Botox restores Harlem woman's voice

By: Meredith Taylor
By: Meredith Taylor

You lose your keys, your cell phone...some may say even your mind. But what about your voice?

It happened to one woman in Harlem.

News 12's Meredith Taylor shows you how she got it back.

Trish Wheeler likes to have good conversation. That includes even telling her cat to fetch.

But without help, it's hard to come by these days.

"I noticed it would just skip out, total numbers, total words, total letters," Trish says.

Trish has a condition known as spasmodic dysphonia, a neurological disorder.

"It forces you when you speak to sound like you're under a lot of stress, and some people will...[sound] like they are being strangled," says Dr. Gregory Postma, a voice specialist at MCG.

While only about 15,000 people have SD in the United States, the disorder affects family members and friends too.

Trish was worried about her nursing job at MCG.

"The difference in one letter can make or break the medication. The dosage, the 'oh-point-something'. If you left off 'oh-point', the dosage is wrong," Trish says.

After examining Trish, Dr. Postma recommended botox injections--a temporary fix, but, without surgery on the vocal cords, a treatment that will have to continue for a lifetime.

"Well, it's exciting because she stated after she had the first injection, botox injected in involved muscles, her friends were saying, 'Your old voice is back!'" Dr. Postma says.

Right now, Dr. Postma's still working on the right dosage. But with his help, Trish can now do all the things she couldn't do before.

"I really feel like had I not found out about the treatment...I probably would have given up," Trish says.

High stress still bothers Trish when she talks--she even admits our camera made her a little stressed.

She will go back for another treatment soon when her voice starts to leave her again.

But Dr. Postma has to be careful. Even though a higher dosage lasts longer, too much can be dangerous.


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