An estimated 30,000 people have a voice condition that I once had: spasmosic dysphonia. It affects vocal cords and renders the patient unable to speak in a way that can be easily understood. I couldn't speak for 3.5 years, until surgery in 2008 fixed me. I chronicled that journey in this blog. But that's not the interesting part.

Until this morning, the Wikipedia page for spasmodic dysphonia said there is no cure. The article mentioned regular Botox injections as the standard for treatment.


Several years ago I heard a conspiracy theory that the manufacturer of Botox was using its financial clout to suppress information about alternate treatments for spasmodic dysphonia. I dismissed that thinking as crazy talk. Sure, there was plenty of circumstantial evidence for that conspiracy theory, and Botox treatments for spasmodic dysphonia are big money, but all conspiracy theories appear to have evidence if you look hard enough. Coincidences have a way of looking like evidence.

About an hour ago, I edited the Wikipedia page under the Treatment heading to make it more accurate. This is the page that will probably come up first in most Google searches performed by people who have been diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia and are looking for answers. If the edits stay intact, I will declare the Botox conspiracy theory a probable myth. But if I check back in a few weeks and it says Botox is the only treatment, I'll have some serious questions.

Meanwhile, I just gave hope to 30,000 people. Or at least I gave hope to the subset among them who have good health insurance, an Internet connection, and an appetite for surgical risk. (Sometimes the surgical outcome is worse.)

I don't know what the other presidential candidates are doing this week while I'm helping to resolve medical problems for tens of thousands of voters. But I'm sure it's very important.
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Jan 2, 2012
I'm glad you did the edit. As you know, I facilitate an online community for people whose lives are affected by vocal disorders. At many turns, it seems Botox has been presented as the most sensible course of treatment. Can be quite frustrating for the one with the disorder who is searching for other ways... or even a more permanent treatment. Thanks, Scott.
Dec 31, 2011
"has improved the voice of many for several months to several years but the improvement may be temporary" when wiki said there was no cure, maybe they were considering surgery as just an alternative symptom treater.
Dec 31, 2011
Your article in the Dec. 31 Wall Street Journal is superb! Today's strip mentions oxytocin. Recent research indicates that this hormone is secreted during gossiping. I am witing a book (my 24th)about gossip.
Dec 31, 2011
"...until surgery in 2008 fixed me." I had my Dog fixed by surgery in 2008. Since then He has quit blogging and gone back to pointless, incessant barking.
-3 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 30, 2011
A number of operations that cuts one of the nerves of the vocal folds (the recurrent laryngeal nerve) has improved the voice of many for several months to several years but the improvement may be temporary.[2]

You are a better writer than me - so I'm just offering a bit of general education here - not criticism.

The phrase "A number of" is an indefinite qualifier. It takes a plural verb. Here is one reference site I found on a quick search:

-4 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 30, 2011
There is a cure for stupidity, it's called Darwinism. The only problem is they are going to take the smart people down as well when the biosphere crashes.
Dec 29, 2011
Followed the saga back when you were writing about it here. Great to have the update - and that you're using past tense talking about it. Making all this info available to others a great piece of work.

You won my vote a long time ago!
+9 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 29, 2011
It isn't a conspiracy theory that the global pharmaceutical companies (or any mega-corporation for that matter) work to maximize their profits. That is just business. The problem is that frequently maximizing profits runs head on into ethical considerations. Far too often ethics is shoved aside in the name of business. Name any industry, we have new examples every year (Oil & Gas, Software, Energy, Security, and yes Pharmaceuticals).
Dec 29, 2011
I totally just slapped your edits with a {{citation needed}} tag. References are what make Wikipedia great. Don't be lazy just because you're a presidential candidate.
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 29, 2011
Wow you have helped more people in about 5 minutes than every other candidate has in the entire campaign so far. I think that you Scott are running a campaign the right way, all other politicians are saying "If you give me more power I will do good things" you instead Scott are saying "I am doing good things without power right now. Imagine how much more good I could do with more power."
We need more of the second type of campaigning and much less of the second.

On an unrelated note, they say on the wiki that no one has any idea what causes SD but yet almost everyone on the list of people with the disease are either musicians and singers, radio announcers, or other people that do a lot of public speaking. Might there be a connection between using the voice a lot and SD?
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