October 2010




Name Of Column Author Title Article Type
News Views Pat Sanders Alaska News & Events
VoicePoints Philip C. Doyle, Ph.D., CCC-SLP Speech Testing Education-Med
WebWhispers Columnist Ed Chapman Ed Chapman's Story Experience
Practically Speaking Elizabeth Finchem My Saturday Off Education 
My Neck Of The Woods Ginny Huffman Toughest Job Experience
The Speechless Poet Len Hynds British Cavalry Regiment Prose & Poetry
Tidbits Of Interest Jim, Donna,Mike, Calvin, Christine Comments To Last Month Experience
WotW Mailbox Judy Norris, Len Librizzi Granddaughters Acceptance Experience
P.S. John and Billie Sue Thompson Gospel DJ Experience
New Members Listing Welcome News & Events







Leaving Seattle and arriving Ketchikan, first stop in Alaska:




You can hardly find two places that are so different.  Each charming in it's own way and fascinating.  From the Seattle skyline to the charming shops and ramps at Creek Street in Ketchikan, Alaska.

We are home from a delightful visit with other WW members and their friends and families and a beautiful change of scenery up the inside passage.

We need time to get pictures from our travelers so that is scheduled for next month. Please send to editor@webwhispers.org.

Pat W Sanders
WebWhispers President



VoicePoints written by professionals 

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





Speech Intelligibility Testing:

A Continuing Need in Postlaryngectomy Speech

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


Speech intelligibility (SI) and its assessment has a long standing clinical history in the study of communication disorders. Interest in SI is common to a range of speech disorders and crosses developmental and acquired speech deficits that exist in both children and adults. Some of the earliest texts in the area of speech disorders had an almost singular focus on SI as the sole emphasis of treatment and the primary criterion for determining treatment efficacy. Although too numerous to mention in this brief report, it is important to acknowledge that multiple considerations and variables underlie valid measures of SI regardless of the clinical population of interest. However, it is clear that SI is a common and important index of clinical change in a variety of clinical populations.

Briefly, SI can be defined as the amount of information that a listener can recover from the speech signal (Kent, 1993). Further, SI is typically based on the overall level of accuracy with which a normally-hearing listener (either lay observer or clinician) can understand the information presented by the speaker or communicative partner. In order to quantify the efficiency of information transfer via speech, the level of accuracy that defines SI can be assessed in numerous ways. This has usually included quantifying the listener's identification of isolated speech sounds (consonants and/or vowels) contained within single words, or through judgments of sentence stimuli. Additionally, overall scaled judgments at the global level of speech performance also can be obtained as a gross means of documenting a speaker's SI. Thus, SI finds its critical salience in the fact that it links the speaker and the listener.

Because of the critical importance of SI as an index of treatment success subsequent to communication intervention and its use in documenting clinical change and progress, considerable efforts directed toward establishing standard approaches for measuring SI have been pursued in both clinical and laboratory environments. One of the best established areas of inquiry specific to SI in adult disorders can be found in the literature related to the dysarthrias. Much of this work was borne from a merger between formal speech science inquiry and the more functional product of speech that is generated by the speaker and ideally perceived accurately by the listener. By doing so, SI serves to document the ability for a desired message to be verbally encoded by the speaker (a physical and acoustic event) and accurately detected by another person; it forms the core of successful verbal communication Despite the apparent simplicity of the term SI by definition alone, the "structural" anatomical and dynamic physiological link between the generation of the speech signal and its perception provides considerable challenges to the clinician. Thus, seeking to clinically assess SI remains valid a concern for a variety of populations including those who are treated for laryngeal cancer, with a particular level of importance to those who have undergone total laryngectomy. Yet at present no standard approach to SI assessment in those who are laryngectomized exists.

Challenges to Postlaryngectomy Assessment of SI

Changes in SI secondary to total laryngectomy have been addressed in the literature for more than 50 years with all methods of postlaryngectomy alaryngeal voice/speech production (esophageal, artificial laryngeal, and tracheoesophageal puncture). The clinical/experimental methods reported are diverse, stimuli extremely varied, and outcomes characterized by substantial within- and between-subject variability. This observed variability provides further support for the need to develop a standardized approach to assessing SI in this population. However, concerns specific to the intelligibility of the postlaryngectomy speaker have waned to some degree in recent years. One of the factors that has contributed in part to a reduction in pursuing more formal assessments of postlaryngectomy SI has occurred since the introduction of the tracheoesophageal puncture (TEP) voice restoration method (Singer & Blom, 1980). While TEP voice restoration has arguably been an important and extremely viable advance in postlaryngectomy voice and speech rehabilitation, it also has carried unintended limitations relative to the process of clinical care. These limitations, particularly relative to SI, would to some extent appear to be a direct by-product of the level of general success that has been witnessed with the TEP technique and the subsequent advances in the area of surgical-prosthetic voice restoration over the past 30 years.

