February 20, 2024

“Last night I read five stories to my daughter and this morning I read her more stories again,” says Jordi Roca (Girona, 44 years old), on the other end of the phone in conversation with EL PAÍS. He had not been able to share a moment like this with his four-year-old daughter, Queralt, for years. She wants to make up for lost time. The little brother and pastry chef of the Roca brothers has recovered his voice after seven years suffering from spasmodic dysphonia, as he himself announced in a video posted on Wednesday on his Instagram account (where he has almost half a million followers). That is, a neurological disease that caused him to suffer spasms that, in his case, caused his vocal cords to open, with involuntary muscle contractions, which left him permanently hoarse. He was 37 years old when he became aware that something was happening, that this hoarseness that he had been carrying for months was beginning to be worrying. He remembers it on the other end of the phone: “I had caught laryngitis, from which I recovered, but the hoarseness continued.”

The alarm sounded in 2016 during the trip to New York that he made with his two brothers, Joan and Josep Roca, to participate in the award ceremony for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, in which the Celler de Can Roca came second in the prestigious classification. “That’s when I realized that something was wrong, but that came from before, I was always tired, I got tired when speaking,” he recalls. Four years earlier he had been diagnosed with cervical dystonia, “he always had torticollis”. It was the beginning, although the cook assures that he was not aware of the seriousness of the matter, of a path that ended up becoming a great suffering. “One day you realize you don’t have a voice, but you know you can speak, you remember the fact that you did, and you become obsessed with getting it back.”

During this time, he visited all possible medical specialists: he traveled to the city of Toronto (Canada), to Switzerland, to the United States, to Pamplona, ​​Madrid or Barcelona. He was not discouraged. “It is a rare disease, it is not common, few people suffer from it, but when it happens to you, you see that you are not the only one.” One of the treatments he underwent was botulinum toxin, which temporarily paralyzes and relaxes the muscle. He underwent three sessions, but in his case it did not work. “One of the times it didn’t last long, because in my case my vocal cords opened up and it was more complicated,” he explains. He assures that he faced the big change the day he stopped obsessing over the problem, despite the fact that he has continued to attend to his professional commitments as normal. “I have done everything from vocal reeducation, breathing exercises, meditation, I have done a bit of everything, and everything has helped me, but above all it has been the support of my family, the entire El Celler team and many people who have been by my side”.

Despite the support, he has had very low moments, as he admits. “I have had very sad moments, and for me the refuge has been everyday life, that everything went its way, even if it was hard. There was a moment when I stopped thinking about the problem. There are treatments, but when I stopped obsessing over the subject, something you can’t stop doing because it’s something very physical, I began to notice changes. She says that she has not changed her life, but now he lives it in a different way, “with gratitude, with more calm, I continue working on what I like, but I run away from stress.”

“You don’t know how happy I am to make this video with this voice. With this voice that has stayed with me as a radio announcer at two in the morning ”, begins his publication on Instagram. A few words in which he also qualifies that tomorrow he may not have the same voice, and that he continues with pain and muscle tension in his neck. “Every time I am improving, and I have learned to speak effortlessly, which, oddly enough, costs a lot.” And he adds: “I hope to be one hundred percent very soon.”

“The best is yet to come. It’s going to be a lot of fun, ”she says on his networks. In addition to El Celler de Can Roca and the other businesses opened by the three brothers, including the Casa Cacao hotel in Girona, the Normal and Mas Marroch restaurants, Jordi Roca, together with his wife, Alejandra Rivas, are the architects of Rocambolesc ice cream parlors.

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