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January 2010 Spasmodic Dysphonia Treatment Followups


Betty – AD/SD, MTD 18 years:  No formal treatment, no medications. History of counseling and alternative treatments including Reike, relaxation techniques, vitamins and supplements, and some hypnosis.


January 2011 - In June, five months after the clinic, Betty was granted a leave of absence from her teaching job for the 2010/2011 school year. She worked with Connie to obtain disability due to her SD. She continued to experience difficulty with her voice, and in September, decided to try Botox.


“After an initial improvement in the quality of my voice during the clinic as well as about a week afterwards, my voice progressively deteriorated. I highly value my experience there, being introduced to a wide variety of techniques, the camaraderie of my fellow participants, and the inspiring example of Connie’s rehabilitated voice. With my further declining voice, I made the difficult decision to go ahead and try Botox for the first time. The side effects were horrendous and lasted an entire month. Once through that, over the past three months I have experienced the joyous return of my voice, which has inspired me to continue this fight. I have pursued emotional release therapy and it has been extremely beneficial. Connie was very helpful in filling out my disability paperwork and both she and Mike were supportive.” With Botox working effectively, Betty rated her voice as significantly improved.


Connie S – Ad/SD with symptoms for 11 years, diagnosed in 2000 at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Botox injections from 2001 – August 2009.


January 2011 - Connie rated her voice as moderately improved at the follow-up and her Voice Handicap Index score had decreased 36 points, moving her from the severe to the low-moderate category of handicap. She also sent a DVD of her speaking at church about the healing that was occurring in her life and it was very moving and her voice was strong, even in a public presentation!


Analee – AD/SD with symptoms beginning in the mid 90’s. History of speech therapy, followed by Botox injections for 6 years. Took a sabbatical in 2007 to stop the botox injections and explore alternatives. Tried Reiki, acupuncture and voice exercises from Morton Cooper’s book. Looking to change career to teaching.


January 2011 - Eight months after the clinic, Analee reported that she was very pleased with her voice quality overall. She was able to see that anticipation of difficulty and public speaking caused her voice to be weak and shaky. She was teaching 5th grade and experiencing good voicing in the classroom. She stated, “I feel so fortunate to have found you and Mike so I could finally, finally really get my voice back.”


Analee reported improved control over her voice and her life and felt the clinic to be a good investment. She felt that she had been 50-75% compliant to her program and that her voice was moderately improved. Her VHI had decreased 48 points, moving her from the severe to low moderate range of handicap. She stated in an email that certain situations still triggered shakiness in her voice but that “I’m in the process of recovering my voice, I know it.”


Connie ran into Analee in a yoga class in 2013 and she sounded wonderful.  She is teaching, as she desired.


Lynn –AB/AD, MTD with onset in 1998. Symptoms worsened the past 3 years: speech therapy, chiropractic, allergy testing, acupressure, EFT, yoga.


January 2011 - Lynn was not experiencing improvement in her voice at the time of feedback. She felt that she had been 100% compliant, but that her attitude had recently shifted from “correction of a speech problem” to “dealing with letting go of emotional fear related to post-traumatic stress and gaining self-confidence”. She reported a 21-point decrease in her VHI, which is statistically significant, but her score remained in the severe range. I encouraged her to work diligently on the emotional component and then resume her voice rehabilitation, using her clinic DVD to remind her of what she could accomplish.


Later she wrote:


“Connie - Thank you so much for the support! WOW, your comments are right on the money!!  Especially when you stated that ‘when underlying mindbody issues are strong, they work against my attempts to regroove the voice.’  Yes, yes, that describes my situation to a tee.  UGH, SO frustrating!!


I stumbled across a psychotherapist while I was pursuing physical therapy and biofeedback. I've been talking to her once a week for almost 4months....she, too, had told me that it's possible that I have latched on to the voice problem in order to divert attention from painful emotions within my subsconscious (fear, guilt, confidence).  I'm not so sure I believe in that kind of ‘reasoning’, but I suppose it makes sense, especially since I now recognize how long I've been holding on to a lot of emotions for many years.  (we also did hypnosis, but i didn't find it to be beneficial or long-lasting). So now it begs the question, now that I have awareness, HOW do I release myself from these emotions???  That's what I haven't been able to do, even with therapy I'm struggling with what I need to do to get better. Also, as you say ‘a shift in consciousness, awareness, acceptance, action process so that the voice is released’...again, you're right on the money!!  I am now in the ‘awareness’ phase, and now seeking an action process.  Meditation has never been one of my strong points. I've tried many techniques, types, classes, tapes at home, mind wanders often and I'm just not the type of person that can meditate.


I have found, however, that massage therapy is SO therapeutic for me; it's been the only thing that relaxes me. My job consists of about 9hrs a day, then I workout, so I only have about 2hrs a night for ‘me’ time.  The cost of weekly massage therapy is high, so if you have any additional "action process" suggestions, I'm all ears!


Your comments have been very enlighting, thank you so much for taking the time to offer your thoughts and motivation.  It's SO helpful indeed!”


Richard – Essential tremor, vocal tremor 5 years: speech therapy, botox injections 1/2007 – 8/2009, medications for anxiety and acid reflux, Alexander technique, acupuncture, massage, meditation.


January 2011 - Richard obtained his goal of becoming free to speak without Botox! His feedback included “The clinic was pivotal, and my friends who could hear me before and after would certainly agree. Thank you, Connie, for doing what you do and doing it so well.” He rated his voice significantly better, and VHI decreased 39 points, moving from the moderately handicapped range into the no handicap range (score of 14).