As a point of reference, in many instances TEP voice restoration is characterized by the relatively rapid reacquisition of "fluent" speech that often approximates a normal speech rate. All clinicians will recall the first time they observed or directly participated in the successful placement of a voice prosthesis and the voice "restoration" that was achieved, often in a rather instantaneous manner! However, this dramatic restoration of voice and speech also may carry with it an unintended, inadvertent lack of attention to broad and fundamental aspects of effective speech communication; namely, that of progressively optimizing one's SI in the postlaryngectomy period. Simply stated, when verbal communication is "restored" after it is lost in its entirety as a result of treatment for laryngeal cancer, one can easily neglect to attend to SI in a more specific and systematic manner.

For example, the critical need for the clinician to instruct the patient in how TEP works, how to maintain, clean, and monitor the integrity of the voice prosthesis, attend to stoma hygiene, utilize complimentary devices such as heat and moisture exchange (HME) systems, to name just a few of the required elements of clinical care, certainly demands timely attention. But the level of precedence this type of service assumes may directly limit other aspects of clinical speech treatment. Similar examples can be found with other modes of alaryngeal speech and, thus, the problem of not having time for more comprehensive considerations of SI is not an isolated event. It must be stated explicitly that this is not the fault of the clinician, but an outgrowth of the demands clinicians face on a daily basis; too much is demanded of many clinicians and time-based priorities must be set.

When the array of clinical demands noted above is coupled with the frequently short periods of time that clinicians have to work on so many things and do so with ever-expanding caseloads, essential but often excessive paperwork, as well as the watchful eyes of administrators, interest in and time for assessing SI and potentially seeking to enhance it over time may become a much lower priority. Nevertheless, the ability to attend to the fine details of speech proficiency may bear substantial fruit with respect to having the speaker be as effective a communicator as possible. This suggestion is applicable to all methods of postlaryngectomy alaryngeal communication and must be actively considered as part of a standard of care. And if we were to return to the concept of what defines SI, we can easily see that its value cannot be understated in the context of comprehensive postlaryngectomy speech treatment. Therefore, careful attention to SI should be a necessary component of the clinical process in laryngectomy rehabilitation.

If we assume that reductions in small components of speech (the structural and dynamic features for the production of specific sounds) is additive and contributes to overall SI, then the ability to measure and monitor SI in those who undergo laryngectomy is of considerable importance. This assumption has of even greater impact and clinical value when one considers the fundamental change that comes with the loss of one's larynx, the loss of a adductory-abductory system that is under fine volitional control. In this scenario, one may see the value of selecting assessment stimuli that ideally conform to a client’s potential limitations. Using the example of the loss of an adductory-abductory system due to laryngectomy, the ability to effectively code the voiced-voiceless distinction is explicit, so deficits in SI that emerge as a consequence of such deficits should be anticipated. Through such anticipation, the ability to document the impact that such changes have on one's speech production, and ultimately SI, can be addressed.

Clinical Limitations to Assessing SI

Despite myriad clinical and experimental reports concerning postlaryngectomy SI , at present there is no standard clinical approach for assessing this important area of communication performance. In many cases the assessment of SI is done via the clinician making a global subjective assessment of one's level of understandability during conversational speech. Although simple assessments of this type are common, necessary, and valuable, the question that may be begged is, "Can the speaker do better?" Similarly, questions that seek to address whether refinements to one's capacity to produce individual sounds with increasing (though not likely perfect) intelligibility also are important. Regardless of speech mode, all alaryngeal speakers (esophageal, electrolaryngeal, or TEP) will exhibit reductions in their ability to accurately code features of particular sounds as a consequence of their treatment. This will directly influence SI. Further, some individuals will have specific factors or limitations that additionally influence their speech production.

For example, documented changes to the integrity of the velopharyngeal port following treatment may disrupt alaryngeal speech in several ways; this would not only be a potentially limiting factor relative to overall SI in all forms of alaryngeal speech, but is a critical issue in the successful acquisition of esophageal speech (if one cannot seal the velopharyngeal port, insufflation capacity is reduced). Similarly, structural deficits or limitations that existed prior to laryngectomy or other treatment modalities (e.g., alterations in dentition) will likely be compounded postlaryngectomy. These types of considerations and others provide the framework from which careful and systematic assessment of SI can evolve. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, it is critically important to remember that all intelligibility “data” specific to laryngectomy evolve from individuals and, thus, highly individualized performance should be anticipated--an “average” performance is seldom observed! As such, it should not be expected; it is, therefore, important to let each person serve as his/her own control as information on SI is gathered and evaluated in an effort to improve their speech performance.

