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March 2012 Spasmodic Dysphonia Treatment Clinic
Michael: AD/SD with MTD with symptoms first noted in late 2009 and diagnosis in January 2010; one week with Morton Cooper, voice therapy, botox injections with varying levels of success, last injection ineffective.
This is (as promoted) a very holistic clinic. It definitely covers a lot of areas pertaining to SD; breathing, mind/body, voice exercises, posture and more. I quickly learned I have to get my pitch lower and more relaxed. Listening to the before and after of my voice was quite inspiring. It really helps to listen to my voice and compare. Just learning to massage and lower my larynx is a great tool. I learned how to anchor my voice (and self) when it might go askew. This is such a positive workshop/clinic. Connie and Dennis have done great jobs. This is most definitely, for me, a more viable and workable solution than botox. I will not go back to botox. I will keep low and open. This is the ticket!
Diane: AB/SD following upper respiratory infections 3 ½ years ago, 2 botox injections with severe complications, voice therapy, previous private instruction with Connie and Dennis, followed by thyroidectomy. The surgeon noted the laryngeal nerve tethered around a large nodule, but there was no vocal fold paralysis.
I made great strides at the clinic, with use of lower pitch and stronger tonal resonance. I learned to speak without whisper. I would encourage anyone thinking of attending Connie’s clinic to absolutely do so. The group dynamic is very powerful to help promoting healing and recovery. Connie and Dennis are both skilled and empathetic, which helps you to feel encouraged and hopeful that what you have learned during the clinic, you can easily apply to your home environment. While improving after private instruction, I felt the clinic was necessary for a full recovery, so I decided to attend. I am very happy that I did because the group support is so beneficial. You can share stories, tips for success, and bond in a way that is healing to your mind/body. Thank you Connie and Dennis, Christine and Robbie. I am sure that I am now on a complete and lasting road to recovery from SD.
KS: Mixed SD 15 years, beginning at age 25, intermittent voice therapy, 12 botox injections with little relief, DVR with Morton Cooper 8 years ago, alternative therapies.
I had a shift to easier voicing about a month before the clinic after reading Connie’s books. I found the breathing instruction in the book to be very helpful. My personal experience with SD has been a long road. Everyday has been a struggle for the past 15 years. I feel like only someone with this experience could understand the magnitude of the struggle.
I have tried many approaches to get relief from the vocal spasms. I traveled to California to see Morton Cooper with little results. I have had many botox injections, hoping that this would make a difference. The results were not consistent and resulted in little improvement for me. I have seen many traditional voice therapists who always recommended botox along with the exercises they taught. I tried hypnosis and acupuncture, but the spasms were always present.
Having just completed the 5 day intensive voice rehabilitation clinic with Connie and Dennis, I can honestly say that this is the first time in years that I have an overwhelming feeling of hope that I can be an active participant in life. I feel free to make myself heard. I have the tools to be successful in restoring my voice. The clinic atmosphere has participated a shift within me. I now truly believe that I don’t have to live life giving one word answers. I am excited about my future and look forward to everything that it holds.
Kay: AD/SD since early 2008, following a head tremor in 1998 and hemi-facial spasms in 2000. Botox injections twice yearly for 3 years with variable results, voice therapy.
I learned to produce voice with less effort and breaks and to have less fear about what I can produce and better acceptance of how I sound. The most important reason for me to consider the clinic was the realization that Connie had personally overcome her SD and offered tools that could help others with SD. Her honesty regarding the fact that it could be an extended period of work (different for some) and there would be plateaus and highs and lows to the quality of the voice was reassuring and helped me from realistic goals and expectations. I regained hope that I, too, could do the work and re-learn to be free to speak again.
Listening to the recordings of my voice on the 1st day compared to the last day was an inspirational way to leave the safe space of the clinic and go back to my world. Being with others with SD was a valuable experience. They had the same fears and hurts and loss of confidence. It didn’t matter what our voices sounded like, there was no judgment, no need to explain anything.
Everyone involved in the clinic added in positive ways, everyday, to the recovery process. I came to the clinic as a skeptic, and I leave with a change of heart, mind, spirit and a new sense of wholeness. I leave with much gratitude and love.
Kimberly: AD/SD since 1997, regular botox injections until 2003 when she had SLAD/R surgery with Dr. Berke, resulting in a paralyzed vocal fold (medial position) and continued SD in the opposite fold. Tried many alternative treatments such as Reike and acupuncture, and psychotherapy.
I recovered the ability to hum, and learned to speak louder with less strain. The clinic was a life changing experience on every level. It gives hope to SD sufferers. The level of attention from experts like Connie and Dennis de-mystified by breath, posture and voice difficulties. The discussion about faith, questioning and letting go on the final day opened my heart to unlimited potential that we all have inside. The Duane Miller tape was truly awe-inspiring, hearing a miracle occur. It could happen for me! Robbie’s consultation was helpful. I loved the yoga class tailored for SD and wanted more of it. Christine is a gifted member of the team.
SD has had a deep impact on my life and the clinic gives me tools to work with. The clinic goes far beyond voice therapy as it seeks to rehabilitate physical, spiritual and mental aspects of SD.
All participants left with stronger voices, upright posture, and brighter faces. It was a joy to witness the transformation.
Alice: AD/SD with symptoms beginning in 2002 and diagnosis in October 2011. She sought a second opinion with Dr. Bastion, and he confirmed the diagnosis and offered botox that day. The shot reportedly resulted in extended whispered voice, squeaky high pitched voice and a return of symptoms. Her son encouraged her to find an alternative.
My voice improved 70% at the clinic. It is less hoarse, higher in pitch and more resonant. My breathing is deeper and fuller.
To anyone with SD considering this clinic, I would say, “Have faith in yourself and a positive mental attitude.” The peer interaction was invaluable.