Shouting Above a Whisper

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

by Sherri Woodbridge |

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What is your biggest point of frustration in living with Parkinson’s disease? Mine is my inability to speak up.

I have a lot of pain with this disease. I drool when I don’t want to. (I can’t actually think of a time when I want to drool.) I shuffle and often lose my balance. My tremors act up now and then (but not to the degree they used to). I have other signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s, but the most frustrating and the most consistent is a soft voice.

To make matters worse, this is a noisy world. All the clamoring and chattering, the booming and banging that vies for our attention. It’s hard to hear and to be heard.

My father-in-law has been hard of hearing for as long as I can remember. It has worsened with each passing year. The last few visits with him have been hard as I watch him struggle to be a part of conversations taking place around the room. 

I watch him try to concentrate on what is being said, hoping if he can decipher the words he may be able to participate in the conversation. 

He is able to grasp only bits and pieces. By the time he understands what is being said, the contribution of his thoughts to the conversation arrives too late, which leaves him frustrated. 

I have the opposite problem — a soft voice. I am constantly ignored, reprimanded for not being heard, or told to speak up. I don’t realize I am being quiet. I get angry and I scream my words. 

“Is this loud enough for you?” I ask, certain I am making the other person irritated. “Can you hear me now?”

“Yes,” they respond, smiling. “That’s better.”

Better for whom, I wonder.

I feel I am being rude and disrespectful because from my perspective I am yelling. However, to those to whom I am speaking, I am doing only that — speaking. 

To keep from being ignored, I must make myself heard. I must shout. 

In this already crazy, mixed-up world, I am finding I must shout out loud to those I was taught to respect. But I realized that I am not shouting at them. Rather, I am shouting to them in hopes that my words will be caught and heard. And if not, I will feel a little better for having “vented,” er, shouted, and no one will be any the wiser.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

Comments

laura seymour avatar

laura seymour

I know exactly how you feel! It was like reading about myself! I hate to shout, so I try things like lifting my head up, turning toward the person, getting closer to the person, etc. Great article! take care!

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Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Laura - I’m glad you enjoyed it - thanks for commenting!

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Jeff Geuder avatar

Jeff Geuder

I suffer from a weak voice, too. Coupled with my wife's increasing hearing loss, we both get frustrated with our conversations. I also have gaps or pauses in my words (trying to keep my train of thought) so in a group, I feel like I'm getting interrupted, when others think I've finished what I had to say. As a result, I've become less outgoing and less social.

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Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Jeff - I’m right there with you. I can relate personally and totally understand!!! Thanks for sharing and leaving a comment. - sherri

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Janet avatar

Janet

I live with my sister who has PD. She is 67yo and I am 66yo. It is sort of comical how we go through our day. I can’t hear her because of her “soft voice” and she cannot hear me...maybe because she is hard of hearing. All we say to each other all day is “WHAT?” It made me realize that I need to be a little more understanding. Thanks for the article!

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Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Janet - thank you for taking the time to comment. My husband and I take turns getting frustrated and laughing. I prefer laughing. The other choice isn’t as fun.

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Patricia Davis avatar

Patricia Davis

I, also, suffer with this problem. I tolerated this soft voice quite a long time before I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. I must always be aware of how far away I am from the listener. However, there are worse problems. My voice sounds very loud, or at least normal to me, but I will continue to shout.

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Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Patricia - And shout we must - or at least try! Thanks for commenting! -sherri

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Ed OBrien avatar

Ed OBrien

Sherri, I've been following your inspirational writings for some time now, so I know you're well-read on all things Parkinson's. So have you tried any Parkinson's voice lessons. I have developed the same voice problems. My problem is doing voice lessons

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Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Ed - thanks so much for commenting. I have tried lessons for a short time but the therapist made me super nervous so I quit. I am trying to be intentionally louder, sing more (when no one is around!), etc. I have to be intentional or it doesn’t happen. You are not alone!!! -sherri

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Jenny Ryburn avatar

Jenny Ryburn

Been there-done that! It is nice to know I am not alone in my frustration!

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Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Hi Jenny - thanks for your comment and don’t forget that truth: You are not alone!!! -sherri

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Dennis Milgate avatar

Dennis Milgate

My wife has a Parkinson's soft voice. Are you aware of any "over the internet therapy? We live in Pittsboro, North Carolina.

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Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Hi Dennis - Try this link and you’ll get several choices to check out: https://www.google.com/search?q=parkinson%27s+soft+voice+exercises&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safari

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THOMAS TIZARD avatar

THOMAS TIZARD

SHERRI: GOOD ARTICLE - I SHARE THE PROBLEM (ALONG WITH SWALLOWING DIFFICULTY). I HAVE TAKEN THE LSVT (LEE SILVERMAN VOICE TRAINING) & FIND IT HELPS - AT LEAST WITH THE "WHISPERING"... I STRONGLY RECOMMEND LSVT, SO I ENCOURAGE YOU TO FIND ANOTHER SPEECH PATHOLOGIST & TRY AGAIN - YES, IT'S WORK, & THE "HOMEWORK" GOES ON FOREVER - DAILY! I'VE GOTTEN DOWN TO EVERY-OTHER DAY NOW, AS ANY LESS CAUSES REAL LOSS OF THE VOICE 'GAINS" - BUT IT WORKS!

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Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Thomas - thanks for responding - I am glad it helps you - I will look into it more! Stay well!

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Emma avatar

Emma

Hi my name is Emma am 43yrs old. I live with my mum whom has PD. I care for her am finding it hard with her not talking I don't no if it's because she has nothing to talk about? I find even with friends and family it's when she doesn't talk at all. I just don't no what to do? Any advice please?, Thankyou

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Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Hi Emma - I’m sorry to hear about your struggle with your mom. There is voice therapy she may be able to get into. Check with her neurologist and ask about it. If s/he isn’t aware of any, there are several different options on the internet. You might also try the YouTube channel for free helps.

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