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January 2009 Spasmodic Dysphonia Treatment Clinic
George - AD/SD 10 years : voice therapy, acupuncture, botox injections every four months from 1998 until December 2006
My voice improved 30% at the clinic and I learned to “let go” when blocks occur and that an awareness of deep full breathing is imperative all the time. Every instructor at the clinic has developed incredible knowledge and techniques which were all helpful. In reality, each technique, service and idea is perfectly introduced as the weakness appears. The ideas make it easier to move back to the basics and then move on with the improvement.
EM– AD/SD with tremor 4 years: no prior treatment
My voice improved 50% at the clinic. I learned to speak faster so the spasms aren’t allowed to happen. I learned to fully breathe into my belly and to breathe while talking. Being with others who had SD was beneficial. They supported me and encouraged me. All the various techniques for breathing and voice were helpful. I learned what pitch makes my voice sound better and how to get to that pitch. I appreciated the individual sessions tailored to me and I learned what I should and should not do for my voice to improve. The techniques and instructions will help me to achieve my goals.
Marja –AD/SD 2 years: No prior treatment (Marja traveled all the way from Finland, coming to the US alone, with English as her second language. We were all in awe of her courage and determination and know she will beat her SD!)
I experienced ease and more resonance in the voice and full breathing. My solar plexus relaxed and my energy was aroused. After being diagnosed with SD, you are facing big challenges. You wonder “Will I ever get my voice back and what are the options for a cure, if any?” I was offered botox and I refused it. I went to the internet and found two places to go: Dr. Cooper or Connie Pike’s clinic. I chose the clinic because of the approach used, with a multiprofessional team and a mind/body/spirit approach. I wanted to be cured as a whole. As I entered the clinic, I met my first SD colleague and was surprised by the variances and of the severity of the disease.
During five powerful days, we shared tools in terms of relaxation, breathing, voice rehabilitation, psycho-social issues, nutrition, spiritual issues, and developed a compliance plan. Being with five others with SD gave me inspiration, courage and caring love to face my SD and get rid of it. Connie and Mike are real pioneers in their fields with the courage to use this approach since 99% of the medical society treats it differently. They have chosen the RIGHT WAY and I am more than privileged to have found them.
Johnna – AD/SD 19 years but diagnosed 2 years ago: medication, psychological consultation, EMDR, Healing Touch, herbal supplements
My voice improved 50% at the clinic. It became more resonant with fewer breaks and less effort. I gained deeper, easier breathing, awareness of abdominal breathing and supportive posture. Having the hands-on experience with Connie and Mike was invaluable. It enabled me to have “right practice”. These were actual training sessions. They were able to show, demonstrate, mold and correct in ways not possible without their one-on-one touch.
Having training take place with others going through the same process turned this into a loving and healing process for all of us. It was a much more sacred space than I had imagined and allowed for a deeper level of insight and peeling away at the many layers of SD. This could not have been accomplished without such great support. It was a life-changing experience that I am profoundly grateful for and whole-heartedly recommend to anyone who is considering it.
Belinda – AD/SD or possibly functional dysphonia 11 years: Dr. Cooper’s DVR, individual work with Mike and Connie over the past several years, botox
Belinda did not get the big breakthrough to her voice she had hoped for. She did develop a consciousness not to whisper and learned relaxation and breathing techniques that were helpful. She found the psychological assessment/consultation a fantastic and wonderful insight and experience, as well as the group dynamics and support. She has a plan in place and renewed hope that she will find her voice.
Amy – AD/SD 3 years: 4 botox injections
2 Corinthians 4:13 “…I believe therefore I speak.”
I have had SD for 3 ½ years. Following my first botox treatment, the medical community literally said these words to me, “Mrs. Harris, you need to accept the fact that you have this disorder and your only hope is botox.” Those became fighting words to me. Although I did receive 3 more botox treatments, I continued to search for other options. Botox always provided some relief from strain but my voice never sounded good.
A friend had heard about Connie Pike and I began to research. I ordered her book and for the first time, I knew someone understood. I have at least six good friends who are speech therapists and they all say that SD is so rare, they really don’t know what to do. One gave me lots of things to try but just never found much of it to be helpful. It took a speech therapist to have this disorder to fight her way out for all of us to have hope. Connie for me was that picture of hope.
The clinic was so important for me because it looked at my individual case and focused on just what I needed. All six of us had unique needs. We all had breathing problems. Mike’s breathing techniques opened up something within me on the very first day and I could feel my chest open and air actually flow down to my diaphragm. It was a wonderful feeling to BREATHE! We worked on this throughout the week and my breathing is so much better now. Connie was able to help me with pitch and this was huge for me. We discovered other challenges that SD brings on so there are specific exercises that she gave me to help with those.
I brought home tools (books, computer software, exercises and other devices to help me continue my recovery at home. I now have a voice. I really do! It is like an old friend has not only come for a visit but decided to stay. I have to work really hard on it because I am training my brain to speak in a different way. This is not for the faint of heart. If you are ready to fight the good fight, then pack your bags and get the tools you need to win your voice back. This is not a cure – it is hope! You may always have SD but you certainly find a new pathway from which to speak. It is the equipment for success but you must have the desire and the motivation to just “do it” everyday.
When I left the clinic to fly home, I sat next to a lady and had an hour and a half conversation with her. That in itself was a huge success. At the end of the flight, she said to me “If you had not told me, I never would have known you had anything wrong with your voice.” For the first time in years, I had a “free to speak” experience.
My prayer for you if you are considering this clinic is that you find hope to fight the good fight against SD and know that success is possible. No one has the right to take away your hope.