Sheinelle Jones Returns to Today After Vocal Cord Surgery: I Learned the 'Power of Listening'
Sheinelle Jones underwent vocal cord surgery in February
It’s back to work for Sheinelle Jones.
Jones returned to the third hour of Today on Monday after undergoing vocal cord surgery six weeks ago. Like most of the show’s journalists, Jones signed on from home amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
“It feels very weird. What did I miss?” she joked. “It’s good to see you guys.”
The co-anchor of the NBC morning show underwent surgery to remove a polyp on her vocal cord that was harming her ability to speak. Recovery meant total vocal rest, so Jones had to remain totally silent for several weeks.
Jones, 41, said she learned several valuable lessons during her recovery.
“The gift of silence and being still,” she said. “We’re all so busy, very rarely do we give ourselves permission to sit still, and in that I found clarity, I found peace.”
“At first it was very difficult, I’m not gonna lie, ordering a chai tea on a memo board or trying to talk to the kids,” she added. “But after I just embraced it, I kind of found a gift in that.”
But she said the time without her voice allowed her to become a better listener.
“And the second thing is the power of listening. We can apply that to the situation that we’re in right now. You’re home with your kids this morning or you’re with your spouse probably more than you’re used to,” she said. “I noticed that when you can’t speak, your ears perk up and you’re hearing things that you’ve never heard before.”
Jones is the mother to son Kayin, 10, and twins Uche and Clara Josephine, 7, with husband Uche Ojeh.
Now that she can speak, Jones said she hopes to carry these lessons with her in the future to have better, deeper conversations.
“My kids were more inspired to talk to me, and now that I can talk again, I’m committed to trying to keep that, if you will, to listen more in all areas of our lives,” she said. “I think it’s been really helpful. So I found a gift in all this really.”
In February, Jones told PEOPLE that she opted for the surgery after struggling with her voice for months.
“It’s to the point where people at home have no idea what I do just to get ready for a show in the morning,” she said. “When I get a call that I have to track a story early in the morning, I get up like 30 minutes early so I can do exercises on my throat just so that I don’t sound hoarse.”
Jones had surgery on Feb. 24 and woke up from the procedure trying to talk.
“I just wanted you to know that I’m okay, and to thank you for all of your messages and prayers,” Jones wrote on Instagram following the surgery. “Apparently I emerged out of anesthesia ‘talking’ …. I was out of it… I just remember a male voice kindly but firmly telling me to ‘please stop talking.’☺️ At the time, I was trying to tell them that I was ‘awake’ and not to use the breathing tube yet lol — but clearly they were already finished.”
Soon after that, she said, she became overcome with emotion.
“Once I was alone in post recovery … I started crying through my oxygen mask… the nurse rushed over and gave me a pen to scribble what was the matter. Honestly, nothing was wrong — I think it was just a release … this has been a long time coming and I’ve struggled off and on for so long…. I also felt like I was wrapped in prayers …. it felt like such a powerful moment,” Jones added.