On May 12th of 2012, I am celebrating the anniversary of a milestone in my life, namely just completing my third year with Foreign Accent Syndrome. It was such a dramatic change in my life that I am thankful I have some audio/video captured to show a bit of the journey for the sake of medical documentation as well as public information.
For those who have not heard my “old” voice (a.k.a. “normal voice”, “real” or “original” voice) here are a couple of pieces wherein I am being interviewed, and another where I am the interviewer as well as much more normal speech patterns.
February 3, 2007 –Before foreign accent: This is a video of me being interviewed after giving a seminar on using new media tool of Flickr and tagging photographs for better communication across the world wide web.
May 24,2008 — Here I am both interviewing AND filming a piece about a local ministry that accurately reflects my normal speech BEFORE I got Foreign Accent Syndrome:
THEN IT HAPPENED — MAY 12, 2009 — FOREIGN ACCENT SYNDROME changes my speech and a big part of me is gone!
May 26, 2009 — 2 weeks – my first radio interview in which I actually tell about how I got it and with my brand new voice! http://ellen5e.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/wibcinterview090526.mov
June 15, 2009 — 1 month after onset of Foreign Accent Syndrome: here I had an impromptu meet-up with Fishers Fran who occasionally has “bouts of Foreign Accented Speech” when she goes through multiple sclerosis type symptoms. She coined the phrase “flipping” for those times when she goes through it. Most of the time she is normal speaking. She found me via the Indianapolis radio station where I was routinely interviewed.
The June 19,2009 (1 month) video greeting is glued to the top of my Ellen5e.com web site.
November 12, 2009 –6 months after onset:
May 13, 2010 — at the One Year Mark with Foreign Accent Syndrome:
November 13, 2010 — One and a half years with FAS:
November 20, 2011 — Two and a half years with FAS (I am behind the camera asking the questions):
This is a pretty good library of audio/video documentation for now. I shall have to record some newer material for my actual “FAS birthday”. So you’ll just have to check back later.
I know that part of it is getting more comfortable with unusual sound and speech patterns as well as my avoiding using those words that I know are my “bad” words. Those being the particularly heavy accented or hard to pronounce words that stop a listener from hearing what I am trying to say because they are so hung up on its sound that they are busy figuring out from what country I originate.
In the meantime, I would greatly appreciate your observations about what you think of this bizarre Foreign Accent Syndrome. How would you describe my speech? What language do you think dominates the accent? Do you notice a change over time?
Please allow me to thank you in advance for ANY observations you have. Because your unfiltered input helps me better gauge how the general population views those of us with such a rare condition that takes away a part of our identity by making us sound like someone else.
I want 2012 to be a milestone of change and it starts now… here… with me “getting my house in order.” So, I am intentionally honing at the first of 2012 in a way that I trust will lead to some serious cutting away of the unnecessary in favor of a sharper, more impactful use of my future. I want to disentangle myself of the “clutter”; simplify and streamline so that I will be more available for what the Lord would direct me to do with my life. Once I get through the tediousness of reorganization I believe I will not only be freed from the space-hogging “stuff” of things and superfluous obligations, but will also free up time which I KNOW can be better spent.
How am I doing it? First, I have gone to greater lengths to seek God’s will. I am still dedicating daily time to reading God’s Word. I have been blessed by the “read through the Bible in a year” discipline for the last three years. Every single time I come to portions where I say “I don’t remember ever having read THAT before”. I can testify that the Word of God is “living” just as the Scripture itself testifies. It has great power for change. So I am starting year four of reading through it cover to cover on top of my other in-depth studies. After all I cannot “hide God’s Word in my heart” if I don’t read or hear it.
I further sharpen the axe, so to speak, by prayer. This one has become ever more important to me. Almost exactly a year ago, a very dear elderly woman in our church passed away. At her funeral service I was profoundly struck by the number of people that spoke of her as a prayer warrior. It was especially gripping when children and grandchildren testified to finding list upon list in her handwriting of specific prayer requests, with dates of prayer concerns and dates answered or additional updates. This prayer warrior had gone before God’s throne with concerns and praises of hundreds of people. . . she had interceded in a very actionable way… naming them specifically (whether dear family member or stranger) . The hundreds of names that this woman left behind and her children found shook my prayer life to its core. “WHY? Why Ellen, don’t YOU pray more? What impact are YOU having through prayer?”
