JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- "Hello, Hello!" says Betty Souther very cheerfully.
She is so thrilled she is now able to greet people and have them actually hear her. For five years, this St. Simons mother of two was not able to speak loud enough for anyone to understand what she was saying. She had to rely on a voice amplifier that looks very similar to what rock stars wear during a concert.
"I couldn't go anywhere without my amplifier. I had two or three" explains Betty.
Betty is a traveling nurse and visits doctors' offices all over Southeast Georgia. She needed to be heard.
"I was exhausted at the end of the day just trying to communicate," says Betty. But, it wasn't always like this. Betty spoke just fine up until 2007 when she caught what she calls a really bad virus.
"I just got this bug that landed in my throat and it constricted and closed. People lose their voice, and after their cold passes they get it back. Mine did not come back," said Betty. She was diagnosed wtih Muscle Tension Dysphonia.
Betty tried medications, physical therapy and nothing worked. That is until she heard about Dr. Claudio Milstein with the Cleveland Clinic and made an appointment.
"I had no hopes. I never prayed so hard as I did in all my life as I did right there in that waiting room," explains Betty.
After a brief exam, Dr. Milstein told her what she had been waiting years to hear, that he thought he could help her. Betty then describes the treatment as a simple adjustment of her throat with his hands. She said Dr. Milstein then asked her to make some sounds. And, when she did, her voice came out loud and clear.
At first, she didn't believe she was actually talking.
"I'm like really. I'm talking. This is really me?" she remembers.
From there on out, Betty said she can not stop talking about how Dr. Milstein helped her. She tells everyone who's interested so she can help others out there who might be living like she did for five years, without a voice.
"Freedom, liberation the ability to communicate" explains Betty. That's how she describes her life now.
According to Dr. Milstein, this procedure is called Laryngeal Repositioning and/or Digital Laryngeal Manipulation. He said that Speech Language Pathologists can perform this procedure. However, he does not know of anyone in the Jacksonville area who does.
First Coast News also searched the web and could not find anyone locally who does this. Betty said she searched all over the country for help, even went to Emory in Atlanta, and could not find anyone to help her.
She learned about Dr. Milstein through an ABC news story with Diane Sawyer. Here's a link to that report: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/functional-dysphonia-vocal-cord-massage-brings-moms-voice/story?id=13613861
First Coast News