Taylor Swift’s music helped local woman relearn speech

Photo courtesy of Laura Gregory Laura Gregory at the Taylor Swift concert in Kansas City on July 7, 2023.

Laura Gregory attributes Taylor Swift to returning her voice after losing it following brain surgery.

Gregory has suffered from epilepsy since she was five years old. When she was a junior in high school in 2008, she suffered from over 100 seizures in one hour.

This led to Gregory having to have three brain surgeries in less than two weeks.

After the surgeries, doctors told her a side effect is she may never walk or talk again.

"When I woke up from the surgery, I felt like I was still there, and had all the stuff I wanted to say, but nothing was coming out," Gregory said. "In my mind, I was terrified."

For the first week after surgery, Gregory couldn't speak or walk at all but was able to slowly gain some motor function back after therapy. However, her words "came out backward," Gregory said.

To help develop her speech, her vocal therapy coach suggested she learn to speak through singing. The coach said it would help her memorize word order and relearn how to say words.

"I was going to do anything I could to get my voice back because that was one of my biggest fears," Gregory said.

Taylor Swift was still an up incoming artist at that time. Gregory requested that she practice speech by singing songs from Taylor Swift's debut album, "Taylor Swift."

At first, her coach would print out the lyrics of her songs and have her practice sounding out words. Then, Gregory was able to sing the words while her coach played the acoustic guitar.

In total with surgeries and recovery, Gregory was in the hospital for about two months.

During that time, all the nurses in the hospital began knowing her as Taylor Swift's biggest fan.

"Anytime anybody would hear Taylor Swift playing they knew it was me," Gregory said. "They'd be like, 'Oh, yep, Laura's practicing again.'"

Now, at 32 years old, Gregory can talk and walk on her own. She has her driver's license, owns a home, has a job and lives independently.

"Her music is how I learned to talk again," Gregory said. "I'm so glad that I'm able to achieve what I've done, and a lot of it is because of her music."

Gregory's home is decorated to commemorate Taylor Swift, and she even has a pink Christmas tree with Taylor Swift ornaments on it.

Gregory has also attended every Taylor Swift tour, since the Fearless Tour.

Recently, she attended the Eras Tour in Kansas City on July 7. It was "the most fantastic thing ever," she said.

Her favorite thing about Taylor Swift concerts is that the fans are "super nice and super sweet" and "nobody makes you feel bad about liking Taylor Swift," Gregory said.

During the first night of her Kansas City concert, Taylor Swift played "Long Live", for the first time live since her Reputation Tour. This is Gregory's favorite Taylor Swift song.

"I've been a fan ever since day one, and she wrote that song, like to her fans," Gregory said. " I like it because of all the memories I've made over the years at all of her concerts on each tour."

Gregory feels as if she has "grown up" with Taylor Swift, she said.

"Taylor's music has always been there for me and got me through a lot of things when not many people were always there," Gregory said.