For more information about Spasmodic Dysphonia, go to The National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association's website. While there you might consider making a donation to help fund research on this disorder.
If you read my blog regularly, you know that I have a vocal disorder called Abductor Spasmodic Dysphonia. To review for anyone who isn't a regular reader (and why wouldn't you be??), Spasmodic Dysphonia, commonly called SD, is a neurological disorder in which the nerves connected to the muscles controlling the vocal cords somehow get the message to "freak out." That isn't a medical term but, that is basically what happens. The nerves tell the muscles to spasm and this causes problems. BIG problems.
The most common type of SD is ADductor. This means that the muscles which are spasming are the muscles which close the vocal cords. The spasms cause the muscles to basically "slam the vocal cords shut." Having the cords slammed tightly shut makes it difficult to get air past the cords which, in turn, makes it difficult to speak. A person who has ADSD sounds like he/she is being strangled from the inside.
The second type of SD, ABductor SD (which is the kind I have), means that the muscles which are spasming are the muscles which open the vocal cords. The spasms cause the muscles to hold the cords open and not let them close. Since it is vital to have the cords vibrate near each other in order to create the sound of a voice, people who have ABSD have difficulty talking. They sound like they are whispering all the time.
There are also combinations of the two types of SD in which the muscles controlling BOTH functions of the vocal cords spasm. Also, you can have a tremor thrown in for good measure which causes your voice to tremble.
Luckily, my ABSD is pretty straight forward. I was diagnosed in January of 2007 even though my symptoms started long before then. My ABSD was so bad that I didn't have any voice at all and, in fact, believed for a long time that I would NEVER speak normally again.
** During the period when I assumed that I wouldn't speak normally again I learned to speak utilizing a technique called Inhalation Voicing. I am not going to get into that in this post but, if you would like to know more about this, check out some of my previous SD posts or leave me a comment.
Through many months of pretty intense speech therapy I was blessed to actually recover pretty much all of my normal voice. Both my speech therapist and I are amazed. We think it is a mix of a miracle and hard work.
**Again, I have covered this part of the process in previous SD posts and won't detail it here.
Anyway, for the past couple of years I have been blessed with a pretty much normal voice. Of course, I continue to go to speech therapy and I continue to do my vocal exercises. There have been times when I have taken a few steps backwards mixed with some pretty incredible good times. SD is something that I wish I could forget but, each and every time I start to forget (and consequently lessen my exercises), SD returns to remind me that the two of us will be entwined in the dance of life for the rest of my life.
This fact was brought back to me once more yesterday when I had my speech therapy appointment.
In the past several weeks my life has changed a bit. The major change is that I stopped working as temporary secretary/receptionist/office manager/mother for my speech therapist and her three colleagues. This temporary job lasted about 9 months and I am thrilled to no longer have it because I can now focus on my classes and my poor, neglected kitties. However, this change in my working status also brought about a change in my daily vocal use.
My voice doesn't respond well to overuse but, apparently, it likes being used more than staying home and studying uses it. When I saw my speech therapist, Susan, yesterday she told me that my voice was declining. Declining! After all the blood, sweat, and tears I have put into it (okay - not really blood but the other two are quite literal)!
Can you imagine how upset/depressed I was?
True, there are things I can do to counteract this decline and I WILL be doing them. In fact, I have already started. BUT - it is not a good feeling to find out that your voice, which you recently didn't have at all, is declining. It makes you think - "I am going back to having no voice!" This thought is not exactly accurate because even if my voice declines it is unlikely that I will totally lose it again. BUT - still!
Yesterday wasn't a good day!
Voice Update: Since this entire post is basically an update, I will use this space to let you know what I am doing to counteract this decline in my voice. First, I am continuing to be the local "Crazy Lady" by talking to myself all the time so my voice gets more work. Next, I am going to amp up my exercises (which I had already started to do when I realized what was going on). Then, I am going to make sure that on Wednesdays when I have class - which is American Sign Language and doesn't utilize my voice - that I find opportunities to use my voice more. I have already talked to my classmates about this and they are helping me out with this. They are SOOOOO sweet! Finally, I am going to return to my previous practice of reading out loud. I am not sure if I will record it like I previously did but, I will try to get at least two hours of reading in per day. Whew. Seeing it all laid out like that makes me tired! Just so you know - I am NOT sorry that I quit the job. I needed to focus on class. I just need to make some "adjustments!"