June 2010




Name Of Column Author Title Article Type
News Views Pat Sanders A New Take On Pill-Splitting News & Events
VoicePoints Philip C. Doyle, PhD CCC-SLP Expanding Our Role Education-Med
WebWhispers Columnist Randy Weinke Skydiving Experience
Between Friends Donna McGary Nana’s Voice Commentary
Practically Speaking Elizabeth Finchem Mentoring Matters Education 
My Neck Of The Woods Parnell Stratton That's Normal Experience
The Speechless Poet Len Hynds War Games Prose & Poetry
New Members Listing Welcome News & Events





A New Take on Pill-splitting


Many years ago, we learned to buy pills in double potency and cut them in half to save money. We wrote "hints" to friends, clubs, and newsletters and other people wrote into AARP or the local newsletter. It was a great find and recommended by everyone.

An example is copied here from a recent newsletter from Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs that recommends Pill-splitting:
"Pill-splitting saves money because pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies often charge nearly the same amount for a particular medicine regardless of its dose. For example, a once-a-day drug may cost $100 for a month’s supply of both a 100mg dose and a 50mg dose. Thus, if your doctor prescribes the 50mg pill, it’ll cost you $100. But if he prescribes the 100mg pill and instructs you to cut it in half, $100 will buy you two months worth of medicine. If you take several medicines, that kind of savings can mount up. Not surprisingly, many insurance companies are in favor of pill-splitting because it saves them money, too. Your employer may like the idea for the same reason. Some insurance companies now provide you with a list of approved drugs to split."

"This series is produced by Consumers Union and Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs, a public information project supported by grants from the Engelberg Foundation and the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health. The project’s free Web site is www.CRBestBuyDrugs.org."

I have for years taken a prescription med for cholesterol, cut in half to save on the cost. I just took in a new script from my doc. I had already noted that Crestor was now considered on my AARP Medicare-D RX as a Tier 2 drug, as of this year, and the price was $42.

When I picked it up, the total was $84 because they said it was 60 days worth of medication. There were 30 pills and they were charging me for 60 doses while forcing me to cut them in half myself.

I called the AARP Medicare-D RX and was told that that it did not seem right and they didn't blame me for being upset but the guy assured me that in the two years he had been there, he had never seen a similar complaint and he said my doc needed to be asked to write the scripts for 30 days @ one-a-day.

I have since been on the telephone with the AL Department of Insurance, Consumer Services, and they are sending forms to be filled out to file my complaint. They were very interested over the telephone but had never received a complaint like this one. She said she could probably get my $42 back. I told her that was fine but what I wanted was for this to be stopped. People are being cheated and don't even know it. If I had not looked up the new price on the Crestor, I would have thought it was still Tier 3 and had gone up in price.

I have been by my Doctors office, talked to the nurse and she was stunned that this had caused me to be charged double.

I discussed this with the Walgreen's pharmacist who tells me they have lots of scripts coming in marked that way but no one ever complained. (NO ONE complained about being charged double!!) I got a copy of the original script from him. I told him, I was doing exactly what I had been doing for years but if I stayed with this system, now would have to pay $252 a year more for the medication I don't get. He insinuated that this was fraud if a doctor writes a prescription and knows you are taking it another way...when all I want to do is buy 30 pills and use them as needed and as discussed with my doctor. The pharmacist told me that he is required by the insurance company to mark the number of days this is for.

Lots of curiosity? Where does the extra money go? Does the pharmacy show on their books that they sold 30 Crestor at $42 and collected an additional $42 because of how I am going to take them? Does Medicare RX pay Walgreens for dispensing 30 pills or 60? Do they pay them less because they were charging for 60 days and only giving me 30 pills? Does Walgreens have a $42 overage in their cash drawer? Or does the Insurance company cut what they pay Walgreens because they already collected more from me?

Mind you, I pay $40.90 per month for the AARP Medicare-D RX insurance so I can get drugs cheaper and cover overage should I need it.

I don't think it is working for me! How is it for you?


