Spasmodic dysphonia causes involuntary breaks in speech, making the voice sound strained and shaky in the more common adductor form, or breathy and fading away to a whisper in the rarer abductor form. Affecting over 50,000 in the United States, the search for a diagnosis can be a long and frustrating road. Adams’ experience was no different and included visits to multiple doctors, MRI scans, treatment for acid reflux and strep throat, and even a referral to a psychologist. He knew it was not in his head and through his diligence and a few lucky Google alerts, not only did he find a diagnosis but also the treatment that gave him back his voice.
In 2008, Adams underwent a surgical technique called Selective Laryngeal Adductor Denervation Reinnervation. This procedure was pioneered and performed by Dr. Gerald Berke, Professor and Chair in the Department of Head and Neck Surgery at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). The recovery for Adams was not easy but he was not discouraged. Adams kept focusing on the final outcome. And then, three and half months after the surgery, almost to the day, he spoke.
While the larger context of his recently published book, "How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life," is how to embrace and learn from failures to achieve success, his struggle with spasmodic dysphonia is the narrative vechicle that brings it together in the book. Adams shared, “One of my big motivations for writing this book was, in part, for the person who has lost his/her voice to spasmodic dysphonia.”
Spasmodic dysphonia impairs communication and can make it a constant struggle to get sentences out. This can affect relationships often causing people to feel isolated or to withdraw. Adams said “You don’t feel connected to the world just because you are listening. You feel connected when you know you have been heard.” In this new role with the NSDA, Scott Adams will help reach even more people and raise the overall awareness about spasmodic dysphonia. This is one job he will not fail at.
About the National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association
Founded in 1989, the National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association (NSDA) is dedicated to advancing medical research into the causes of and treatments for spasmodic dysphonia (SD), promoting physician and public awareness of the disorder, and providing support to those affected by SD and their families. It is the only organization dedicated solely to the SD community. Together, we continue to grow through awareness, advocacy, and outreach; help to improve the lives of people dealing with SD; and work to support research in order to bring understanding to this disorder. The NSDA is a tax-exempt 501(c) (3) organization with Federal Tax identification number EIN # 38-2918042. http://www.dysphonia.org.