I was recently diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia (SD). It’s a neurological disorder that causes my voice to crack and sound raspy and strained like I have laryngitis. I’ve had this condition since high school when I remember dreading to make speeches in front of the class because I hated the sound of my voice. Throughout college and my career as an engineer I have been hampered by the inability to make a good presentation or speak in front of a group. Of course, this led to a loss of self esteem, poor performance reviews, etc. It has taken me over 40 years to discover that my problem has a name and that it can possibly be treated. All this time I thought that my terrible voice was something I was born with and caused by nervousness, or fear of public speaking and there was nothing that could be done about it.
The exact cause of SD is not known. There is no cure, but treatments can improve the condition. The recommended treatment is Botulinum toxin therapy (Botox). The Botox is injected into the muscles of the vocal chords. The effects are temporary and last about 3 to 4 months depending on the patient. Each patient reacts differently to the treatment and the dosage may need to be adjusted higher or lower depending on the reaction. I received my first injection one week ago. My doctor warned me that it would take 1 to 2 weeks for my voice to improve. So far, I have experienced hoarseness, difficulty swallowing my medications and vitamins (especially those large fish oil lozenges) and a “breathy” soft voice. I’m hoping that this will soon pass and the potential benefits of the Botox will kick in. I’ll keep you all posted about what happens in the next few weeks.
If you know anyone that you think might suffer from this condition, please tell them that there may be a solution. An internet search showed that an estimated 50,000 people here in the US have this condition, but they believe that this number is greatly underestimated because most people (like me) never thought that it was possible to get treatment.