By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
I remember when I lost my voice for 18 months back in 1980. I will never forget resigning my position at St. Philip’s Dunbar, going on sick leave, driving to the Employment Insurance office only to find out that our diocese did not have any long-term disability insurance.
The condition is called ‘spasmodic dysphonia’ . It was caused by a rare viral throat infection which happens statistically to one in five million people, something like winning the lottery in reverse. Spasmodic Dysphonia causes the vocal chords to overadduct (overshut) on a spasmodic or intermittent basis, cutting off words or parts of sentences. Spasmodic Dysphonia is not caused by stress, but sometimes is more noticeable under stress.
During those eighteen months, I read sixty books on public speaking and writing. It taught me so much about clarity and focus, giving me a passion to communicate, making the most of what I had.
On May 25th 1982, I had surgery at VGH by Dr. Murray Morrison in a successful operation that allowed me to speak again and go back preaching after being off for a year. My GP thought that I would never preach again, and he would have been correct, except for having had this surgery. They cut the left laryngeal nerve of the left vocal chord, which stopped the adducting/shutting of that chord. As the right chord still overadducted/overshut, it balanced out. After my surgery, my voice was free of the spasms, but was initially much quieter and more breathy.
From 1982 to 1987, I served as the assistant priest at St. Matthew’s Abbotsford. As Abbotsford was a bible belt, they had a spiritual column in the local newspaper which I began to write in. Around 80,000 people read my columns, giving me significant feedback, mostly positive. People have said to me for years that I should write books. They also encouraged me to get my doctorate.
In 1987, I became the Rector of St. Simon’s North Vancouver. The local Deep Cove Crier newspaper asked me in 1988 if I would start up a spiritual column. Little did I know that I would still be writing for this monthly newspaper twenty-six years later. I was also privileged to co-ordinate a weekly ‘Spiritually Speaking’ column for the North Shore News from the years 2,000 to 2010. With well over 360 articles published, God helped me develop my passion for writing. People kept encouraging me to write another book. In 2006, Battle for the Soul of Canada was written, receiving an award from The Word Guild. I was privileged to be interviewed about my book and the Anglican situation on most major Canadian TV, radio and newspaper stations.
I worked for a number of years writing the sequel book on Titus ‘Restoring Health: Body, Mind and Spirit’. During that time, I finished my Doctor of Divinity on the area of Strengthening Marriage: Bridging Emotional Cutoff. With what I have learned about writing from the Write! Canada conferences and The Word Guild, it enabled me to finish my part-time doctorate in just four years. A huge part of finishing a doctorate is writing numerous essays, including a final 300-page Doctoral Thesis.
With the growth of social media and the internet, over 755,000 people have read my four hundred articles online. Writing and communication is continually to be radically impacted by the hi-tech revolution. Nothing is remaining static.
Through extensive coaching with Dr. Terry Walling, I have mapped my potential next six books, using the umbrella concept “Strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders’. Losing my voice helped me find my writing voice. Everything that is against us can be turned by Jesus to our advantage. While God did not give me spasmodic dysphonia, I am grateful that God has brought much good from this trauma over the years.