Sylvia Cheek

Thirty-three years ago my voice changed forever. I developed spastic dysphonia. It all started after a tonsillectomy and adenectomy, followed by a weird virus that lasted for months. My throat always hurt. I hacked and coughed. Tormented by frequent bouts of laryngitis, I consulted an otolaryngologist who diagnosed the malady as allergies.

My voice wasn't garbled or strangled yet. It just trailed off at the end of sentences, with marked difficulty saying 's' and 't' sounds. After unsuccessful treatment, the specialist referred me to a psychologist and speech pathologist. The psychologist cleaned-out a lot of mental detritus and my wallet. The speech therapy seemed to make my voice worse. I practiced the vocal fry ad nauseum. Now I know that this therapy exacerbated the SD.

Over thirty-two years, I tried every conceivable panacea legally available. Nothing worked. Not hypnosis, acupuncture, vitamin or speech therapy. Not prescribed drugs, love, family or exercise.

Finally, in 1997, a Sarasota ENT doctor referred me to Jackson Memorial Hospital for botulinum injections to treat my 'incurable' disease. After four injections, my voice was totally gone. The outgoing me became reclusive and seriously considered learning to sign as a means of communication. Then, I heard about Dr. Morton Cooper through my speech pathologist and also from my twin sister, Sally, who happened to see him on television.

Dr. Cooper was my last ditch effort to regain a normal voice. Now I thank God, the universe and the people who referred me to this laryngeal Lancelot of speech and language pathology. He not only saved my voice, he saved my life. Now I can function. I have a voice within normal speaking range. Sometimes, I still lose it. If I practice, raise my pitch, and breathe properly (DVR), I quickly regain my voice.

Initially, family, friends, and acquaintances didn't recognize my natural voice on the telephone. In fact, I didn't know it either. Sylvia, the girl who always sang alto, was a natural soprano. Dr. Cooper restored my voice within minutes of our first meeting. This was followed by five weeks of intensive DVR therapy.

Why did I have to travel so far, waste so much of my life and time, to find a method that could have cured my spastic dysphonia over 25 years ago? The medical community dismisses Dr. Cooper's method of voice rehabilitation as a fraud. I know it works. I'm living proof. Dr. Cooper introduced me to doctors, lawyers, teacher, many other people who are recovered or cured SD victims. His techniques should have been available to me sooner. I feel that SD victims suffer needlessly and miss many opportunities because their voice problem is improperly treated.

DVR changed my voice and my life and it can work for others. I thank you Dr. Cooper.

Sylvia Cheek