Pat W Sanders
WebWhispers President



VoicePoints written by professionals 

Coordinated by Meaghan Kane Benjamin, M.A., CCC-SLP





Clinical Speech-Language Pathology:
Expanding Our Role in Post Laryngectomy Care

Philip C. Doyle, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery
Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry
University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, Canada


The literature in the area of postlaryngectomy communication rehabilitation and care is long standing and, although seldom realized, quite extensive. In fact, work in this area of clinical practice was one of the first to be realized by the founders of speech pathology. In addition to clinical service to those who experienced communication difficulties secondary to stroke (e.g, aphasia, apraxia, and the dysarthria), laryngectomy rehabilitation provided the foundation of much of the early work related to acquired communication disorders. If one looks back into this historical literature there is a prominent focus on the restoration of "alaryngeal" speech.

Early works by Jack Snidecor, Warren Gardner, William Dietrich and Karl Youngstrom, Shirley Salmon, Jim Shanks, Marshall Duguay, and others have offered considerable insights into the vast array of concerns that pertain to total laryngectomy and the consequences of surgical treatment for laryngeal cancer. However, up until 1980 with the introduction of tracheoesophageal (TE) voice restoration by Dr. Mark Singer and Dr. Eric Blom, the available methods of voice and speech rehabilitation consisted solely of esophageal speech and use of the electronic artificial larynx. Accordingly, the literature from the 1950s into the modern era has been replete with information on speech rehabilitation. There has been a more dominant presence over the past 30 years into issues specific to TE speech. Regardless of the mode of laryngeal speech, the clinical literature has by necessity been dominated by a desire to restore verbal communication to those who have lost their larynx due to cancer. The rehabilitation of functional levels of speech in those who undergo laryngectomy is essential if rehabilitation is to be achieved at a most basic level. However, current practice has suggested an exceedingly important need to carefully consider other factors in the hope of optimizing post laryngectomy rehabilitation outcomes.

The prominence of voice and speech rehabilitation to those in Speech-Language Pathology is obvious and remains an essential and critical area of clinical practice. However, as the years have progressed, the focus on speech has required clinicians in this area of practice to look beyond solely voice and speech issues. That is, there has been an increasing desire to consider broader care issues that influence ones well-being and quality of life. Doing so provides the clinician, whether it be those new to the area or those who have practiced for many years, with a broader understanding of the myriad issues that the individual who has been laryngectomized and experiences and must deal with an array of associated changes over the rest of his or her life. With new treatment protocols such as chemoradiation therapy and the array of complications, toxicities, and long-term morbidities that emerge, it is my belief that the ability of the Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) to serve as the "keystone" of care will provide great value to those who are laryngectomized.

In 1994 I wrote that if the Speech-Language Pathologist is to fill their clinical role fully, they may be called upon to provide, interpret, and facilitate information to the individual who has been treated for laryngeal cancer, as well as to members of his or her family. If we are truly specialists in communication, then it is incumbent upon us to see our role as being much broader than solely being the "speech therapist". With this suggestion at the forefront of this brief communication, I would like to make some initial suggestions for expanding our clinical roles for those who have undergone total laryngectomy. By doing so, I firmly believe that the benefit will be realized in both the short- and long-term by those who are treated for laryngeal cancer and members of their family. The SLP can ultimately serve to enhance the lives of those we work with the goal of seeking to enhance ones well-being and quality of life in the face of numerous post laryngectomy challenges.

I believe it is fair and not unreasonable to say that SLPs are educated and trained to be keen observers of behavior. However, because SLPs have a focus on communication, broadly defined, they often find themselves involved in other details and concerns that overlay and impact one's perceived quality of life. Ultimately, SLPs are in the business of optimizing quality of life and the fullest possible participation within a broad social context. While the term "quality of life" is an omnibus term that covers a vast array of functions and subsequent limitations to multiple functional domains (e.g., physical, psychological, social, emotional, etc.), the composite capabilities across these domains cut to the core of an individuals ability to achieve a successful outcome. A successful speech outcome is only one part of the individuals successful post laryngectomy rehabilitation; in the absence of considering the larger picture of well-being, the likelihood of the fullest rehabilitation success cannot be achieved. For that reason, over the past years our working group in head and neck cancer rehabilitation has come to include additional tasks as part of our regular and ongoing care. The decision to pursue this expanded approach to patient care was undertaken because my observations over the years suggest that SLPs may have the most regular contact with those who are laryngectomized and family members. Although sometimes brief, these interactions provide an excellent opportunity to find out how things are progressing, if problems have been experienced with voice, speech, and communication, or more importantly, if problems exist in other areas. That is, simple questions and careful observation can provide valuable information for both the individual receiving care and the professionals who provide it.

