About eight years ago, I was diagnosed with a rare voice disorder called spasmodic dysphonia (SD). By 2009 the disorder had progressed to the point where I feared I would have to retire from practicing dentistry.
Although there is no cure for SD, I tried many treatments and therapies to regain the use of my voice. However, it wasn’t until I connected with an 80-year-old former opera singer who now coaches voice that I began to relearn how to use my voice. After nearly two years of intensive work with her, I am happy to report that my voice is functioning normally again.
I’ve received many inquiries about my struggle with this disorder, which is why I decided to provide this update. I truly appreciate everyone’s expressions of support and concern through this difficult process.
As someone reading this blog, you probably practice good oral hygiene and seek dental care on a regular basis. Unfortunately, many Minnesotans do not, or cannot, obtain the dental care that is essential for healthy living.
In August, 2012, I was privileged to participate in the first annual Minnesota Mission of Mercy, held in Mankato. More than 2,000 individuals received free dental care
valued at an estimated $1.3 million. Services included intake and examination, X-
ray and diagnosis, children’s dentistry, adult restorative dentistry, oral surgery and
prosthodontics. The event was cosponsored by the Minnesota Dental Association and the
Minnesota Dental Foundation.
I spent my day in oral surgery — where the need was the greatest — performing minor
surgery and extracting teeth that were unrestorable from years of neglect and disease. My
wife, Kathi, assisted patients with finding their way around the clinic.
The mood was very upbeat, and my long day (5:30 am. to 4 p.m.) actually flew by with
a steady flow of patients. By the end of the day, all of us who volunteered our services
were tired and hungry. At the same time, we felt a great sense of accomplishment, and
we were humbled by the sincere gratitude shown by our patients. Here’s one of the many
positive comments we received:
“Thank you! What an amazing group of volunteers! Thank you for taking time out of your
busy lives to help today. You have made a gigantic difference in our lives. Bless all of
you” ~ Chrystal, North Mankato, MN
We look forward to volunteering for next year’s Mission of Mercy in Bemidji.