet in the movie theatre.
Creating daily opportunities to converse with familiar and unfamiliar people in an out of your home is going to be an important aspect of your overall improvement. All the speech therapy in the world will be of little benefit if you sit home watching TV all day. Joining a group that centers around an interest you may have, such as photography or bridge may help you stay motivated. Even walking around the mall, talking to various retail personnel will provide you with real world practice.
Upon completion of voice therapy , a patient of mine asked: "do I have to keep doing these exercises forever?" My short answer, "yes". As long as Parkinson's is lurking around in the background of your life, you must continue to do some daily voice practice, but, more importantly, stay engaged in life by communicating with those around you.