Four years ago, I started to lose my normal voice. It gradually became more and more strangled, strained and effortful as time went by. It’s called spasmodic dyphonia, a rare neurological voice disorder. First, I lost my ability to teach with my voice. Then, I resorted to using a lapel mic and speaker when I had to talk before a group. I thought that was the worst that my voice could be. I went for speech therapy hoping to improve the situation but it gave minimal results. I had botox injection twice but it didn't improve my voice at all. My social life was severely affected that I did not want to attend any gatherings. Even meet ups with friends did not appeal to me anymore as I would only become frustrated not being able to talk and enjoy them. My ability to talk became less and less...I could not talk on the phone or say things when in a zoom call. Worst of all, I could not talk with my family anymore without straining myself. The more I strained my voice, the more stressed I became and then, the more strain it brought to my voice. My vocal cords felt like a skyline pigeon in a cage "dreamin' of the open waiting for the day he could spread his wings and fly away again" (Elton John). I cried out to God in prayer for many nights waiting for the day of deliverance from this "captivity". I lost my normal voice but God never left me hopeless...I was full of hope that God was going to do something.. just like in the story of the woman bleeding for 12 years but was healed by Jesus. The day came when even uttering "uhm" already became a painful task. Soon after, Drs. John Espina and Shamylle Quinto arranged a teleconsultation with me. They mentioned a number of times that I was a good candidate for thyroplasty type II surgery. (I got to know about thyroplasty in Sept 2019 but it took me two years to muster my courage because I was afraid of the thought that 2 titanium plates would reside in my neck.) Finally, I underwent thyroplasty surgery on Feb. 26, 2022 at Isshiki Memorial Voice Center. After my 7-day voice rest, I can now speak without strangulation, strain or effort. Things that I used to do are gradually coming back. I can now pronounce previously difficult words like those beginning with D, J and Y. I can now have short conversations with my family. Yesterday, I noticed that I could talk in a restaurant even with a loud background. I can now buy things and be heard without having to repeat myself. I am thankful to God for Drs. John Espina and Shamylle Quinto, Leanne and the whole surgical team of Isshiki Memorial Voice Center. I felt the hand of God opening the “cage to let the skyline pigeon fly” through the medical skills of my doctors and their careful and loving care for their patients like me. I praise God for bringing me from the road of continued deterioration to the road of hopeful restoration of my voice. Thanks to all the people who persevered with me in prayers. To God be the glory!
I was diagnosed with Adductor Spasmodic Dysphonia,a neurological voice disorder, last October 2019. I work in a bank so I am required to use my voice on a daily basis. Last year, I was able to have an appointment for teleconsultation with Dr. John Espina and Dra. Shamylle Quinto. They explained everything I need to know about SD and the available treatments such as botox injections, speech therapy, and surgery. I was advised to try botox first so I made an appointment with my ENT in Bacolod. I had 1.50 units on each side of my vocal cords but unfortunately, it did not work. Yesterday, I underwent Isshiki Thyroplasty Type II. I am still in recovery but I already noticed a significant change in my voice. I can no longer feel any strangulations and difficulty when speaking. I thank Dr. Espina, Dra. Quinto, Ms. Leanne and the rest of the team for the success of my surgery and for making sure I was taken care of during my stay. My whole experience with IMVC Manila was excellent and I would recommend then unreservedly.
A grace-filled and wonderful day to all of us!
I am Jeffrey Loma, a resident from the Philippines who happened to have an Adductor SD, four years ago. I am writing this statement to share with you my experience of being cured with SD through an operation/ surgery in the throat. A week ago, I undergone the Isshiki Thyroplasty Type II surgery at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, Philippines under the Team of Dr. John Espina. I would say that I am so blessed with them as I am able to obtain my voice be back without any spasms in my throat anymore. My quality of life came back to normal now, even though I am still in the process of recovery. I thought it would just be a dream to have my voice be back until I found out that there is an Isshiki Thyroplasty Type II operation that can cure the SD. I am so blessed with Dr. Shinya Hiroshiba who referred me to talk with a Filipino doctor who trained in Japan about this operation (Isshiki Thyroplasty Type II) who is Dr. John Espina. Dr. John discussed to me all the things I need to know about the operation which made me confident to try and thank God, indeed, it was a successful one! I am also blessed with all the posts here with our friend members who shared about their experiences of having the same kind of surgery which inspired me to undergo as well.
I hope I can encourage other Filipino’s patients and the people reading this message who have SD and other voice disorders to never stop believing that there is still hope to obtain our voices.
