April 29, 2008
Dear Dr. Cooper,
It was a pleasure to speak to you by telephone today. Three years ago this month is the anniversary of my four-week visit to your clinic.
The following is my story:
My name is Timothy Kidwell and I am 49 years old. For 27 years I have been a minister for the Church of Christ as was my father and grandfather before me. To say I live by my voice would be an understatement. Nothing is more important to me than being able to preach the gospel to the lost. I am one of the many success stories that Dr. Morton Cooper can cite regarding the effectiveness of his treatment for those who have been diagnosed with Spasmodic Dysphonia.
My speech problems began in the year 2000 while preaching for a church in central Florida. At first I only noticed trouble with my speech while talking on the telephone. I would struggle with speaking words with certain sounds. This caused me no immediate alarm and I contributed it to allergy problems. But as time continued I realized I was having more and more trouble speaking on the telephone. This seemed strange but caused me no great alarm.
In 2001 I began a new work with a church in central Texas. Over the next couple of years my speech difficulties slowly surfaced during the times that I spoke publicly. I noticed that during times of jocularity that I had no trouble speaking, but when the mood and tone became serious I began to struggle. At this point I started to become concerned.
An appointment was made with an ENT Dr. His diagnosis: Nodules on the vocal cords. Prescription: Rest of the vocal chords. Upon my follow-up visit the doctor informed me that the nodules were gone, but that I probably had acid-reflux and would need to take an acid reducer to stop burning my vocal cords.
After many more frustrating months of gradual deterioration of my speech I made an appointment with another ENT Dr. This doctor informed me within two minutes of entering the room and hearing me speak that I had Spasmodic Dysphonia. He referred me to a speech specialist at the Scott & White Medical clinic in Temple, TX. After several sessions with the speech therapist the diagnosis from the second ENT was confirmed; I definitely had developed Spasmodic Dysphonia. My speech therapist gave me no hope of recovery. I was informed that people with my condition usually only get worse with time. This was devastating news. But, I was then informed that there was a treatment for the symptoms. Botox could be injected directly into a vocal chord causing temporary paralysis allowing air to flow more freely when I spoke. Other than vocal chord surgery, which the doctor admitted was very risky; botox was given as my only choice. By this stage of the SD my ability to sing had completely deteriorated and my speech was seriously compromised. Feeling I had no other option I accepted treatment by injection.
The injection procedure is at best a disturbing process. Many patients have to be sedated in order to prevent panic during the injection. A camera is run through your nose down into your throat. The doctor then sticks a long needle through the outside of your throat and watches his progress on a television monitor as he tries to inject a vocal chord. The patient must sit completely still without swallowing during this procedure. I found this procedure to be one of great stress and discomfort.
Following my first injection I developed a side affect of botox – laryngitis. For almost one month I could hardly speak a clear word. Also I found myself strangling very easily when drinking, eating and sometimes just with normal swallowing. After about a month my voice returned. I was exhilarated. Choking was still a problem but I was willing to deal with that so long as I could talk.
After about three months the injection started to wear off. Over the period of about one year I received a total of four injections. Each injection became less and less effective. The procedure became more and more stressful. During my fourth injection the doctor missed the vocal chord – twice. Two times the botox ran down my throat into my stomach rather than going into my vocal chord. On his third attempt the doctor said, “That might do it.” He said he was not sure how much botox had actually been injected. Strangely enough he still charged me the same amount.
By then I was struggling greatly to preach and teach. I desperately began to search the Internet for possible solutions. Out of all the information I found only one website spoke of a cure for SD. With great interest I read everything printed on Dr. Morton Cooper’s pages. After trying one of Dr. Cooper’s simple exercises on finding my voice’s correct pitch, I was immediately able to speak clearly. With great excitement I went into the kitchen and talked to my wife. She was amazed at what she was hearing. I had regained my voice, but the next day I was unable to maintain a consistent pitch. I had lost my voice as quickly as I had found it. Understanding what I needed to do was easy. Application was very difficult. I needed help. Only one man in the entire world gave any hope of a cure. He is whom I turned to for assistance.
