In March of 2008, Dr. Stephen Goldman, the speech pathologist, who has been there since the beginning of my Botox experience, reminded me that I had a Botox anniversary; this was the twentieth year since my very first shot. I am not sure how many years I had had spasmodic dysphonia without knowing what it was; nor did anyone I had gone to for help know what it was.
The tremor started sometime in the seventies. I had a cold which seemed to turn into laryngitis. When it didn't go away, I started my round of doctors: family physician, ear, nose and throat, neurologist, speech pathologist, acupuncturist, and psychologist. Actually, my best advice on how to cope came from the psychologist who asked me what I told the kids in the classroom about my condition, and I said, "Nothing." I just go on as I always have. He said. "Why don't you tell them about it? I thought about it and did. I told the classes and their parents on back-to-school night. I told them I didn't know what this condition was called, but it seemed to be here to stay. It was not life threatening nor contagious, but it certainly was a major annoyance; however, I believed I could still be an effective teacher.
I taught for 18 years with my pre- botulinum voice. In all that time, I only had one student whose parent requested that her child be transferred to another class.
I transferred to the high school level. I enjoyed the change; however, it was getting more difficult to talk I needed to work and couldn't really think of anything I could do that did not require a voice. I heard that Dr. Dedo in San Francisco was doing surgery on one vocal chord which stopped the tremor. I went to see him, but I felt uneasy. Friends of mine discovered a doctor in Los Angeles that they said was the doctor for the stars and insisted I go to see him. I did and he advised me to wait. He said, "As long as you are teaching, and I don't know how but you are, wait a little longer. I think there is something coming along." Not too long after that,
A friend of mine who lives in the East sent me an article from the Health Section of the New York Times. The article was about a break through in a condition called Spasmodic Dysphonia. I wrote to him; he wrote back and said I sounded like a prime candidate. I was fortunate that UCSD was one of the three universities testing this new procedure. I went, was accepted in the trial program, and have been thankful ever since. I am grateful to the excellent doctors who have treated me over the past 20 years, especially to Dr. Lisa Orloff with whom I was with the longest.
My favorite story is about the reaction to my first botox shot. I had it during spring break and did not tell anyone at school what I was going to do, First period began: I started to talk. I saw the kids looking a each other, and finally one young man raised his hand and said, "What happened, Mrs. Waslosky?" I told them, and I think they were as elated as I was. When they went to their next class, they told their respective teachers "Go to Mrs. Waslosk's class . Ask her to talk." I had a steady stream of visitors the rest of the day.
Right up there with my wedding day and the birth of my children, I think that day is etched in my heart.
As I read this over, I realized I wrote about my history of living with SD, but I I did not specifically answer the questions on how SD impacted my life for the better, what lessons I have learned, and how
SD has made me live my life more boldly. I am not sure that SD has done those things. I loved speech and debate in high school. We won the 1948 Massachusetts State Debate Award. I still wish I had that voice, but I did learn the importance of family, friends, and coworker/friends who were there for the whole cycle: before, during, and after SD.
SD has been a part of my life for almost 35 years. I've coped with it an.