Duane Miller’s greatest enjoyment came from preaching at his small church and singing songs of worship. It wasn’t just his livelihood to lead a Baptist congregation in Brenham, Texas; it was his passion, his calling, and his source of joy and satisfaction.
When he awoke with the flu one Sunday morning, his throat was like sandpaper and his voice would “catch” on words. Each syllable was painful to speak. The flu soon disappeared, but his windpipe remained ablaze and his voice reduced to a raspy whisper. His throat felt constricted, as if someone were choking him.
For all practical purposes, Miller’s voice was gone. No longer able to preach, he resigned from his pastorate. He eventually landed a government job researching records—a position he then lost because his inability to speak meant he couldn’t testify in court about his findings. Insurance stopped covering his treatments, and he faced thousands of dollars in medical bills.
“For the first time in my life, I felt utterly useless. My income, my future, my health, my sense of well-being, all were suddenly beyond my control. It was a terrifying and humbling experience,” he said.
Over three years, he was examined by 63 physicians. His case was even scrutinized by a Swiss symposium of the world’s leading throat specialists. The diagnosis: the flu virus destroyed the nerves of his vocal cords, rendering them limp. When Miller asked about his prognosis for recovery, a doctor told him, “Zero.”