If, like most people, you have some reason to communicate verbally with others during the course of a typical day, a wired jaw may require you to make some adjustments. Unfortunately, I don’t have any particularly good advice, here, but there were a few things that helped me.
- Send e-mail – This is perhaps obvious and self-explanatory, but you may find it easier to send e-mails rather than make phone calls when possible.
- Go places with a friend or family member – If you travel with somebody who can talk for you, you’ll cut down on the number of times you need to explain your situation.
- Practice talking – Talking with your friends and family can help you learn to speak more clearly. If nobody’s around, talk to yourself. If you don’t know what to say, just think out loud. Don’t worry, nobody’s around to hear you.
- Anticipate your conversations – You can’t anticipate everything you’ll need to say, but some things are to be expected. Pretty much anywhere you go, people will ask, “How are you doing?” At the grocery store, you’ll face questions like “Debit or credit?” and “Paper or plastic?” Practice your responses, and change your wording to something that’s easier to pronounce if you have trouble with something. For example, if “Debit” comes out sounding too much like “Credit”, try saying “ATM” instead.
- Carry a pad of paper – I never did this, but I wished I had access to one when I went to see a doctor during my first week wired. Alternatively, you could try a chalkboard (it worked for Homer Simpson).
I’ll conclude by emphasizing that it really is possible to sound relatively normal with a wired jaw (with the caveat that this may vary on a case by case basis). Kanye West recorded a song with his jaw wired shut. For my own part, I did my regular teaching for two of the three weeks when my jaw was wired. I didn’t sound completely normal, but I definitely had some conversations with strangers who didn’t realize that they were talking to somebody whose jaw was wired shut. So practicing can be worth it.