Some Additional Problems

While some of the challenges to assessing SI are specific to the clinical environment (limited time, resources, and the typically heavy demand placed upon clinicians), others find their origin in the lack of any accepted or standard approach to clinically evaluating SI and the unique medical treatment variables so characteristic of this population. However, as stated,
at present the biggest challenge is that there is no standard measure or accepted methodological protocol for indexing change in SI for those who have undergone laryngectomy. This limitation is further confounded by several other factors and/or variables that hold the potential to influence SI. For example, there is essentially no consideration of changes in SI over time in the context of treatment factors (e.g., radiation therapy, chemoradiation, etc.). When these issues are viewed in the context of increasingly extensive surgical resections and reconstructions, the need for further quantification of SI as an essential rehabilitation outcome becomes even clearer.

So, clinicians are left to consider the following: What is the best way to measure SI in those who are laryngectomized? In many respects subjective global assessments of SI have served this role well for all alaryngeal modes including esophageal, TE, and electrolaryngeal speech. The composite result of these and many other concerns suggests that our ability to assess SI in the laryngectomized population faces numerous challenges.

In my opinion, it is essential that measures of SI be obtained from all speakers who have been treated for laryngeal cancer in general, and for those of have undergone laryngectomy in specific. At the very least, a baseline measure followed by at least one follow-up post-treatment measure is required. Until a standard approach to assessing SI in those who are laryngectomized can be established, the use of clinician-originated probes based on rational and logical assumptions of anticipated changes in speech is recommended. Further, although global assessments provide a rich amount of information to the clinician, there remains a need for SI assessment that is determined by direct identification of spoken stimuli at the phoneme or word level. Such assessments do require time and care, but they offer one of the most important outcome measures when we consider the ultimate communication objective of postlaryngectomy speech rehabilitation.

For this reason, there is a continuing need for clinical research to further explore approaches to assessing SI in those treated for laryngeal cancer. Work of this type should be pursued with the goal of developing a standard means of objective SI assessment that meets the needs of this unique population, while at the same time acknowledging that any such measure will need to be clinically feasible, time-efficient, as well as being meaningful and useful to both the patient and the clinician. If this goal can be achieved, the potential for improving and documenting SI and facilitating the clinician's ability to provide a more explicit communication outcome specific to postlaryngectomy speech may be optimized.





Ed Chapman's Story

While my father was at war (WWII) my mom lived in their home, near his folks, in John Day Oregon. Even though they lived in John Day I was born about 15 miles away in the only clinic in the area in the community of Prairie City, Oregon all of this was located in the ranching country of eastern Oregon. When my father died in the war my mom and I moved to Seattle Washington to live with her mom. While there, and at the end of the war, she was introduced to Chief Petty Officer Norman Chapman whom she married. I was fortunate enough for him to be willing to adopt me and give me his name.

After they were married we moved to post war housing in Portland, Oregon, near his folks. While there, dad worked at several jobs with all of their extra money going into an account to buy their own piece of the world which ended up being acreage in that area. Dad built, his true love was construction being a carpenter/cabinet maker/woodworking artisan, us a place to live. Funds being short he couldn’t build us a complete house so he built the garage that we lived in until he finished the house.

I believe my work ethic came from watching and being involved with them while they made do, as most families needed to do during that period. We raised cattle, turkeys, chickens, rabbits, and geese while taking care of a 1 acre vegetable garden and a small orchard, not counting the clearing of the land, tending to the hay fields and wood cutting (our heat was with a small wood stove). While dad worked at construction sites all over the Portland area mom and us (my sister and I) would can, pickle, weed the garden and tend the smoker. When dad was home from work we all would do what tending needed to be done and, when that time came around, we would all pitch in and butcher the animals.

Don’t get me wrong I had time to be a kid. Of course we didn’t have TV until the late 50's and the big thing was to listen to the radio in the late afternoon and evening. I also enjoyed riding my horse. This led to one of my jobs as a youngster. I worked for the berry and fruit farmers in the area picking and hauling fruit . I learned in one year how to drive a team of horses and drive a tractor (what a ball for a 11 year old). Then I delivered papers by horse back when I was 12. The area was too steep for a bicycle and too unpopulated to make it pay to be delivered by car so the only way you could make money was by horse back, of course my Dad argued this because of the cost of keeping a horse.

