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FAQ33: Life After a Laryngectomy?
by Paul Galioni

As many of you know I work at Lassen College in Susanville, California, about a hundred miles north of Reno. When I first came here I was not a larrie — but a few years into my stint in the second hell on earth I ended up with a total. I continued teaching in special ed, working in supportive services for the handicapped, and hanging out.

I was then moved to math/business to help reorganize the business department to make it more functional and responsive to the needs of the community.

A few months ago I was offered, and have now officially accepted the job of running the learning center for the college. The goal is to take a completely dysfunctional program which has a difficult time serving the needs of the students, and turn it into one of the central foci of student life. Those focus points are: Library, Learning Center, and the Student Union. While I wanted to take on the Student Union where my job description would have been 'drink coffee and hang with the students' — the administration felt that the student union was already functioning fairly well.

For years the Learning Center has been having a problem attracting students, my mission is to turn that around, and no less than double the number of students using it by the end of next semester, and double that number moving into the spring semester. And those goals are completely attainable — without even working I think I could do that.

So — to all the other larries out there — looks like I got even another job at the college where talking and being publicly 'out there' and having to be very socially active are prerequisites for the successful completion of the operation.

And, being a larrie isn't even considered as a factor. You are only as handicapped as you want to be — well, perhaps handicapped isn't the word — perhaps 'disabled' is a better word — you are only disabled as you chose to be.

Yesterday I took a break from correcting finals and went out to the store to get something for dinner— I had left my voice on my desk at home — and didn't know it till someone said hi to me in the store. I reached for the Servox, and it wasn't there! — so I just occluded my stoma and without missing a beat started talking. No problem.

Most problems are ones that you make for yourself, or are things you chose not to deal with. That moment in the store could have been really flustering and embarrassing — but it wasn't — I did what had to be done until I could get to where I could do it the way I preferred Problem? yes, for about the length of time it took my hand to complete the sweep from my chest where the Servox usually lays to my stoma — perhaps two seconds. then it wasn't a problem it was just inconvenient Go with the flow and problems often disappear by themselves.

Just wanted to share with this family that I have changed jobs again, been given a rather daunting assignment of turning around 20 years of tyrannical rule over the 'learning center' — and make it student oriented, and student serving — which means lots and lots of vocalizing around the campus and the community.

And I use a Servox — nothing fancy — so another larrie makes good. Someday I will figure out what I want to be when I grow up — and until then, I guess teaching is as good a way as any to keep my Christmas, Easter, and Summer Vacations!

The message here is: don't give up — if larries can grow in their abilities and professional life — just imagine what you can do in your personal life if you just "get right with the Universe".

So I go from fixing up a triple network 2500 square foot lab to running about a 6500 square foot lab running Macs and PC's over what is to become a single network!

So — just cause you have a hole in your neck and have two 'throats' doesn't mean you can't do something — it is a good excuse for what you couldn't do before, but it is a poor excuse for what you could have done but chose not to do before. convenient, but poor.

Take care all — and please do remember that being a larrie is just another adventure — and not a very big one at that (if you are prepared). After the third or fourth year you tend to forget you are a larrie — and do things like leave your voice at home, jump in the shower without a shower guard, and both answer and make phone calls forgetting that your voice isn't near by.

it's called a normal life. And we can all have one if we want. All we have to do want it enough to do it.

Take care, and while this new assignment will, I am certain, soak up a lot of time — I hope I will still have time to be with all of you — who have helped me so much in the past realize that I am only what I want to be — and whom I now try to help realize the same things.

It isn't all about technical stuff, 90% is about attitude. Like Jewell said — 'people see you like you see yourself' — and the longer I live, the more I understand that as a fundamental fact of life. And while she is 20 or more years my junior, she is 30 or more years up on me as a larrie!

Take care — and I do need to thank all of you on this list — my friends as well as those who detest me more than a leach and mosquito infested swamp — all of you are now a part of me — and this new job is only a reflection on all that I have gained from this site, and from all the larries who have traveled through it.

This new job is as much a part of your doing as mine. And probably more yours than mine. I just hang out — you guys give purpose to others, including me.

So — a thank you to all — friends and not-friends -=- for it takes all types to make us whole and functioning and operational. So even the flames help dry the tears of self pity, and the kind words keep the flames from burning as much as they could.

So — again — thank you all, and now it is time to go to that most serious part of any job: think about what the hell I am going to do to get outta this mess!

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