I would try to attach here my former and present speaking videos as a reference.
If you have some further inquiries about my experiences, feel free to message me.
God bless us!
Hi everyone. I'm Camille, 25, from Philippines. I also suffered with Adductor Spasmodic Dysphonia, a long term disorder and for me, it should also be treated with a long-term solution. This is my SD story and how I dealt with mine.
My symptoms started last June 2019 after having severe cough. Started from hoarseness then strangulation began. It affected my job.
I was initially diagnosed with MTD (Muscle Tension Dysphonia) on September so I consulted with another doctor, Dr. Shamylle Quinto for a second opinion (my doctor that has been with me throughout my SD journey). After further assessment, there she confirmed that it's SD and not MTD. I found out that it has no cure but fortunately there are available treatments.
I first tried botox injection by Dr. Shamylle on November right after the proper diagnosis. It was effective as it brought back my normal voice and lasted until March. But as everyone else who wishes for a stable voice without worrying when botox wears off, I decided to opt for a long-term solution. I researched and compared the different surgeries available (effects and consequences) and it's the Type II Thyroplasty that seems the best to try as the first line of treatment since it's reversible. Luckily, Dr. Shamylle is one of those who trained in Japan to make this procedure available in the Philippines.
It was not an easy decision, but time is running and my work is waiting for me. Instead of being skeptical, I dived in since I believe it's the best option.
So September 4 (three days ago) I finally underwent thyroplasty. Doc Shamylle together with Dr. John Espina who also trained in Japan, always work in tandem to provide the best outcome. It's time of pandemic and Im thankful that they were able to perform the surgery during this tough time.
Im still fascinated that the strangulation disappeared right after the surgery. I can't believe I was able to talk smoothly to some hospital staff with just less than 24 hours after the operation, and I was heard and understood. They have no idea that I was the patient cos I was ready to go home. 😁 My family noticed my smooth sentences. They are so glad that I am now 3 days spasm free. Some thinks that low volume and breathiness would be an issue but I believe that it will get louder, stronger and better each day. Actually, it turned out not really breathy as what I expected compared from other patients' voice recordings. If i would rate the breathiness from 1 to 10(being the most breathy), mine is just around 2. For now, I can speak with low volume but I notice the improvement as days pass by and I am sure that I chose the right decision.
I can't thank them enough for their efforts to help SD patients. Also big thanks to Pipes Dizon for sharing his Thyroplasty experience and gave me encouragement to decide what's best.
This procedure is really a life-changing moment. It brings back the confidence lost and most importantly, I will be able to get back to work soon. ❤️
Hello everyone. I’m Marilyn Erlano, 24 years old, from Philippines. I was diagnosed with Spasmodic Dyshonia adductor type last 2017.
I started experiencing symptoms when I was 14, but I was still able to control my voice. It all started getting worse when I turned 19, my voice was cracking and breaking up when I feel stressed or angry, when I feel shy towards the person I am speaking to, or when there are a lot of people around me.
I posted in Spasmodic Dysphonia Group on Facebook and Dr. Espina from Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City noticed me. I consulted with him and he is very kind. He discussed with me both Botox and Isshiki Thyroplasty type 2 surgery. I decided to undergo the surgery since this will be much better for my case. I was admitted to the hospital last 1st of October and, 3rd of October, the surgery was performed. I didn’t feel any pain from the surgery itself although there is a little sting afterwards. My voice is a bit hoarse right now but it’s back to normal, I just need some voice rest.
I have the before and after videos here.
Thank you so much to Dr. John Espina, Dr. Shamylle Quinto, and to their team. You were all kind and amazing doctors! Your smiles calmed me during the surgery.
Most especially, thank you to Dr. Dinna Belo! We’ll both have healed voices when we see each other again. May GOD continue to bless you and your family.
I posted this for the awareness of people like me who suffers from SD, I know what you are going through. Don’t lose hope! Just visit Dr. John Espina.
Have a nice day everyone! GOD is good.
3 years ago I lost my voice.
The voice to talk clearly. To talk fluently. To be heard. To be understood. I was 26 when my voice slowly deteriorated. Since I was working in a call center, I thought it was just a simple case of voice loss. However, a month passed and my voice worsened. I had a check up with a specialist (ENT) and got diagnosed with laryngitis. I took the prescribed meds religiously but nothing happened. Got a second opinion and the result was the same. Frustrated, I gave up teaching in ladies' classes and children's Bible class. Mundane tasks became a struggle for me. A year passed, I was feeling hopeful. I went for another ENT specialist check up. This time I was diagnosed with Spasmodic Dysphonia. I was diagnosed correctly but it only made me feel worse than ever. Knowing there was no known cause and cure, I felt hopeless. I was only endorsed for speech therapy and botox injection which were not available in our region and were not permament cures.