Initial observation of the individual's general appearance is key and provides the ideal starting point to assess any concerns. One does not need to be a mind reader, but one does need to be an active and keen observer of behaviour and an even better listener. For example, is weight loss apparent or is an unusual level of fatigue clearly observable? Is the individual's breathing labored? If so, a few simple questions are in order; seeking direct information on a report or observation of weight loss, etc. may then naturally move to other related inquiries about appetite, their ability to eat and swallow efficiently, etc. Similarly, unusual levels of fatigue may be related to physical issues and/or other factors such as the presence of distress or depression. Although the expertise to address such issues is not within the realm of the SLP, it is her/his responsibility to make sure that appropriate referral and follow-up is pursued if problems are identified. Again, simple observation and appropriate and careful questioning may provide important information in a very time and cost efficient manner. But further explorations as part of regular follow up with those who are laryngectomized can also occur. Careful observations ultimately guide the extended process of clinical interaction and follow-up.

More specifically, the use of generic and/or site specific quality of life measures (either in part or whole) and symptom screening tools can be easily utilized to identify problems early and determine the duration of time the problem has existed. This information gathering process is iterative, but straightforward. I have routinely used questions contained within such measures to determine if any problems are present that require medical follow-up. For example, issues of pain or unusual discomfort, nausea, the presence of worry, sleep disturbances, inability to perform household tasks, etc. can be easily and quickly addressed using questions from a variety of standard instruments. It must be pointed out here that questions from such instruments need not be asked in their entirety; questioning can be comprehensive, but informal. However, key questions may offer insights into an early or emerging problem. When a family member is present, other issues may come forward as well. Over the past decade, we have explored the clinical use of tools such as the Rotterdam Symptom Checklist (RSCL), the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Screen (ESAS), and the Brief Distress Inventory (BDI) in an effort to identify problems that may have not been noted if solely verbal communication was the only focus of our clinical interactions.

Ultimately, it is my opinion that SLPs are deeply immersed in a broad range of issues that impact those treated for head and neck cancer in general, and those treated for laryngeal cancer specifically. The reacquisition of voice and speech comprises only one component of long-term rehabilitation post laryngectomy success. Going beyond the basics provides the possibility that the individual can work toward idealized well-being and improved quality of life. The ability to expand our individual care, and seek to offer comprehensive care whenever possible, can be facilitated with consideration of other factors that clearly impact well-being and quality of life. If one desires the best possible outcome following treatment, the ability of the SLP to provide a broadened scope of observation and interactions specific to issues that underlie improved well-being and quality of life is essential. Our clinical roles are broader than we may think and our ability to foster and optimize post laryngectomy rehabilitative outcomes can be of great benefit to those we serve.

In closing, while communication will always be at the forefront of services provided by the SLP, the ability to really communicate with those we serve holds tremendous potential to identify problems, seek collaborative solutions, and consequently, work to the goal of living the fullest life possible in the post laryngectomy period.






By Randy Weinke


"I went skydiving...
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu."

These lyrics from Tim McGraw's hit song, "Live like you were dyin'", became my Cancer fight song. I had rewritten the last two lines to fit my own life story and while planning for this year's winter vacation in Mexico, I found a place to go skydiving.

No, this is not my bucket list...nor have I totally lost it...actually something I've always wanted to do ever since my time in the Marine Corps. Only thing is, the recruiter forgot to mention that, once in Corps, they told me what to do, not I told them what I wanted to do! Young & dumb may apply here. :)

So I posted on WebWhispers for anyone with Skydiving info; contacted a couple drop zones about a neckbreather skydiving and after a little research confirmed it was doable. I emailed the place in Mexico to make sure they had no problems with me jumping...and we were set to go.

Now there is a prelude to this event. When I was diagnosed with Cancer our daughter called and said she'd be picking us up Saturday morning for a Road Trip of unknown destination? We ended up going Bungee jumping...so I knew, if I could jump head first off a platform 130 feet high towards asphalt with a giant rubber band attached to my ankles, then sky diving would be a breeze.

Finally the day was here. Now, our daughter's boyfriend was going with me and actually the night before he had proposed so now he was my future son in law. So the joke of the morning was "Does jumping have anything to do with getting married?"

