After I was diagnosed with ALS, my body functions quickly started to deteriorate. First, I lost the use of my legs. Naturally, I went through a wave of emotions starting with anger, followed by frustration, then sadness, and finally acceptance. With the help of my strong faith I was able to remain hopeful and optimistic. Shortly after, I lost the use of my arms. Needless to say, I went through all of the above emotions again, but being surrounded by my very supportive and loving family, I was able to persevere and remain hopeful.
Then one day, I woke up to find that my voice had changed, followed by days of slurred speech. I knew this could only mean one thing: I was going to lose my ability to speak. My speech started deteriorating, and it was becoming harder and harder for anyone to understand me. Despite digging deep into my faith, I could not find the strength to accept that I could not give advice, share a joke, discuss life, have a conversation, congratulate, or simply say “I LOVE YOU” to my children and husband. As a person, that was extremely hard, but as a mother it was brutal. Frustration and bitterness was building up inside me, I was sinking, and at that point, it felt like I hit rock bottom.
Thankfully that did not last long however, Alhamdulillah (thank God) my husband and my brother found an amazing computer that would help me communicate called Eye-Gaze.
Eye-Gaze is a computer that uses eye-tracking technology, it has a camera attached at the bottom of the screen that is pointed towards my eyes. On the screen, it has a standard computer keyboard, which allows me to type by simply looking at the letters of the keyboard. My eyes then work as the mouse – all I do is simply look at a letter and it types it. Then I look at the speak button and the computer speaks whatever I type. It’s amazing! (the picture at the bottom is of me typing 🙂 ).
I typed my first sentence on a warm summer day at my parents house in Amman. With my whole family gathered around waiting anxiously to see how it would work, I was able to say “I Love You.”
From the day it arrived 9 years ago until this day, nobody has been able to silence me! ha ha. Hence “Technology Threw Me a Lifeline.” Never ever lose hope.
I finally had a voice, and with this new voice came immense happiness, new possibilities, and new dreams.
Fun fact: while I am typing whatever I want to say, I hear my old voice in my head. However, the computer voice comes out very dry and automated – even when I am joking, it comes out serious, ha ha. This means I lost some of my sense of humor with the output, therefore I named my computer “Diva.”