Parkinson's Healing Updates: Recovery of Speech

Published on 20 June 2015  |  Posted by Cheryl  |  Filed under Parkinson's Disease

A common symptom sufferers of Parkinson’s disease experience is a deterioration of speech and swallowing abilities. This has been one of the side effects of the disease I have suffered as a result of my Parkinson’s.

Speech Challenges

Being able to speak is very important to me as I need to be able to communicate with my students when teaching a class. But on a more social level being unable to speak has caused me to feel a lot of pain, shame and insecurity.

Over a period of time I stopped contacting people on the phone or avoided communication with people when I did go out.

I recently listened to a webinar on alternative healing for Parkinson’s delivered by the Michael J Fox Foundation. A trait sufferers of Parkinson’s disease have in common is a deep feeling of loneliness. This is definitely something I can relate to.

The inability to speak properly and having the tremors causes one to feel very embarrassed when interacting with other people. This caused me a lot of pain as I was becoming isolated from the world being afraid to communicate. It led to very little social interaction with the outside world causing extreme loneliness, isolation and depression.

One of our objectives we focused on through our consultations was to see if we could have an impact on my speech. By doing so I became very aware of changes in my abilities to speak, but I also noticed that over the period of time we were working together my speech seemed to get even worse. We also realised that I struggled saying certain words especially the ones that started with “e’s” and “o’s”.

Another thing I noticed was that when I turned off the DBS Stimulator my speech improved and at one time turning it on again caused an almost immediate negative effect on my speech. For a period of a few weeks my ability to speak fluctuated from being able to speak relatively normally and being almost unable to speak at all.

 

Video the DBS implant self-adjustment and its affect on my speech:

A third DBS reset with Nicola

The self-adjustment I performed with the DBS implant caused a lot of pain and disorientation. This prompted me to book another session with Nicole in order to get the settings right. During the reset again there were no tremors in my left hand or leg AND there was no sign of a tremor in my right hand. There was however still a tremor in the right leg.

We tried different levels of settings with the DBS and we noticed that when we turned the right-hand-side setting higher there was a reduction in the tremor in my leg but a decreased ability to speak. Nicola let me know that I had the option of not being able to speak or having a tremor in my right leg.

In the end I chose to be able to speak and we left the stimulator on a lower setting which caused my right leg to shake. I needed to speak and the tremor in my leg was not too severe. The voltage settings on the stimulator are currently a much lower setting than they have been on for a long time which is also something unheard of. The settings have been turned down on both sides.

 

Another Consultation with Martin

There was a legal and personal matter that was constantly playing on my mind and causing me distress and anxiety.

After a month-long break from seeing Martin we agreed it was time to begin working again and I booked a consultation to see him. I was also feeling very sick for a period of a few weeks. I was suffering from nausea, stomach pains and emotional struggle. It was actually so bad that I thought I was going to die. After consulting with my Doctor we realised that I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms from being off anti-depressants.

I wanted to work on working on this legal dispute with Martin as it was causing me a lot of emotional chaos. It ended up being a marathon 5 and a half hour consultation! It was hard work for both of us but in the end we able to resolve many emotional issues around the legal issue. As usual I was told to go home and rest and not dwell too much the work we had done and just to observe if there were any changes in my mental, emotional and physical wellbeing over the next few days or weeks.

The next day I carried on as usual until I got a phone call from a friend. While speaking to her I became aware of my own voice and noticed that something was very different The slur was gone, the tone of my voice was different and there was an ease in my ability to talk. I could hear that I sounded different from the night before!

Overnight there had been a dramatic improvement in my speech without changing any of the settings on the DBS or changes to my medication. I was a bit worried that it might only be temporary and tried not to get too excited, however a few weeks have passed and my ability to speak is still improving.

 

My speech at its worst in March 2015 and taking an unfortunate tumble:

 

Videos of me speaking and noticing the changes in my speech ability:

Coughing and Choking

One of the most challenging symptoms I have experienced over the last few years living with Parkinson’s disease are the fits of coughing and choking I had on a daily basis. As the years went on, it became worse and worse. I visited my doctor frequently and was given various cough medicines which did not help.

A common cause of death from Parkinson’s is choking to death on food. It was one of the reasons I began collecting tranquilisers as I thought it would have been a better way to go than choking to death.

As my therapy with Martin progressed I noticed the cough disappearing slowly and today I am grateful to report that the choking and the coughing appears to have disappeared and I have not experienced a severe choking and coughing episode for a few months.

It’s wonderful not to have those coughing fits and the choking! It has changed my life as now I can eat out without worrying about embarrassing myself and having to excuse myself from the table.

 

Continued Weight Loss

I have continued to lose weight and have lost a total of 6 kilograms in 5 months. At first I couldn’t understand why as I made no changes to my diet. But I realised that in the last few months I haven’t had the need for comfort eating and as a result have been eating less and losing an average of 1 kg a month.

The other significant change has been that there has been no evidence of a tremor in my right hand for a number of weeks. However there is still a tremor in my right leg until I take my medication which leaves me completely tremor free.

It is still hard to believe where I am today compared to the state I was in just 6 months ago. I am still taking things day-by-day, but things seem to be improving in many areas of my life every day.

This experience I have gone through gives us a lot of feedback in terms of what is possible with regards to the human body, healing, and the nature of Parkinson’s. Of course I will continue providing you with updates and changes as they happen, but all I can say is that I am in a better space in my life right now than I have been for a long time.

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