While going to school and playing in sports I also worked, as this was what was expected, and enjoyed every minute. When I graduated from high school I went to work as part of a hot shot firefighting crew for the state. After that I bounced around to many jobs, working as a grill cook, as an assistant chef in a country club went to college for a couple of semesters then back to, it gets in your blood, the hot shot crew from there went to working on a lookout then in a paper mill . Met my first wife during this period of time and went to work with her dad. He had his own logging operation where I learned how to drive truck, and do all the other operations of a logging company. We also raised wheat on a 40 acre partial he had while keeping 3 trucks going as well as all the equipment needed for logging. That summer I took a job as a superintendent over a district fire crew. That’s when I figured out that the fire fighting part wasn’t going to pay enough, at that time, or be steady enough and that logging wasn’t consistent enough to raise a family so I looked for something else. That’s when I found a job, with the help of my dad, working in a plumbing shop as a delivery person. After 4 months they offered me an apprentice position. Five years later, after being an apprentice foreman, I graduated and ended up working for a shop in Hood River Oregon. I was eventually made the shop superintendent.

During that time I decided I needed to do something for my community so I joined the local volunteer fire department ( besides that they partied pretty good) . Those of you that remember the early 70's remember the drop in construction. We were hurt as bad as anybody else. The fire department had an opening for a paid fire fighter and I applied and got the position. This was a 24 hrs. on 48 hrs. off job so my plumbing boss liked it as he was able to count on me for certain days yet didn’t have to worry about keeping me busy.

While working both jobs I progressed through the department and during that time I was divorced and remarried. Between my second wife and I we raised 5 children, two of hers and three of mine and needed all of them as we both worked, she was a teacher, yet still had a vegetable garden, raised cattle and horses, bred and trained Brittany bird dogs (sound familiar). We also had a orchard that, after the kids started getting really active in outside activities, we leased out and the finale thing was we started our own plumbing business. I went back to college during this time taking night and week long courses that were required for a bachelors degree in fire service management. Upon completion of this I dropped the plumbing shop (my boy didn’t want the business as he saw the hours his mother and I put in) and applied for and got a position as Fire Chief that covered a city and a rural district in Washington on the I-5 corridor. Before leaving that position I was not only covering the position of chief but also building official and incident commander.

Wanting to get back to just being a fire chief I took that position in a fire district that encompassed the city of West Richland where I reside at the present. I retired from there when my wife’s Multiple Sclerosis got so serious that I was needed to take care of her. She passed away due to complications from MS a couple of years later.

I then (re?)met my present wife, Barbara, at a class reunion. We were married in 2002. It was lucky for both of us as we were able to care for each other when she had a stroke in 2003 and I was diagnosed with cancer in 2005. After twice a day 5 times a week for 7 weeks radiation treatments they thought they had gotten the cancer but a month later it reared its ugly head again and I had my operation in January of 2006. In 2007 I met Pat Sanders and she talked me into going to work for WebWhispers as VP over website information and I switched to VP Member Services last year. Its something I enjoy doing and gives me the opportunity to pay back WW members for all the help and support they have given me.

I wouldn’t trade my life for any other even though I’ve paid for my life style over the years. Besides the Laryngectomy operation I’ve had both shoulder rotator cuffs operated on, prostate surgery, broken neck (as well as too many broken bones to recount) and cataract surgery. But I feel very fortunate to be alive and still enjoying life with our 7 children (between Barbara and I) and 14 grand children. Barbara and I travel a lot what with the cruises and conferences. I go fishing and bird hunting as often as possible, while still doing woodworking and yard projects. I’m giving back to the community that supported me for so many years by serving on city boards and community committees. My laryngectomy surgery was just another stumbling block that had to be overcome so I could continue to enjoy life.

Ed Chapman, VP - Member Services
WebWhispers, Inc.

Ed had written bios on all of the WW officers for HeadLines and this was one of two not used in that newsletter when I finally closed it down after 14 years.  It is too good to miss! PS





My Saturday Off

That day was supposed to be a day off from teaching esophageal speech and the other standing appointments I manage to keep six days a week. I had hoped to write this column for WotW and submit it before the deadline.

At 5:45 a.m., I was awoken from a deep sleep by a noise in my bedroom that was out of the ordinary. Was it inside or outside? I lay there half awake hoping whatever it was would just go away. I wanted to slide back into my dream state for another hour or more.

After the wakeful night I’d had the night before I promised myself time to play catch up on my beauty sleep. You may know how that goes? You suddenly wake up at one or two in the morning and your brain is in full throttle planning what you will do the next day. Suddenly you are ready to clean out drawers and closets in the middle of the night. You try to figure out what you ate or drank that disturbed your REM sleep time. You get out of bed and head to the kitchen for a glass of milk, stop by the toilet on your way back to bed, turn on the bedside lamp, find your glasses and open your book, or turn on the TV to provide some white noise that may disrupt your brain’s spurt of problem solving activity. The next morning you look into the bathroom mirror and see a swollen face and eyelids that look like you’ve been on an all night binge. Where did all that middle of the night energy go now that it is daylight and it is time to begin the day’s activities?

