Ronda Clarke

May 2000

My story begins perhaps like most others.well, almost! At close to 50 years old I made a career change and moved from sea level to the high dessert to pursue a life long dream to sing with a band. For six months I enjoyed my new life, singing most every weekend. Suddenly I found myself not being able to talk, but I could still sing! After several doctors, I discovered I had a thyroid problem. I thought medication would take care of the situation, but alas.not true. Temporarily my speaking voice returned, but it was harsh and squeaky.

I was examined by an ENT who seemed stumped by my situation. He indicated my vocal chords were fine and suggested I see a speech pathologist at the local college. The speech department did a thorough exam. (Which I have to admit was a fascinating experience.) After several sessions with a specialist, my voice was still not returning. I tried not talking, (Which for me was EXTREMELY difficult!), I drank more water thinking the change in environment may have something to do with my voice change, I took mucus thinning medication, antacid meds.I didn’t even sing for a while for fear of doing damage to my vocal chords. All seemed in vain. Nothing helped retrieve my speaking voice.but I could still sing! I was being told that shouldn’t be possible. (I figured I was just a walking Masters’ thesis!)

A few months later I developed a severe case of strep throat. I just couldn’t kick it. I’d be on medication for a week, then OK for a few days, then back on medication again. I was told if I had another bout of strep, the ol’ tonsils would be coming out. A revisit to the ENT confirmed I was NOT doing any damage to my vocal chords by singing, so with a bit of a sigh of relief, I returned to the stage. I could sing every song as before, but once again the audience found it difficult to understand my spoken words. I repeated myself on a regular basis, and even at times chose not to was just easier that way. My day job at the local Public Television Station also required a lot of speaking, which I found difficult to perform. Needless to say, I was getting more and more frustrated every day. Wondering if my voice would permanently take on the characteristics of Minnie Mouse.

Out of the blue, a friend of a friend of a friend gave me Dr. Cooper’s name, number and web site. I looked up his web page, read the testimonials and thought – what the heck – I’ll give him a call. Now I’m not one to just jump in feet first, so I did some calling around. Checking out his past. After a few phone calls I was reassured I had nothing to lose, so I phoned his office. Low and behold I was able to talk with him personally, which at first sent up a red flag to me. (What Doctor is available to talk on the phone to CURRENT patients, yet alone one he’d NEVER seen before!) After a few questions Dr. Cooper said he knew exactly what was wrong and he could fix it. Yeah, right! Once again the flags went up as I thought first.what doctor would say, “I know EXACTLY what’s wrong with you.” and then, “I can FIX it.” I was really leery now, but there was something about Dr. Cooper that said I needed to see him. So after a little more discussion, I made an appointment for the following Saturday morning.

My adult daughter and I left after work on Friday evening and drove all night. The ten-hour drive seemed even longer due to the fact I couldn’t carry on a conversation with my daughter while driving. (You see.she couldn’t have heard me over the road noise in the car. One more frustration!) We arrived in LA Saturday morning in time for the appointment. The office was locked and I was frightened I may have made the trip for nothing. But alas, Dr. Cooper and several other patients arrived and my fears were a BIT relieved.

When I walked into Dr. Coopers’ office I was amazed at the array of books and articles he had written, the little bit of equipment he had, and his rather nonchalant attitude. But, after all it was Saturday and he had probably been working all week, so I tried to ignore my apprehensions and listen carefully to his commands. It began with a machine I remembered using in my classroom 30 years earlier called a “Language Master”. I recorded my voice on a card so I could actually hear myself as others did. Dr. Cooper reassured me he could help and went straight to the task.

Update: February 2001

It’s been nine months since I met Dr. Morton Cooper. I have performed at a number of musical events including Hot August Nights where I sang EVERY night for a week + my day job! I have been in charge of a National two-day technology conference, which in the past had found my voice, strained, harsh and raspy. NOT NOW! I am confident my voice is here to stay.thanks to Dr. Morton Cooper.