Dysphonia and Aphonia
A few weeks ago, I referenced my voice, and how it contributed to the launch of Joe and Anna. I said that I would shed some insight into my condition, as lots of people have never heard of Dysphonia. So here we go...
Just to say that currently, I'm not experiencing an episode of Dysphonia and have had my voice with me for about 6 months now!
1) When was I diagnosed with severe dysphonia and aphonia?
I was diagnosed with Dysphonia when I was in my early 20’s
2) What exactly are the above?
Spasmodic dysphonia is a disorder affecting the voice muscles in the larynx, also called the voice box. When you speak, air from your lungs is pushed between two elastic structures—called vocal folds—causing them to vibrate and produce your voice. In spasmodic dysphonia, the muscles inside the vocal folds spasm (make sudden, involuntary movements), interfering with vocal fold
vibrations. Spasmodic dysphonia causes voice breaks during speaking and can make the voice sound tight, strained, or breathy.
3) How does this impact my daily life? - Are there things I need assistance with, medication I have to take etc? What treatment have I undergone to help with my voice?
After 22 years as a teacher, I was forced to retire because I lost my voice — literally. I was a teacher for twenty two years - Teaching for me was a passion and I considered it a vocation, it was all I ever wanted to do as a little girl growing up in Hornchurch, Essex. As such, it was a complete hammer blow when I developed a nasty voice disability called Dysphonia (an extremely disabling voice disorder). I remember so clearly when I first had the symptoms, I panicked inside but as I was in front of a class I had to try to stay calm and continue but I was so anxious, the feeling was really strange, because when it
goes, it’s rapid, my voice pretty much disappeared in minutes. Luckily, as with most of the classes I have taught, they were well behaved and considerate, as were the staff I have worked with, so supportive and considerate. There was provision of a specially designed microphone, which I used as and when necessary, but as I was teaching a practical subject (DT), it was a help but not
always practical. My students were amazing, normally whispering back to me out of consideration. I continued to attend school to teach at a high standard with my students continuing to do well. I consistently achieved lesson assessments of outstanding. Adults, I find are the ones that can be unintentionally a little less sensitive, well meaning jokes about my husband being the luckiest man alive being most common, we used to laugh and play along like it’s the first time we have heard it. Normally responding with ‘a look' is worth a thousand words. My husband now thinks he can lip read! When there is background noise in a restaurant or bar, and I know he can’t hear me I can see him reading my lips. We have been together eighteen years and I have only had my voice for seven of those years, what a lucky man - there you go, I’m at it too!
My condition, when I'm suffering an attack, is very severe dysphonia with a GRBAS score of 13 out of a maximum score of 15 with a voice handicap score of 91, indicating the severity of my dysphonia. I began a long and exhaustive journey to find a cure. The first step as with most people was the GP, I was soon referred to a consultant with tests and examinations and therapies all unsuccessful in finding the cure I was craving for. My desperation led me to Harley Street and to one of the leading speech therapists in Dysphonia, even in the country. I spent thousands of pounds of my own money, which put me into a great deal of debt, in my search for a cure but sadly to no avail. I had suffered with voice problems on and off, ranging from a few days, to longer weekly periods, to then a loss of 6 months before becoming years at a time, with the current period of consistent voice loss now lasting over six years. My last consultant, decided after looking at my long struggle, which has seen me at hospitals, clinics, and therapists, that all avenues have been exhausted. I then decided reluctantly to live with the condition, and accept that there will be no permanent cure, and that I just need mitigate the probable causes, one of which is projecting and permanent use of my voice in the classroom. I took the very sad, difficult decision to retire
4) What inspired me to set up my own business and what is the business exactly?
I love candles and always had them burning in the house, but my son suffers with his chest and was on asthma pumps. When he was two, he spent 10 days in hospital with pneumonia. My husband, who has never liked artificial products also felt the candles were giving him a sinus headache. We looked into the way that candles were made and found that paraffin wax can be particularly
So began my Joe and Anna journey, to design and sell natural quality products which are not harmful. In my opinion there should be a warning on all candles made from paraffin wax. I sell a premium product that is natural and has a really strong perfume scent content. I am passionate about my products. I love making my customers happy with what I make and sell. My products are very
personal to me, and I am always happy when my customers are too.
I have expanded my product range to hand made ceramics. I work with an amazing potter in Surrey who makes burners, vases and pebbles - I encourage her to be creative - I want every piece to be unique. SHE IS AMAZING, I just want her to keep making her products so I can share our enthusiasm with my clients. Joe no longer needs his asthma pump, and hasn’t had a chest infection in six years. My husband no longer gets headaches and both of them love my candles and wax melts burning.
All of my products are lovingly crafted with elegance and authenticity and I love making your home smell incredible, naturally. I use only natural renewable resources in my coconut and soy wax candle jars and melts, which are hand poured in England using natural products. There is no harmful paraffin wax or chemicals and the coconut and soy wax burns cleaner and longer than paraffin wax. I really do provide a premium quality, fully scented wax, with a sensational scent throw, with fully scented wax, no plug at the top, or running through the middle. All of my products are packaged in a natural eco-friendly, therefore re-usable, hessian bag. I aim to provide good, old fashioned, personal service, from the beginning to the end of your journey with me. I’m not aiming to become the next Amazon or Yankee Candle, but aim to provide a service and become a brand that is second to none and one that people love to come back to for more.
5) What has been the reaction from the public to the business? Has it been quite successful so far?
Most of my customers are repeat customers, we work hard to ensure they get the highest standard product with every delivery. It takes time to build a successful brand and products, but so far I have had a fantastic response. No negative reviews, all positive.
Now, I'm just hoping that my voice stays with me for as long as possible....
Love, Katy xx