After a short delay due to wind conditions, we were set to go. As we received final instructions, the pilot came out and I was about to get a taste of my own medicine. This plane had caused my wife more worries than I had and I had been throwing out jokes about.... they use nothing but best duct tape on the plane, or they haven't lost anyone in months, or the pilot only failed his test the first few times. So, as a firm believer of what goes around, comes around, I was about to get slapped in the face. The pilot introduced himself and then reached in the plane to pull out and put on a parachute...what?? Who's flying if he jumps?

But the adrenaline kicks back in and we are taking off. Now, the biggest surprise for me was how long it took to reach 10,000 ft. It seemed like forever. You could see the streets and blue waters but then they faded into a blur and soon it was just blue skies.
Soon my instructor taps me and says, "Are you ready?" I give a thumbs up (I had put my Servox away.)

He says, "I going to open the door & it will be noisy". As he opens the door, I am amazed at the noise? So that's what 130 mph sounds like?  In this plane you did not just jump out. You actually had to step out on a ledge under the wing with your instructor on your back. So I pivot out on one leg and now another surprise....he tells me I have to let go of handle to put my second leg outside but "Don't worry." he says "I've got you." I believe that is my new definition of trust.

Here I am standing on 6 inch ledge under the wing at 130 mph at over 10,000 ft. Ahh, what a ride? But what a rush...IDIOT!

Now we summersault into the blue yonder...he taps me on the shoulder and yells "Are you ok?" A double thumbs up!!!!!!!! The wind is so strong it sucks my cheeks back. Now the chute opens....so soon? I was really enjoying that free fall!

He taps me again to say I can remove my goggles and ask if I'm ok. My "thumbs up" were so excited, he probably thought I was in convulsions? I think maybe for first time since surgery, I wished I had my voice back so I could yell with joy & excitement. The blue blur now starts to clear..there is the Island of Cozumel....the blue waters now show the white sand beaches. Streets appear..now cars....now people on the beach appear as dots. My instructor taps me again and ask for me to hold top harness & can I plank my legs up. Can I hold that? Thumbs up!! When I tap you next do that and I will set you right down on the sandy beach???

And he did just that.

When asked how it was? Much more of a rush as adrenaline really kicked in for me. May be a great way to flush any plaque build up out of your veins? I envisioned more of a surreal flying like a bird atmosphere...but maybe next time?

So my own version goes like this...

I went sky diving;

I went Appalachian mountain four wheeling;

I went six months without talking.

Someday I hope you get a chance to live like you were dyin'






Nana’s Voice

Several months ago I wrote about my concerns that my grand-daughter Kayleigh’s language and speech development might be hampered by my “voice”, a Servox, since at the time I was the primary “day care”. I was reassured by many that it would not be a problem and to just relax and enjoy being a Nanny/Granny. I am here to say, you were all right and I was just being a worry-wart. Miss Kayleigh is a veritable chatterbox and she thinks the Servox is pretty darn cool. One of her favorite games, now that she has mastered pushing buttons, is to make it “buzz” and then hold it to my neck…when I try to talk she pulls it away mischievously, so we see if I can get a word out first. As one friend noted, she probably wonders why everyone doesn’t have one of those cool toys. She clearly understands me although I can’t say she always listens!

As with so many other aspects of our new life, we adapt, along with our family and friends. And children, who are constantly discovering new things in the world around them, consider our differences just one more curiosity to be explored and mastered. I remember years ago, when I first joined WW, someone wrote in with a charming story about the little boy who was his next door neighbor. Apparently one night at dinner he had stuck a slice of American cheese on his neck and was talking, holding his finger over it, pretending to be his lary friend. [For this and more funny stories about us go to the WW site and under Library, click on How We Live- there is a section called Laryngectomee Humor or use this link:


I suspect that children who grow up around people who talk funny or breathe differently learn to accept all kinds of differences rather matter-of-factly. I have to admit I am not quite sure how to deal with the fact Kayleigh thinks it is hilarious to stick her finger in my trach tube, causing me to cough explosively. She even imitates me after! Don’t say cover it up- she has fully mastered the concept of object permanence and it is shiny, after all. Plus she is that stage where all orifices are fascinating and she sees no reason to believe that a graham cracker might not work just as well in an ear or a nostril as a mouth. Regardless of that little dilemma, I believe K is going to grow up accepting the fact that not everyone talks, walks, looks or thinks the same and that is just the way it should be.