When it comes to praying for others, my method of praying over the years has been more of a series of darts thrown heavenward. I guess because I am visual, I rely heavily on cues to remind me to pray for a certain person. My kitchen faucet is assigned to those who I continue to pray for salvation. My refrigerator door handle reminds me to pray for provision. My bathroom ( medicine cabinets) remind me to pray for those suffering physical needs. Newstime on TV… lots of prayer cues there, but also reminds me to pray for our government and public servants. When I see an emergency vehicle, traffic accident, obvious suffering, I immediately shoot off another prayer dart. I don’t mean to belittle this method of praying, but one thing it does NOT do, is it doesn’t keep an account like a prayer journal would do.
So – - – I resolved in 2012 to start a prayer journal. But that left me with the big question of HOW exactly do I DO that?! I mean, when I was a teenage girl I started a diary (complete with lock and key to keep out nosey siblings) just as many of my friends did. However, inevitably I’d vow to write in my diary every day, and by early February I’d miss a day or two. My life just wasn’t that noteworthy. I’d feel guilty for missing my entries, then sharpen my resolve and maybe get an addition week or two of entries in a stretch. Next thing you know, I’d not have another entry for months and that one would be some special event had happened like a family 4th of July gathering or something!
Well, I’ve decided to walk as a Christian . . . by FAITH. That faith is not in myself. No way! I am going to trust in God to give me both the direction AND the strength to achieve what HE wants me to accomplish. I know that I might fail. uh..strike the word “might”. . . I will fail. Maybe repeatedly. However, this is NOT all about me. It’s about Jesus Christ. It’s about my wanting to be more like Him; to truly intercede for people on behalf of what has not only current ramifications for the person(s) I am praying for, but everlasting consequences. I truly ache for those who struggle through life without a Savior. I feel that ache as I visualize Jesus outside of Lazarus’ tomb and the gates of Jerusalem crying. So prayer is too important of a privilege for me to take lightly. Not that I was in any way insincere in my “prayer without ceasing” method of praying “darts” throughout my day, but I need to add something more.
I believe I need to start journaling prayer. It is not going to be easy for me, but I think of the ebenezers that were set as memorial stones of remembrance throughout the Old Testament. These were lasting testimonies to what God had done! So I have consulted a few friends to ask for ANY suggestions on HOW they prayer journal. Any advise at all is welcome. I know it is not a one method fits all proposition. I am handicapped in not having a step by step instruction method before me on this one. However, I believe that I must purpose to do this for the benefit of being able to look back on those lists, all the names, all the prayers and answers to prayers, listing the many praiseworthy “only by God’s grace” occurrences that people explain as miracles, etc. I think that perhaps this will be a wonderful tool to remind me of God’s active involvement in our lives.
In regard to prayer. . . the very beginning of 2012 has brought to me a new spiritual discipline as our church has encouraged people to engage in prayer in fasting during the first 40 days of 2012. Not that I have never, ever fasted before. But this time I planned ahead; I took time to prepare for the time of fasting and prayer. All the other times were more like emotionally entering a short time of fasting contemporaneously. This time; like my determination of being more intentional in all the areas of my life, I am taking the time to grab up the axe of action and not just start chopping, but to take the time to grind that axe to a very sharp edge by using the Lord’s honing stone to sharpen me “before” I can be used more effectively. ”Grind on Master . . . I know there is some shiny metal under all of this rust and if anyone can get to it, You can!” In the meantime I would much appreciate your prayers as I press myself against the grinding stone that will reshape my future. Likewise, if you have ANY comments about how you handle this area of spiritual development I would be very grateful if you shared them with me.
Okay, so you may be asking yourself, “what is a frisbee squirrel anyway?” Let me explain. You know when those furry little varmits get particularly active and don’t watch out when they cross the street. They can meet up with an automobile who cuts short their nut-gathering life right there in the middle of the road.
Should this happen in an area that is not frequented by road-kill restraunteers (like Kentucky or Arkansas) or buzzards, a few more car tire passes placed across the remains and a couple of days of drying and stiffening; then; wallah… you have yourself a frisbee squirrel.
Now that you have the proper definition, you can better appreciate why I chose to use the “frisbee squirrel” as an accurate descriptor for my body on some days. On really, excessively weak days I even say “transparent” frisbee squirrel day implying run over even more!
If this were a Bugs Bunny cartoon, maybe someone could just pick me up, shake me a little from side to side, and then blow me back up (like a balloon) into shape!
As it is, I have discovered that severe Chronic Fatigue makes my Foreign Accent Syndrome much worse (so no talking), I am too weak to do anything (so bedrest) and confusion makes reading and writing difficult. That is why you may not hear or see me much, but will see … It’s a Frisbee squirrel day @@=~