That morning it wasn’t the sunlight that woke me up. No, it was that odd noise. There it was again. It’s not outside. It is in my bedroom. There it is again moving around. Could it be a little gecko that got in through the sliding dining room doors? Maybe it’s one of those lizards I’ve seen in the yard? Scorpions are soundless. I recall the scorpion that did sting my hand in the middle of the night a few weeks ago. Oh…please not a snake. Living in a house in the desert can be like sleeping in a tent where you do expect nocturnal visitors.

There it is again. It’s an active something or other, whatever it is. Now I hear little claws on plastic. It is behind me. Now I hear prickly little claws on fabric. Is it clawing up the sheets or an upholstered chair? It’s definitely time to turn the bright light on and see what has moved into my sleeping space. I see nothing. I wait.

I turned the TV on to catch the early morning news. Suddenly I see the grey blur of a very fast mouse scampering over upholstery and objects around the room. It seems to know where it’s headed…fast. On the TV there is a news item about a 5’5” woman who caught a 13’ alligator that weighs about 900 pounds! I’m going to have to deal with a 6” grey mouse. I can do this. I hate feeling afraid, but …oh,Yuk!

I’ve had to deal with mice before in two other homes. When cold weather drove them inside I became quite good at trapping the little devils. However, this is Tucson, AZ and the temperature is still hovering between 102-105. I guess the A/C is the draw here. I dislike the job of removing critters like spiders, scorpions, and now mice from my home immensely. Nevertheless, this little grey mouse has got to go. I’ll have to wait for Ace hardware to open so I can buy a couple of mousetraps. I’ve lived in this house 6 years and haven’t needed traps until now. I have plenty of peanut butter to load the traps. My previous “game hunting” experiences taught me that peanut butter works better than cheese if you’re serious about getting rid of rodents. D-Con is a whole other problem as they go off to some place you cannot reach to die. It’s an odor you’ll never forget. Live and learn.

How did a mouse this size get into my house in the first place? Ah hah… While I was away for the IAL meeting, and my extended visit with family and friends a workman needed to enter the garage through the laundry room door. I’ll bet that he left the laundry room door open. A couple of weeks ago when I opened the exterior garage door to adjust the drip line clock I noticed mouse droppings on the garage floor near the corner of the doorjamb and the garage door. There is a gap big enough at the frame for a mouse to get in there. Now I believe I have the question of entry solved. I will have to get enough traps for the bedroom area and the garage.

The Ace Hardware clerks were very helpful with this project. They convinced me that I was better off with a rat trap since my grey “mouse” could be a young pack rat; so common here in the desert. If this is the case I’ll re-use it in the garage and on the patio just in case. It was also suggested that I use smashed chocolate bars like Snickers for bait. I'll stick with peanut butter.

While standing at the register I noticed that our Tucson Ace also sells UV Flashlights to find scorpions at night. Huh? I don’t like finding them in the house during the day, why would I hunt for them?

Back home I began to feel like a big game hunter hunting mice with a $3.99 cannon, and a dab of peanut butter. You need to know it's not cute “Stewart Little” I'm envisioning. I hope I don’t lose a finger setting up this heavy-duty contraption. Safety first. I read the directions on the package before getting started.
1. Got my pliers out to pull the staple holding the locking bar.
2. Peanut butter smeared on the bait pedal.
3. Next, comes the iffy part…pull back the bow and engage the locking bar.
4. Then placed the bait trap facing the wall... on the bathroom tiled floor for easy clean up.
There. All done. My fingers are fine. Now comes the waiting patiently part of this plan that only real hunters & fishermen/women can appreciate. The anticipation of the catch heightens.

This exercise reminds me of my oldest son whose mission during his 16th summer was to trap the mole that was tearing up our newly landscaped yard and brick laid patio. Finally, one day during lunch time the spring trap he’d set in the main tunnel went off like a shot. We could hear it in the kitchen with the window open. I’ll never forget the expression on my son’s face after weeks of trial and error. “I got it, I got it”, he cried as he dropped his sandwich and tore out the back door to retrieve his prize catch. Not nearly as pretty as his first Rainbow Trout. I was hoping to know exactly how triumphant he felt by the end of that day, my Saturday off.

Sunday and Monday came and went and still the trap just sits there waiting. The ‘deadline’ for this article is here, and no mouse yet. Not even a noise or any sign of another visit. Where is the little fellow now? Just like moving the fishing boat location or changing bait, it is time to change tactics for this adventure. A thorough search with a flashlight for other possible ways for a mouse to come and go, and smaller mouse traps placed in several areas are necessary now. If you see one mouse you can assume there are more, or so I've been told. Trust me…I’ll figure this out. It (they) will soon be gone.