I have a dear friend who just became a grandmother to twin girls. One of the girls was born with a cleft lip (thankfully the palate was not involved) but still a noticeable condition. She is going to be fine and has already had her first corrective surgery. One thing I loved was that the family never shied away from posting pictures of both Lina and Rose and I won’t tell you who was who. That is the point- both are beautiful baby girls.

The human condition is imperfect. Our children need to learn that. So do we, actually.

I dearly regret that I cannot read stories with the proper intonation…I loved to do all kinds of funny voices back in the day when my son was young. Kayleigh doesn’t seem to care, as long as I read to her. I have never been very coordinated so my biggest problem is juggling a squirming toddler while turning pages and getting a Servox to my neck long enough to say “Belly Button Beach”.

There are much worse things to worry about. Like if a Servox can survive an accidental dunk in the bath…toddlers are surprisingly fast.

But, I must say, there is no fool like an old fool and only a grandmother would haul a baby around in an old wheelbarrow using a Servox turned up full volume to call out, “All Aboard the Durham Express”…there are times that technology is actually quite useful! I have pictures to prove she loved it.

Not what I expected to be doing at this point in my life, but we don’t get to choose those things, sometimes. Now, I can’t wait to hear what she has to say about Nana’s voice.






Mentoring Matters

Recently I was asked to relate what helped me get through having a laryngectomy. As I thought about how to share some of my long story, I found myself focusing on three people who played key roles in my future as a laryngectomee.

What these three people have in common was brought to light for me as I listened to Bebe Neuwirth, Broadway star. During an interview she was asked to identify what helped her develop her talent. Her quick response was, “Bob Fosse, at my first audition…he saw me. I mean really saw me, and he knew how to draw on my potential.”

I can say the same about the three people I want to tell you about. They saw me. They were educated, professionals, authors, movers & shakers, yet, not one of them was a Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP). They were, however, well connected in our world of laryngectomee rehabilitation.

My first encounter with Robert (Bob) Keith was at Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, MN for my pre and post op counseling. Bob surprised me when he told me many years later that he hadn’t been an SLP, but rather an M.S. Associate, Speech Pathologist, Dept. of Neurology Section of Speech Pathology, Mayo Clinic, when I first met him there.

He gave me a copy of “Looking Forward” and “A Handbook for the Laryngectomee” that he wrote. Bob prepared me well for what was to come. No matter how prepared we might be, this much change all at once is disorienting for most of us.

While attending my first seminar at Mayo, I was introduced to the Larkel by Bob Keith and Dr. Damste, M.D., from the Netherlands. They told me about Martha Strasser and her work with the Larkel and laryngectomees in Munich, Germany. She is not a laryngectomee, but her husband was. He developed the Larkel and his club took on the project of making this equipment available at that time. Martha helped her husband with his esophageal speech, and together they taught it to others along with their other club activities. She planned conferences similar to those given at Mayo Clinic with some of the same faculty. Martha was already a widow when I met her for the first time at the IAL Voice Institute. Martha’s devotion to laryngectomee rehab was demonstrated when she attended many IAL meetings as a presenter.

Jane del Vecchio was a presenter in her grey suit and lacy blouse at my first IAL Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA. She delivered a great speech using esophageal speech. She was just what I needed to see and hear at that stage of my recovery. I knew what my goal was, but it was taking much longer that I had assumed it would. My spirits were flagging a bit. Jane took me under her wing and the next year recruited me to be in her Fun Show production. The following spring she invited me to attend her Atlanta, GA Voice Masters annual conference to help me plan my first statewide conference in Michigan set for early fall. I learned a lot from her. She served as President of the Voice Masters, wrote the IAL NEWS letter, and wrote the script and directed the IAL Fun Show for years. I had the privilege of playing in several memorable productions with her. She knew how to pull in the new members and put them on stage promptly. Jane was the kind of friend you could always call on for guidance. The IAL was fortunate to have her serve several years as Secretary and then as President.

There is a side note to include about Jane del Vecchio. When I met her I was influenced by her ability to deliver a speech using ES. As Jane aged she chose to include the TEP in her bag of tricks so she could continue to speak to large groups. It is interesting to note that the laryngectomees who met her while she used the TEP wanted to emulate her in that way. I see a similar “first meeting impression” if the visitor is using an electro larynx. The new patient seems to assume that is what rehabilitated laryngectomees do. I’ve witnessed this often enough to see a pattern. On the other hand, when all three methods of alaryngeal speech (EL, ES and TEP) are demonstrated skillfully the patient can see there are choices depending on their own situation. The next step is finding an SLP who can teach all three methods equally well, or a trained coach who can teach EL and ES, since TEP is a specialized procedure requiring a state license.

