Once An Outie, Now An Innie, By Deb Eve

brownwaite_smallI am about as Extroverted as one can get. Or at least I used to be. Most people fall somewhere in between, having more extroverted or introverted tendencies, but having some of both. But not Eve! Nope, whenever tested, I’m always a total extrovert.

Or at least I should say, I was a total extrovert. Then a funny thing happened on the way to my first book tour. At just about the time that the publishing industry was hailing my “literary voice”, I began losing my actual voice. Two years later, it’s only gotten worse. And earlier this summer I was finally diagnosed with a rare condition called Muscle Tension Dysphonia which basically causes chronic laryngitis.

Let’s face it, there are far worse things you can lose than your voice (your mind, loved ones, livelihood, last functioning kidney all come to mind). But you’ve got to think the Universe has some sort of odd sense of humor when a person who needs to talk as much as I do loses her voice. And here’s something I never would have known: The change in my ability to talk has caused a change in my personality. This erstwhile social butterfly, who thrived in the spotlight, who once loved to be surrounded by people and talking up a storm, now hates all of that. I avoid bars, restaurants, crowds of people – because I can’t be heard above the din. And while I still love going to parties, more often I now find myself fading into the background hoping no one will come talk to me.

It’s been, and remains, quite a challenge to me. Especially while trying to promote FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA. While writing a book is pretty quiet, introverted stuff, promoting a book is ALL about being out there and talking about it. The very sort of thing that – mind you – up until two years ago would have been my very favorite thing to do, but now I dread! Does the Universe have a sense of irony or what?

But in true optimistic fashion (for I am an optimist as much as an extrovert), I’ve been able to see the positive in what’s happened to me. First of all, I haven’t yelled at my kids – or my husband – in more than two years. And, for them at least, that has got to be a very good thing. Second, I’ve become a better listener and far more compassionate and aware of other people who are struggling with some sort of ailment or disability of their own. I think I’ve mellowed in my quest for perfection (well, a bit anyway), as I’ve come to recognize that I – and just about everyone else out there – is doing the best they can with whatever they’ve got going on.

And I’ve come to think that this whole strange an unexpected journey that I find myself on now might be worth writing about. Why not? I can hardly talk about it!

~Deb Eve

P.S. Want to hear what I mean? Okay, here’s a link to a public radio commentary I did a few years ago. Yes, that’s my voice as it was! Now, here’s a link to a recent radio interview I did on the John Carney Show at KMOX. Yup, that’s my voice as it is now!

5 Replies to “Once An Outie, Now An Innie, By Deb Eve”

  1. This is my husband’s dream come true–that I should lose my voice and not be able to shout….If he reads this, he’ll probably start trying to induce this condition in me.

  2. I didn’t know you “before,” but I can attest that you’re a riveting speaker even with the condition. And about the book tour–I can feel a sequel coming on… FIRST COMES BESTSELLER, THEN COMES LARYNGITIS…

  3. What a stressful thing to go to without a diagnosis. I was having issues with my voice earlier this year, and it definitely changed the way I interacted with people. I found myself speaking in shorter sentences and listening more–probably a good thing overall, but I was sort of shocked when I actually took stock and noticed the adjustments my subconscious had made.

  4. It is kind of amazing how the body and mind adapts to things – even without our knowledge, Katie. Which is actually part of the problem with my type of dysphonia, but I won’t even go there. It has been stressful, but not because I was without a diagnosis. I actually knew what I had very early on. Remember, I have a health background and I’m a bit of a medical research wonk. I knew what I had. It took me two years to find a doctor who was familiar enough with this rare condition to know what he was looking at! That was frustrating as hell.

    Yes, Tiffany, there are folks who think this must be a dream come true for my family. But, trust me, it isn’t. Mommy might be quieter now, but she’s also crankier!

    Larramie, that’s kind of you to say. I have known people who use the quiet voice tactic (teachers even) to get folks to listen. It’s just never been my way.

    Meredith, the working title of this memoir is “HEAR ME OUT: WHAT I DID WHEN THE UNIVERSE MADE ME SHUT UP!” What do you think?

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