September 15, 2004
My name is Ann Allred. In September 2002, I started having tightness in my throat when I would try to speak. It didn’t happen every time I spoke but it did get progressively worse.
I went to many doctors and I was given many different diagnoses such as postnasal drip, throat infection and laryngitis. I was tested for allergic reactions to my animals. I was given Nexium and Prednisone for several weeks to rule out GERD.
I was completely frustrated by this point I started to believe I must have a mystery medical condition that even the best doctors couldn’t figure out.
By January 2003, my voice was completely gone. It felt as though I was being strangled each time I tried to speak. I had a husband, two children, a full time job and literally no voice. This meant I couldn’t answer the ringing phone at work I was embarrassed to help the customers that came to the counter as they were sure to have a remark or two, such as “Are you still sick?”. I missed parent teacher conferences and my kids’ field trips because I couldn’t communicate with other people. I wasn’t able to ask for directions or even order for myself in a restaurant.
Months and months had passed by and I was still no better than when it first happened to me. I was very depressed and in despair.
I went to another local ENT doctor and what I assumed would be another misdiagnosis. Right away, Dr. Tsou said he thought I had Spasmodic Dysphonia. He told me there was no cure but I might get some relief from Botox injected in my vocal cords. Dr. Tsou referred me to Loma Linda Hospital in California. By now I have been without my voice for nearly six months and I was willing to try most anything.
During my visit at Loma Linda I had an extensive examination with Dr. Kim, ENT. He had me do various exercises such as hum and sing Happy Birthday. I couldn’t do either and I would open my mouth and nothing would come out. He did a scope down my throat as I had had done many times before by other doctors. Nothing was found and he was leaning toward the diagnosis of SD. To be sure he set up another extensive examination with Loma Linda’s Speech Pathologist, Dr. Linda D’Antonio. At the end of the exam she diagnosed me with Muscle Tension Dysphonia. She recommended I see a speech therapist.
This took several months to set up and get approved by insurance and it was rapidly approaching one year that I had spoken a single word.
The speech therapy was finally underway in October 2003 and after several months of intensive therapy my therapist recommended I see Dr. Cooper, because we weren’t getting very far.
After a brief telephone conversation with Dr. Cooper he said he couldn’t diagnose me over the phone but he told me it certainly sounded like I had SD. I was unable to afford Dr. Cooper’s fees but had come across the National Spasmodic Foundation Group. I was in real need of support, just one person who could understand what I was going through. This group became friendly towards me right away and soon I started attending their monthly support group in Loma Linda. This group is where they teach that SD is a Dystonia, and there I no cure. Botox is the only answer according to them.
A neurologist spoke at the support group one afternoon and he said there would never be a cure of SD as the problem is in the Basal Ganglia. When I mentioned Dr. Cooper’s name, people that I hadn’t even met were emailing me begging me not to waste my time or money with Dr. Cooper. The support group said that they had no reported recoveries from Dr. Cooper because there is no cure for SD. They also mentioned if anyone says they have a cure, run for the hills, because they are trying to rip you off.
So considering all the factors and not being able to pay Dr. Cooper’s fees I decided to take another look at the Botox option and exclude Dr. Cooper completely.
One afternoon out of the blue Dr. Cooper called me and said “I know I can help you if you will give me at least two weeks of your time.” He also said he understood my financial situation and he would work with me. I gladly agreed. I believe in fate because I was scheduled to have Botox the week of his call.
I am glad to say I never needed a single dose of Botox and within three full days of Dr. Cooper’s techniques and exercises I was talking in my normal voice again. I stayed the full two weeks and I kept practicing what he gave me. I believe I no longer have SD. I went an entire year and one-half without my voice and when I called home the first time with my “new voice” my family was in tears. My customers stop me all the time and want to know how I got my voice back. They agree with me that Dr. Cooper is nothing short of Amazing.
I have my life back and I can’t thank Dr. Cooper enough.