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10 Different Specialists...10 Different Diagnoses

All my dreams seemed to be coming true. I had graduated in Social Work at U.B.C. before finishing my Masters at V.S.T. I was happily married to Janice, a gifted musician and wonderful listener. I was in the first year of a full-time job that was very fulfilling and challenging. On top of that, Janice and I were thrilled to be expecting our first child. The time seemed right to begin our family, as life had never seemed so stable and secure. Then, out of the blue, I was struck down in December 1980 by a rare viral throat condition, called Spasmodic Dysphonia. I had always enjoyed public speaking. Suddenly every second or third word would be choked off as I spoke.

Over the next 18 months, I went to 10 different medical specialists, receiving 10 different diagnoses. Virtually all the diagnoses contradicted each other, and none of the suggested treatments actually cured my voice problem. Some of the specialists led me to believe that if I followed their treatment, my voice would return in a month or so. I felt very disappointed, as treatment after treatment failed to produce the desired results. To quote Mildred Young, a cured spastic dysphonic and wife of the California Attorney General, "The whole speech loss experience is just terribly traumatic. People always say it was particularly so in my case because everything I did involved speech. But I think that it would be the case for anyone . . . it's ego destroying, just dreadfully ego destroying. People with spasmodic dysphonia do one of two things: they are either terribly, terribly stubborn and keep seeking help . . . or if they don't have a very supportive situation at home, they blame themselves, and retreat and disappear."

Eventually the Medical Specialists decided that if I didn't leave my place of work and take up full-time speech therapy, my voice would never return. So I submitted my resignation, and went on sick leave. I found this decision to be very painful and embarrassing. Everything I had done in life had always been successful. Now I felt like a failure. I felt afraid that my voice might never come back. What would I do then? With the birth of our new baby, I felt concerned about my inability to to provide financially for our new family. To my surprise, I discovered that I only qualified for six weeks of sick benefits, as our organization had no long-term disability insurance. As well, I did not qualify for U.I.C. as I was unable to speak and was taking full time speech therapy. I decided to put my financial fears into the hands of my Higher Power, Jesus Christ. The amazing thing was that all the needs of my family were met each month over a 12 month

Despite all the setbacks and delays, I never gave up hope that one day my voice would be restored. Eighteen long months later, a miracle happened. Click to find out more...


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Contact Rev. Ed Hird 
St. Simon's Anglican Church 
North Vancouver, B.C.