It has been a long haul for Thomas. Five months ago he was unexpectedly rushed to the hospital with his life hanging by a thread. The ensuing operation kept him alive and kicking but for the most part, decimated his voice. Since that time, not a lot of progress has been made with his vocal cords. Up until yesterday, he still squeaked, whispered, coughed and wheezed when in conversation. Working with a Barry White/Darth Vader mixed voice may be most unique but also incredibly exhausting, for speaker and listener alike. I have to admit, I will not miss that voice.
So here we are again on operation day but this time it is planned, no drama. Following a mere 30-minute outpatient intervention, Thomas will hopefully have his baritone back. The proof is in the pudding and we will know for sure next week, but to close the door to this chapter, we recorded a short interview. Maybe it is better to forget some things but somehow, I think this one will be a reminder of difficult times turned better.
The team made it through many a meeting, (potential) investors made it through multiple pitches, partners made it through amicable negotiations and innocent bystanders made it through cordial conversations. It was all doable. And yes, Thomas made it through many surprised and taken-aback reactions. It was a lesson in making uncomfortable feel comfortable and Thomas has now mastered that art. “…it sounds like I am suffering when speaking, but no worries, the suffering is all on your side, dear listener”. No matter what, you will always find the silver lining if you look for it.
It will be great to have you 100% back Thomas!
Having said that, if you still don’t want to expose yourself to strange croaking sounds, here is the transcription.
Hi Thomas, on January 13 of this year you became very ill and as a result of that illness and the operation that followed, you lost your voice. So 5 months later, how are you?
I don’t know what you mean by “losing my voice”, I mean, it is fully perfect.
So tomorrow is the big day and you are hoping to have your normal voice back, are you nervous?
Yes and no. It is quite an easy operation, it is not complicated. But I have some technical doubts on how the results will be. Many have done this before me, it shouldn’t be a big issue.
Well you have had worse operations behind you, so I am sure…
Oh for sure, yes.
How do you feel this time with a very decimated voice has impacted you, if at all?
Well the funny thing is, that sometimes, it has actually been advantageous. For instance, that I have to speak more slowly when I do a presentation, I think that helps, that I don’t start talking too fast because I can’t. Sometimes it is even quite funny, it is kind of an ice-breaker which I can use. Overall it is of course a little tiresome but to be honest, I have become accustomed to it.
Yes you have because you live with it but for someone who hears it for the first time, it is always a bit of a shock, people are taken aback.
And I think it is more a problem for you to hear it all the time.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that but this has been a critical time for our start-up because you had to pitch repeatedly to investors during this 5 month period. How do you feel it influenced your work, although you just mentioned how it influenced how you presented but how do you think it influenced people in how they reacted towards you?
Well I was actually quite surprised, I thought people would react more. At least I didn’t feel a different reaction. I always informed at the start of the conversation that it is due to an operation I had had and my voice is still recovering and that is basically it. People rarely asked, “what happened/why did you have an operation…”, so it is basically that and then we move forward.
What did your family think of it?
I mean, I think my wife loves my voice…but joke aside, actually, I don’t know. I think it is quite strenuous to listen to such a voice all the time but I can not really relate, to be honest.
The point of this little short interview was to take stock but also to record for all time your Barry White/Vincent Price/sometimes Darth Vader voice. Are you going to miss it?
There are things you miss and things you don’t miss and I think it is the last category.
Well I know we won’t be missing it here in the team. Stay well Thomas and thanks for allowing this milestone in your life to be accessible to everyone and hopefully you can chalk this experience up to “been there, done that and never again to be repeated”.
You know I asked that my voice keep the Barry White after the next operation, just so you are not surprised.
The next interview follows next week and we will see. Thanks!