One day not long after John Hvizda, 72, of Waynesburg, Greene County, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, a neighbor pulled up to his house unexpectedly. Jesse wasn’t a close friend, but more of an acquaintance, and John invited him in, wondering what this visit was about. It was about cancer: Jesse had heard about John’s diagnosis of esophageal cancer and he thought he might be of some help. Jesse himself was recovering from the same cancer and had undergone the exact procedure and treatment that John was facing. John says that Jesse told him what to expect and gave him pointers about how to manage his recovery. It was, John says, enormously reassuring to hear from someone who could speak from experience, and he is grateful that Jesse took the initiative to approach him.
A human voice is like a fingerprint; no two are exactly alike. Voices are so distinct that we can immediately identify others by voice alone. Medical professionals who care for unconscious patients have long believed that these patients can hear sounds in the room, and so they often talk to them while providing care, and encourage families to do the same. Recent research tells us that hearing a familiar voice can actually help a comatose patient awaken and even lead to a faster recovery.
Jim Kauffman, 62, resides in a Mount Washington neighborhood, but he has a village of his very own. He lives there with his wife, Wendy, 55, and their two Great Danes, Diesel and Lexie. Many others — family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, fellow musicians — make up the population of Jim’s personal village, and although they don’t all know each other, they all know Jim and are linked by their great love and affection for him. He’s an easy guy to like — gregarious, energetic, witty and warm.
For John, mornings used to begin with the cheery sounds of his little daughter awakening and bounding down the hall to greet the day and her parents. It was a daily, joyful ritual that gave each day an upbeat beginning, and John looked forward to it. But when he began falling into a deep depression, and his days became dark and difficult, those sounds took on a different meaning and he found himself dreading them. Another day meant facing more pain and anguish, trying to function, and feeling hopeless.
Hollywood has given the world a false and frightening image of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), once known as shock treatments, in movies such as “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “The Snake Pit.” These inaccurate depictions, says St. Clair Hospital psychiatrist Kenneth von der Porten, M.D., have done a disservice to psychiatric treatment and to patients who may benefit from ECT.