P.S. It took a week of adjusting the traps, but last night "I got it, I got it!". I hope there aren't more that think they found a new home.

P.P.S. Did I mention that my ”trophy” is nearly 5 inches long, NOT including the tail? Ugh!

Elizabeth Finchem





Toughest Job

Even after a challenging career of directing non-profits, nothing approached the difficulty of being a caregiver for a terminally ill spouse. My efforts were complicated because I, too, was battling laryngeal cancer at the same time Bob fought prostrate cancer. We all approach this dreaded diagnosis saying "I can beat this", but the truth is, some cancer is too aggressive and moves ahead relentlessly, defying every attempt to vanquish it.

Caregivers live on a roller coaster of emotions. Following trips to the Doctors' offices for disappointing results, you are often overwhelmed by growing frustrations and helplessness. There is always more care needed and you become irritated and then feel guilty about wanting to have the space to deal with your own concerns. The crucial goal remains to keep him with you longer. Over time, you realize that you can never do enough to snatch him back. Your choices grow fewer and you become almost robotic as you continue waiting for the last "good night".

Everyone's battle with cancer is unique but I can assure you that we who have trod this hard path understand the jumbled feelings that accompany it.

A few years after my husband's death, I unearthed a CD he had stashed away in a drawer. It was a speech I had given and thought I had discarded long ago. My cancer involves the use of a voice prosthesis and as I played the tape and heard my natural voice, I had a melt-down over the lilting sounds I would never make again.

That was immediately followed by a sweeping love for a lost husband who was still giving me wonderful gifts.

Ginny Huffman


I belong to an email group for the Times Union newspaper in Jacksonville, Florida. The editor periodically asks us questions about newspaper policy or current events . To an inquiry about Labor Day, asking for our toughest job, this was my response.





A true story of meeting up with a cavalry regiment in the desert.


By the time of the 2nd World War the majority of the cavalry regiments had become mechanised, but nearly all of them retained some horses for ceremonial purposes. The Royal Tank Regiment absorbed many of the regiments, but the lighter tanks, armoured cars, and bren gun carriers, kept the name of their old cavalry regiments. Hussars, Dragoons and Lancers now drove these vehicles which proudly had the old regiments colours and number painted on them, with cavalry pennants fluttering from radio aerials. The troops themselves still retained their original titles, such as Lancer, Dragoon, Hussar and Sergeant Farrier.

A Lancer Regiment were in Egypt at the same time as myself , but they were stationed much farther to the north. They were equipped with armoured cars, I think, Saladins. The British Army had just moved from garrisons throughout Egypt, to the east of the country, known as the Canal Zone, prior to us vacating Egypt completely in accordance with an agreement made the previous century.

I was in charge of a very small check-point on this new border in the desert, to prevent British personnel in uniform from crossing into Egypt proper, which would have upset our hosts. A Sudanese Askari on duty at the check-point brought a very irate Egyptian to me, who was in the uniform of the Egyptian Army, and wearing the badges of rank of a major. He complained angrily to me that he seen several British armoured cars crossing the desert road in front of him travelling south, many miles over the border, and that we were in contravention of the agreement. I promised him that I would look into it, and thanked him for reporting it. He left muttering under his breath.

I knew how difficult it was to traverse a featureless desert, and unless you watched your compass almost constantly, you could so easily wander off track. Obviously the person leading the patrol, if that's what it was, had not been doing just that. Instead of reporting this by radio to my main station at Suez, I sent our unit cook, much to his delight, on our only vehicle, a Matchless Motor Cycle, the long journey down to Suez, with a report from me.

I could imagine what trouble could come of it, by announcing we had slipped up badly to all and sundry. I thought ruefully, it didn’t matter that we had been asked by the Khedive some 150 years before to treat his country as a protecterate, and we had done just that, preventing the Turkish Ottoman Empire spreading into Egypt, their ancient enemies from Libya invading, and insurrection by their (colony) to the south, The Sudan, during the Mahdi up-rising. We had built Egypt into a modern state, with democratic government, a judicial system, police, army, hospitals, railways, etc, and now we were on the verge of leaving, and this complainant couldn’t wait for us to go.

The cook returned with instructions, that I was to cross over dressed as a civilian, with the motor cycle disguised, find the unit, and get them back over the border without anybody else seeing them. After driving several miles, I found where they had crossed the road, and I followed them to the south. I came to a maze of dunes and following one set of tracks I found a stationary armoured car. All the apertures were open, and a large black bank-managers type umbrella was open above the turret. Sitting below it, with his head and shoulders showing, was a young Lieutenant, drinking tea and reading a book. Sitting at the side of the vehicle in its shade were the three crew. Their kettle was still steaming, on top of the proverbial tin filled with sand, which with petrol sprinkled on it and lit, made the perfect fire.