So, you see what has gotten me through more than three decades as a laryngectomee are my mentors who saw me, and my potential. They supported me with their friendship early on and are part of the very large network which supports me to this day.

Elizabeth Finchem





That's Normal

by Parnell Stratton

I've been asked to say a few words about being a carer/caregiver. I am a 12 year lary and took care of myself through it all because I was also a caregiver. My late spouse had MS and, also, had a couple of strokes that made her bedridden for five years before she blessedly passed on. These are some of the feelings I went through during those last five years of care giving.

During this time of caring for Marian, I went through many phases of emotions that, in hindsight, were normal for caregivers. Actually, some of them were Normal for a lary. Fear was one of them. Fear of the unknown is the biggest one out there. Will he/she survive the cancer/operation/recovery? Will I be able to cope with all the new information? Personally, I was not very fearful of my problems nor those of my spouse as I had some medical training, albeit more than 50 years ago, that allowed me to look at things as just another task that must be done.

Once the initial shock of hearing the word "cancer" subsides, the fear starts. If you have an understanding doctor, surgeon, ENT or GP, you will be given more information to help understand what is ahead for you. Of course, in this day and age, the internet is the best place to give you information you need. Sometimes, too much, and you have to learn to filter it!

During the first few weeks of caring for your loved one, you really wonder if you can do all the things that need to be done. Then, after you know you can, you wonder why the "patient" can't do these things for themselves and start to get a little angry about it. No appreciation for what is done! That's Normal!

Then, as time passes, everything runs along very smoothly, considering. It is when there are problems stemming from age, recurring cancer and just general difficulties that some of the other emotions surface.

First of all, "No problem, I'll do all I can to assist." You go about doing everything you can to make things easier for the patient. Then, after a while, it gets tedious and you start to get irritated at having to do this all the time. "Why did he/she do this to me?" is foremost in your thoughts. Then you get mad at yourself for even thinking that. Until the next time you think of it. That's Normal!

During this time, you can get depressed and may want to get checked out by your doctor before it gets worse. As the patient needs more care, the feelings get stronger in many ways and your love gets stronger at the same time that you get angrier at the person in your care. You keep wanting the end to come to ease the pain/difficulties they are having. Also, so you can get out from under the "burden" you are in. At the same time, you want them to get better so they will be around for a much longer time. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. That's Normal!

The one thing that needs to be remembered is that no matter how things finally turn out, you have done the best you could and have made it easier for your loved one to cope. And you have become stronger for it.






War Games

I had lied about my age saying I was fifteen, when fact only twelve, but being a big lad, I had been accepted into the Cadet branch of an Anti-Aircraft detachment of the Royal Regiment of Artillery. After training, I became a 'Runner' for one battery, those huge mobile guns that went onto the streets of London at night, firing almost continuously at the enemy bombers overhead.

A year later, after losing two homes, mum moved to a cottage in Yorkshire and I had to go with her, but I transferred my services to the Cadet Battallion of the Duke Of Wellington Light Infantry, retaining my rank acheived of Bombardier, but in the Infantry a Corporal. Thinking I was now 16, they sent me on all sorts of courses, Weapon Training, Unarmed Combat, Demolition, Camouflage, and the tender, but secret, age of 13 I obtained the War Certificate A, which entitled me to wear a red star pin the right sleeve of my uniform. A highly coveted prize for those of us who were being trained to be killers.

This story is about where six of us were chosen to act as German parachutists, and each of us were given the task of blowing up a bridge in the Aire Valley. The bridges were guarded by soldiers of the West Riding Regiment. It was quite obvious they had been warned as they were extremely alert. An Army lorry drove across the high moors above the valley, and at about 15MPH, in the dark, we had to jump out at half mile intervals and to roll-over in the heather to simulate a parachute drop. It was easy enough to avoid the patrols on the high moors, as the thick purple heather was waist high in places, but descending down the steep hill through the woods was more difficult as the slightest twig broken underfoot sounds terrific in the silence of the night.