After a brief telephone interview with Dr. Cooper I obtained confidence that a cure for my condition was available. In April of 2005 I traveled to Los Angeles, California, and spent four weeks of treatment under the care and guidance of Dr. Morton Cooper. During that time my speech improved greatly, but I was not cured. However, I did learn the tools that I needed to take me down the road to a cure. After leaving Dr. Cooper’s clinic I continued practicing what I had learned. The first year I was unable to tell much difference. Sometimes I felt my voice was getting worse. But I never quit.
One comment Dr. Cooper regularly made was that “a car can’t run without gas and a person cannot speak without breathing.” That was easy to understand, yet hard to apply. The second year I incorporated my voice exercises with physical exercise. I found that by walking briskly in a swimming pool while talking helped me learn how to breathe and talk at the same time. A person cannot exercise without breathing for very long. It was during this time that it began to “click” for me. As Dr. Cooper would say, “I got it.”
While attending Dr. Cooper’s clinic he would give me material to read. Much of this material contained success stories of patients who had been treated by the good doctor. During one session I pointed to a list of Dr. Cooper’s successes and proclaimed, “One day I am going to be on that list.”
Today, three years later, I am preaching and singing with no trouble. People who knew me a few years ago are amazed at the difference. No one today asks me what is wrong with my voice. I sound normal to them. What a wonderful thing to be – Normal!
I thank God for Dr. Cooper’s knowledge and dedication to share his wisdom with others.
Thank-you Dr. Cooper.
Update: May 15, 2008
Dear SD friends,
By the grace of God working through the knowledge and wisdom of Dr. Morton Cooper I have my life back. Now that my voice has been rehabilitated some in the SD community have questioned whether I really ever had SD.
- I have felt the dread of talking on the telephone.
- I know the loneliness of sitting quietly in a restaurant while the rest of my family and friends are conversing.
- I understand the embarrassment of trying to communicate to others through a portable PA system.
- I have known the intimidation of trying to order food at a drive-through window.
- I have endured the choking and loss of my voice for weeks as a result of the botox injections.
- I have experienced the frustration caused by others not being able to understand what I said.
- I have seen the looks of pain on those who were trying to listen to me speak and of those who wondered what was wrong with me.
- I have been asked by children why I sounded like an old man.
- As a minister I had to concentrate on "how" I was going to speak rather than "what" I was needing to say. For others, talking was just a matter of opening their mouth. For me it took much effort.
- I have experienced the exhaustion that came from continuous speaking for just a few minutes.
- I have struggled with the daily anguish that was brought on by the uncertainty of my future.
But today these things are no longer a factor in my life. I speak freely without fear or embarrassment. But my improvement did not occur overnight. I remember that the appeal of botox shots were the relatively fast results. But they were temporary - every time! And the side effects were sometimes worse than the SD.
It was only when I discovered a technique that allowed me to "find" my voice on Dr. Cooper's website that I changed my outlook on life. If I could find my speaking voice (even for just a few seconds), I believed I could find and maintain it -IF- I worked hard enough. My mindset had changed. No longer would I swallow the "no hope" pill all the experts were prescribing. According to them my destiny was sealed. I was determined to prove them wrong.
After being treated by Dr. Cooper at his clinic I knew I could recover. But the most important factors behind my success have been:
- The desire and belief that I would succeed.
- The refusal to give up. Lack of obvious improvement must not interfere with your routine. You must stick with it!
- Hard work. I am afraid that many SD sufferers will never improve because they are too lazy to keep on keeping on! I have not had "fun" improving my voice. But every minute of effort has been worth it. I have my life back.
If you suffer with SD your voice did not deteriorate overnight. Be patient, but be persistent.
I have felt your pain. I invite you to feel my joy.