They looked up at my approach, and one character called out, "Ullo mate, gone and got yerself lost?", in a true London cockney accent. The officer looked down as I got off the motor bike, and I called up to him, "I am a Military Police Officer sir. I have been told to find and inform you.. that you have wandered over the agreed boundary. You are to return to the Canal Zone immediately, without any others seeing you, and to maintain radio silence."

He jumped down looking most perturbed, and speaking with a real upper-crust accent said, "Oh dear, Bonzo will be furious. I was leading the column two days ago, and I got distracted for about half an hour, and we must have wandered off course then. Oh! how frightfully careless." As he spoke with his back to his crew, I suddenly realised that the cockney comedian, who was actually the driver of the armoured car, was silently mimicking his words, and even copying that young officers facial expressions. I realised that there was no evil intent in this 'Mickey taking,' and got the general feeling that his crew felt the world of him, and would protect him, and follow him, come what may. The young Lieutenant kept calling me constable, and invited me to have tea. I found it so difficult to keep a straight face, and not to laugh at the antics of the driver behind him, repeating everything in a most comical fashion. This was a clear indication of the class divide, so prominent in English society at that time.

As I rode away from them, I remembered that the regiment had been part of the light cavalry brigade at the battle of Balaclava, in the Crimean War of 1854-1856, when we fought Russia. "Cannons to the right of them, cannons to the left, volleyed and thundered, as into the valley of death rode the six hundred." A vision came into my head, of that young officer, sitting astride his horse, with his drawn sword, saying to his men, "Come on you chaps, follow me" and in line behind him, holding his lance, that disrespecful driver silently mouthing every word.








We had a few comments in the September issue of Whispers on the Web that can be read at:


These comments are in response to that column.

I'd like to mention my Grandchildren never knowing what POP sounded like.. vs a Servox! Our Grandson liked to place it by HIS throat and make the buzz and lip sync!

Jim Maloney, 05
Pocono Mnts PA

To Jim, Kayleigh does the same thing- plus she fake coughs with a tissue on her neck! Donna (editor)


My grandson,13 months has always known my 'voice' as a Trutone. From chewing on it to, at times, finding the button that makes it buzz. And now, taking it from me and holding it up to my neck and then he makes 'talking sounds' as only a one year old can make. We all get a chuckle out of it.

At his 1 year old B-day party, my daughter's friend brought her 2 and 4 year old boys to the party. The 4 year old kept calling me 'Robert' all day. Odd because my name is Mike. It wasn't until they were ready to leave when he handed me a hand-drawn picture which looked like the Tin Man from the Wizard of OZ and I realized he was calling me 'Robot' all day.

That picture is hanging on the wall in my office at work.

Mike in NH


I was in Walmart in Paducah Ky. and the cashier asked how long I had my Servox. I told her 4 years and she said I was understood so well. Said her Father had one in the 80s and they could only understand when he was frustrated and started cussing and, then,everyone could understand every word.




My husband used a Servox for about 4 years prior to "discovering" oesophageal speech.

Adults,strangers,shop assistants all looked somewhat taken aback - but not his Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren - it was the norm for them as they had never known anything else.Grandad spoke with a machine - end of - completely normal.

One day we went down to see them all in the Black Country - the industrial heart of the United Kingdom in "the day" - and outside the house as we pulled up ,was a queue of young children (about 7 or 8 years old.) All waiting patiently in a straggly line - most unusual !

This was most definitely puzzling but out of the car we got.Leon (great grandson) had all his classmates there and he said - Grandad talk for them and then can they all look down your hole (stoma) ? Laurie duly obliged and each child handed 50p to Leon.

Not one child showed fear or disgust - they all had a go with the Servox - and Leon earned £35 plus 6 IOU`s !

It pleases me to know that if any one of that group meet a lary in the future there will be no nudging and whispers or laughter - they understand why,what and how a stoma and a Servox work and why they are needed !

As for Leon - he is -I think - destined for great things ! If any of our U.K.members watch the advert for Halfords on television - Leon is the cafe au lait poppet on a bike riding round - he will go far !

Christine (Wales)





Granddaughters Acceptance

by Judy Norris


Wanted to share a very special story about my granddaughter Katie. I lost my voice Oct. 6, 2009 to Throat Cancer and frankly refused to try any form of talking for several months. Then, family got me my EL and the rest as they say was history because now the world can't shut me up. Got up the courage to call my granddaughter in Oregon on the phone one evening and when she heard my new voice she got very very upset and it just broke my heart! ! Could not imagine scaring this beautiful 7 year old child and perhaps never having the same great relationship with her!