I soon reached the valley bottom, and the River Aire, and my target was still about 400 yards away. I heard some talking of a patrol in the woods above me, and somebody on the other side of the river. I decided to walk in the river, keeping beneath the overhanging trees, and the depth varied considerably as I crept on. At last I could see my bridge in the moonlight, about 50 yards away, a stone built road bridge just South of Bingley. This was going to be difficult, as a sandbagged emplacement was at one end, and I saw the silhouettes of two soldiers peering up river. I had no doubt there were another two on the other side.

My real trouble was that the tree cover had ended. I took off my woollen parachutist’s hat, and silently scooping up drifting wood and small branches with still some leaves on, I threaded them into my hat, putting it back on my head, and walked carefully out a bit deeper into the river, still shielded by that last tree, but watching their silhouettes.
When I saw them light cigarettes, I knew their sight would be disorientated, and so walked beneath them, with all that floating rubbish on my head. When I got under the second arch, I could find nowhere to hang the haversack of explosives, as the walls were enormous stone blocks. With the spike on my army knife I slowly scraped away at the mortar, and eventually jamming the spike in, hung the haversack on that.

I continued down stream, still with my rubbish on, but climbing out, I was captured by a patrol, who appeared to be just lying in wait. I was prodded uncomfortably with a bayonet, and taken dripping wet to the sandbagged enclosure on the bridge. Eventually an umpire arrived, an officer in the Argylle and Sutherland Highlanders, wearing his kilt, and holding a long stick with a silver stag’s head on it.

He told me that I was now a Prisoner of War, and standing to attention I told him that I had already been under the bridge and the charges had been laid. He slithered down the bank, and came back smiling, saying, " You are still a prisoner, but I'm afraid now a dead one, like everybody else on this bridge. I declare it demolished."

Great Fun.................... Enough for now.




Welcome To Our New Members:


I would like to extend a "Warm Welcome" to our most recently accepted laryngectomees, caregivers, vendors, and professionals who have joined our WebWhispers community within this past month. There is a great wealth of knowledge and information to be accessed and obtained from our website, email lists, and newsletters. If ever there should be questions, concerns or suggestions, please feel free to submit them to us from the "Contacts" page of our website.


Thanks and best wishes to all,


Michael Csapo

VP Internet Activities

WebWhispers, Inc.


We welcome the 36 new members who joined us during May 2010:


John D'Alessandro
Whitehouse Station, NJ
Carla A. Duffles Teixera Aranega - (SLP)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Jerry G. Berkowitz
Ft. Worth, TX
Ibrahim Hussain Butt - (Caregiver)
United Arab Emirates
Mari Margret Burt
Fernandina Beach, FL
Dolores Corneiller
Lansing, IL
Ron DiBartolo
St. Louis, MO
Jason Fellion
Port St. Lucie, FL
John J. Fosberry lll
Charleston, SC
Bonnie Jo Gardner
Hinckley, UT
Sharon Grant - (Caregiver)
Sunrise, FL
Thomas W. Holder
Newport Beach, CA
Anne Hughes - (Caregiver)
Sun Lakes, Az
David Hughes
Sun Lakes, AZ
Patricia Jaracz - (Caregiver)
Lansing, IL
David Jaye
Iselin, NJ
Kay Mixson Jenkins - (Caregiver)
Springfield, GA
Marty Jenkins
Springfield, GA
Mike Lee Killingsworth
Blue Ridge, TX
Debbie Masko
Blakely, PA
Kimberly Mercer - (Caregiver)
Huntington Beach, CA
Jenny Norman - (Caregiver)
E. Alton, IL
Lola Rae Olson
Salem, OR
Roy Partlett
Oxford, UK
Bryan Rogers
Saline, MI
Fanny Roudieres - (SLP)
Martinique, France
Valerie Shepperd - (SLP)
Manitowoc, WI
Steven Shults
Pine Bluff, AR
Barbara J. Slauson
Woodbridge, VA
Marian Smith
Syracuse, NY
Jack Spieran
Ontario, CAN
Terry Stark
Traverse city, MI
Beverly Trabue - (Caregiver)
Dublin, OH
Aarne Vahtra
Toronto, Ontario, CAN
Evi Vahtra - (Caregiver)
Toronto, Ontario, CAN
Debbie VanNostran
Medina, OH



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