How can I regain my voice after a stroke took it away?

I had a stroke about 18 years ago, at age 42. Afterwards, my right arm and leg were useless and, although I could talk, for about six months, my speech was ‘gibberish’. Thanks to therapy, my speech improved virtually back to normal. The right side of my body also improved with time.

Then, in November 2002, I had another stroke. I now know that it was due to pseudobulbar palsy, of which dysarthria, a speech problem caused by neurological damage, is the effect.

After seven months, I thought that I would be able to talk at least a little. I can say simple words like ‘yes’ and ‘no’, but there has been no further improvement. Although I can use every word sensibly, my speech is so slurred that only my wife Irene can understand me, and this is only because she is so used to my voice.

On the advice of the hospital doctor, I went to a speech therapist in January last year, but the therapist now says that all it needs is time, patience and practise – but for how long? If there isn’t going to be any more improvement, I will at least buy a LightWriter. But it means that my life from now on is going to be a voiceless one. Is this true? I sincerely hope not!

I had what I think now was a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) when I was about 28, but did nothing about it. I think at the time the doctors, in general, said it was nothing to worry about, as they didn’t know what it was.

So what I truly want to know is what can be done to get my voice back, at least to a level where I can talk to strangers, and what can I do to prevent it from happening again.

I now take aspirin and phenytoin for epilepsy, which was caused by the stroke 18 years ago. I know the side-effects of phenytoin, but have had no problems with it. However, because my cholesterol was raised, my GP prescribed simvastatin. My cholesterol is down again, but one side-effect is insomnia, for which I now occasionally take Ovaltine in order to get to sleep. – AD, Powys

WDDTY replies: Alternative practitioners out there, any ideas? If so, please send them in.

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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