My husband and I flew to visit her a couple months later and my daughter and granddaughter were there to pick us up at the airport. I crawled in the back seat with Katie and hugged her so tight. Then dragged out my EL and began to talk to her. She wouldn't look at me directly but did understand what I said, as she did answer me several times.

The next morning I came down the hall and found her in the living room all wrapped up in her "grandma quilt" and I mouthed the words, "I Love You Katie" and "Good Morning" without my EL. She looked at me, broke into a big smile, and asked if I needed her to go find my voice!!!!! I was so very thrilled to see that she could accept her damaged grandma as I am now. And, bless her heart, she just couldn't understand why I was crying!

There were many times in that two week period that she went and found grandma's voice and she was always very glad to do so. I may not be able to sing to her anymore but I can still read a book. Please know that life goes on after a tragedy of any sort and it is only how we handle that tragedy that makes the next day better than the last. . .

(Gods Blessings To All Who Read My Little Story About Katie :)


To Judy

This touched me very much. I had my laryngectomy on January 30,1990. My son's 16th birthday. He was a sophomore in high school and my daughter was a senior. My biggest worry was that I had to pay for two college degrees. I went back to work as an electronics engineer and still was able to give presentations and interact with others at meetings. Both kids graduated college and my daughter has 3 boys. One is 6 years old and today was his first day in first grade. She also had twin boys that are 4 years old. They were born after my laryngectomy so the only voice they knew was my EL. Once they were old enough to hold it and play with it - loved to make it buzz - they would mimic me. I could probably write pages on this - your story brought back many sad times, but also very happy times. The happy times far outweighed my sad times.

Len, WW Webmaster






Gospel DJ

by John and Billie Sue Thompson


My husband John and I are both Gospel DJ's, who had our own programs on the radio. We started taking our sound system and laptop, loaded with over eight thousand songs, into the nursing, assisted living, and VA homes. Once a month for each place. John was a good singer and could sound like Elvis and others. When he lost his voice box in November of last year, they all prayed for him at the homes.

We got a standing ovation when John was well enough to go back. He sits behind the board, playing the music, and I am taking requests, greeting the people, and announcing. John has not said a word but when we come in, I still hear them saying, "Oh, here comes that good singer." A lot of the people have memory problems but they remember that part.




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 34 new members who joined us during September 2010:


Roland Aquino
Quezon City, Philippines
Jim Benson
Newtown, CT
April Brenneman - (Caregiver)
Tigard, OR
M. LaQuisha Burks - (SLP)
Jackson, MS
Melissa Edwards
Palm Desert, CA
Albert Ferrari
Cliffside Park, NJ
Ray H. Gaul
Yorktown, VA
Cindy Gottschalk
Delphi, IN
Kathy Grimaldi
Kalamazoo, MI
Branton K. Holberg, Ed.D
Waua, WA
Stephanie Houston - (SLP)
Montreal, CAN
Leah Hull - (Caregiver)
Bedford, TX
Roxanne Jacobs
Fort Wayne, IN
Chelsey Jernigan
Northglenn, CO
Marsha Jones
Warrior, AL
Robert J. Kilbane
Des Moines, IA
Ronald Laribee
Lyons, NY
Jerry Marcus
West Deprford, NJ
Delbert J. McClintock
Plymouth, WI
Shelly Mendoza - (SLP)
Bend, OR
Sandy Obranovich
Denair, CA
Eric John Olson
Portage, MI
Jennifer Peters - (Caregiver)
Rural Retreat, VA
Shannon Planck - (SLP)
Keeseville, NY
Sandy Potter - (Caregiver)
Abingdon, MD
David Ratcliffe - (Caregiver)
Nancy Reynolds
Winston-Salem, NC
James S. Rockwell
Mesa, AZ
Greg Stone
Tucson, AZ
Linda A. Swalling
Brooklyn, NY
Denielle Watson - (SLP)
Liberty, PA
Penny White - (SLP)
Dorchester on Thames, UK
Robert Winston
Norristown, PA
Bruce Young
Victoria, TX



WebWhispers is an Internet based support group. Please check our home page for information about the WebWhispers group, our email lists, membership, or officers.
For newsletter questions, comments or contributions, please write to editor@webwhispers.org
           Managing Editor - Pat Wertz Sanders
           Editor - Donna McGary
           Webmaster - Len Librizzi



The information offered via WebWhispers is not intended as a substitute for professional medical help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition. The statements, comments, and/or opinions expressed in the articles in Whispers on the Web are those of the authors only and are not to be construed as those of the WebWhispers management, its general membership, or this newsletter's editorial staff.
As a charitable organization, as described in IRS § 501(c)(3), the WebWhispers Nu-Voice Club
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Reprinting/Copying Instructions can be found on our WotW/Journal Index.


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