Red Bank Regional Principal Risa Clay is speaking out — about a health issue that has limited her ability to speak.
In a essay posted on the school website last week, Clay opens up about the physical and emotional challenges of dysphonia, a a neurological disease of the vocal cords that she’s been battling for the past six years.
The ailment, which alternately makes her sound like she has a cold, is “about to burst into tears” or angry, resisted medical treatment, which involved repeated injections into her larynx, Clay wrote.
“Now, I choose my words,” Clay wrote. “There are times I decide they’re not so important because the effort is too great. Casual conversations have definitely declined. And loud restaurants or loud social gatherings — nothing is more frustrating. Even on good voice days these situations make it impossible to be heard.”
Last year, Clay said, she began “a new journey to improve my health with an intense diet and exercise program” that proved a struggle, but eventually gave her control over her body and the ability to “accept that I could not control my voice, but I could build upon my strengths in other areas.”
Clay also addresses her reason for going public.
“Why am I sharing this? First, to bring awareness to a little known neurological disorder that, while not life threatening, is certainly life altering,” she wrote. “But more importantly to send the message that there will be things in life we cannot control. We can choose to surrender or we can refuse to let these things control us and our destinies.”