February 2010 Spasmodic Dysphonia Treatment Follow-ups


Jim: SD, 20 years with history of gastric reflux


February 2011 - Jim reported more control over his voice and life. Best helps included Roger Love’s book, placing the voice forward, the kazoo and straw exercises and Voiceprint. Jim did not take advantage of the follow-up time as he did not feel that he needed it. He did not specifically follow the protocol of his compliance contract but rather developed his own routine of voice exercises out of what he had learned. He rated his voice as significantly improved. Jim noted, “The trauma of SD was as much or more psychological as physical. The clinic helped with that aspect of the problem in addition to improving mechanical voice production. The clinic was well structured and executed. I will always be grateful and would strongly encourage any SD sufferer to avail themselves to the Free to Speak Clinic.” VHI decreased 29 points. He offered to speak with anyone wanting more information about the program.


RK: AB/SD approximately 2 years, occurring suddenly after a bout of laryngitis and several years of stress. She saw Dr. Blitzer in New York City, who did not recommend Botox for AB/SD. She was offered medication by her neurologist, but chose Chinese herbs and nutritional support instead.


February 2011 – “Attending the clinic last April was a significant step in the healing of my voice. It was comforting to meet others who were afflicted by the same experience and how they were seeking positive change from it. In particular, it was very inspiring to see how Connie had gained back her freedom to speak. It also was a time to set intentions to heal the various aspects in my life that needed addressing that were contributing to the worsening of my SD.


Towards the end of the seminar and a short period afterwards, I was able to speak with much more freedom than I had in a long time, which was great. I continued with the exercises I learned and adhered to my program 100% for a month. However, I lost some of that freedom and was plagued by strong spasms, which I found frustrating.


I then started a therapy directed at removing toxic agents from the body. It (Field Control Therapy) was very powerful, and eliminated the presence of spasms in my throat almost completely. I made so much progress; I no longer pursued the exercises with the same vigor as before. I still hum a lot, but that is basically it.


Attending the clinic was a very good investment; as it put me in touch with others who had the same difficulty, helped me set clear intentions, and identify the need to remove major stressors in my life. Today, compared to before the seminar, my voice is 90% normal, 100% of the time.” VHI decreased from 71 (Severe) to 7 (normal); a total of 64 points.


October / November 2010 Spasmodic Dysphonia Treatment Follow-ups


BJ – AD/SD, MTD 2 years:  Prilosec for LPR, s/p thyroidectomy, 6 day treatment with Morton Cooper 2010


September 2011: “I feel my voice has improved slightly and that the clinic was a good investment. The breathing techniques, practice of voice pitch, and the lasting friends and support were the biggest helps. I was approximately 20% compliant to my contract and did not follow-up with Connie.” VHI decreased 20 points. 


Barbara– AD/SD with symptoms since 1992 at age 65, diagnosed after several years visiting various ENT doctors and had regular botox treatments every 3-4 months for 18 years. 


July 2011: “My voice is moderately improved and I feel the clinic was a good investment. I learned to be patient and how to breathe properly and exercise my voice. My doctor noticed that my voice was very much improved, that I was no longer missing words like a cell phone cutting out. The speech therapy with Connie and the week at the clinic was invaluable.” VHI decreased 26 points, moving from the Severe range to the Moderate range of handicap.


Karen– Vocal tremor one year preceded by hoarseness and difficulty speaking since 2006 and head tremor 2005. Pharmaceutical management, 3 Botox treatments


July 2011: “I loved the clinic and it met my expectations. I am not using botox now, but continue pharmaceutical management for the tremors. Compliance was around 20% and voice is slightly better. I am more out-going and social and I haven’t given up.”


Lisa – AD/SD October 2009 following a severe sinus infection, diagnosed at Vanderbilt September 2010. Botox was recommended but declined.


July 2011: “The clinic was totally a great investment – I know my experience with Connie directly related to my 99% improvement of my voice. I was 90% compliant to my contract. When I viewed my DVD, it was a bit scary to hear the old SD voice but was very insightful. My voice is normal now, and some days I never think about it. I think that the clinic, along with gabapentin have contributed to my success. VHI decreased 45 points, moving from the moderate range of handicap to No handicap. I don’t yet have my singing voice back to the level it was before SD but I am considering returning to theater roles.”


Bob – AD/SD 5 years: Speech therapy, 4 botox injections (unsuccessful)


July 2011: My level of progress (slightly better voice) is solely my own fault and circumstances. I learned that if I do the things I learned at the clinic, my voice will improve. I was 25% compliant, but have had major stressors in my life. I hope to devote more time to my recovery in the future. VHI decreased 23 points.


Kristy – AD/SD, 2 years, reflux medication, two speech therapy sessions, 4 botox injections which were successful but with side effects


July 2011: I definitely do think I gained more control of my voice and my life, with less struggle. There is no way I would have made it through without botox shots the way my voice was before the clinic. Even if I do go back to botox, I think I will have a healthier perspective of the ups and downs of my voice. I enjoyed my follow-up visit and I felt it was so easy to talk to Connie and my voice felt almost normal. I watched the DVD frequently and rate my voice as moderately improved. The breakthrough at the clinic was dramatic but the progress curve has been slower than I had imagined.


VHI decreased 31 points.


*In December 2011, Kristy decided to return for a botox treatment. 


Clara –AD/SD 2 years; speech therapy


June 2011: Clara reported that she was unable to maintain the gains she made at the clinic and that she had decided to use botox treatment. She was pleased with the results of the injection and planned to continue. VHI had decreased 27 points.

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