Another year went by, I joined the Spasmodic Dysphonia group in facebook. And it was here that I saw Jeff Loma's post who underwent Isshiki Thyroplasty Type 2. I was so thrilled to know that this surgery is available in our country and not only in Japan. Early this year in February, I went to see Dr. John Espina and the rest of the ENT team were so efficient and knowledgeable of my condition that I was just so happy to be there. I found out that Dr. Espina had undergone training in Japan under the mentorship of doctors Isshiki, Hiroshiba, and Tanabe. I knew I was in safe hands. But surgery was not an easy decision for me. I went back home and thought about it for so long. I prayed about it without ceasing. And recently, I saw Marilyn Erlano's post on this group and was convinced. Her voice sounded so much better and I wanted to have the same. Just this 24th of October I underwent Isshiki Thyroplasty Type 2 under local anesthesia. The operation only lasted for 2 hours and the result was instant. I sounded so much better than my pre-op voice. The next day I was already discharged. Now I am currently on my 3rd day of post op and on voice rest since my throat is still a bit sore. I feel so much hopeful now.
I thank God above for answered prayers. By His grace, I am where I am now. I thank my brothers and sisters in Christ who prayed for me fervently and my ever supportive fianće who stayed with me to the very end.
Many thanks too to Dr. John Espina and the rest of the team.
May this post raise awareness and be an inspiration to all. God bless!
I am Grace, 30 years old, from the Philippines.
I would like to share my journey with SD.
I suffered from Adductor type of Spasmodic Dysphonia. It started after a severe cough last July, 2019. Two days after the cough was resolved, I noticed my voice started to falter. I initially thought the change in my voice is something “psychological” and temporary because it would become worse in situations under pressure like when I am stressed, talking in front of people, when I am tired, or when talking over the phone. It would only seem to sound normal when I am well-rested, 2 hours after waking up and when I sing. I also thought that the death of my father last year added to my psychological trauma. I was hoping my voice would return to normal after several weeks, but months had already passed and it didn’t improve.
I visited an ENT doctor in a private clinic in Qatar and was diagnosed with LPR (Laryngopharyngeal Reflux). After months of treatment, my voice problem was still the same. Regular conversations became a struggle as well. I love my work as a nurse but I will not be able to continue my job if I cannot function well. In December last year, I was on the brink of resigning from my work. It pains me that instead of me wishing for my patient’s recovery, they are the ones praying and wishing for me to get well. That’s how sick I sounded in front of my patients.
I also tried taking neurotransmitter support like GABA, 5HTP and VitB complex for months. It may have helped me to some extent.
I got an appointment from another ENT specialist in Doha. In February of this year, I started to have speech therapy for my dysphonia. I only had 4 sessions because face-to-face therapy stopped due to covid-19. It helped me with breathing and how to get some difficult words successfully out, but IT is still there.
I saw Marilyn Erlano’s post and I got a glimpse of hope. I planned to consult the same doctors who treated her. I was able to contact Dr. Shamylle Quinto and had an appointment with her last March but flights had been canceled due to pandemic restrictions.
Finally, I was able to fly back home to the Philippines last October 2 and proceeded with my doctor’s appointment.
I had the Type 2 Thyroplasty surgery last October 16. My surgeons were Dr. Shamylle Quinto and Dr. John Espina. I was discharge from the hospital the next day after the operation.
My pre-op voice is one of those well-rested voice days but I am still struggling with the vowels even with the techniques to get them properly out. I know most of you here would understand that there are better and worse days with SD. I wish I could let you hear the worse days.
Today marks the 10th day after my operation, I waited for some time before writing this post to fully assess if my strangulations are gone. So far, I didn’t “feel” that the strangulations are back. My family cannot “hear” any breaks, too. I just need to work up the volume of my voice. I will need to have a follow-up with my speech therapist when I go back to Doha.
I know that this is a lengthy post but I would like to inspire those who are on the same page as me. There is no cure but there is relief from this condition. Reading posts from this group gave me comfort on my worst SD days knowing that I am not alone and there are people who “understand” me and my struggle.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Shamylle, Dr. John and their team because they took good care of me during the course of my surgery and recovery. I hope you can continue to help other SD patients like me. Thank you. ￼🙏
A beautiful & blessed day to all! I am Mikee Vitug, a 28-year-old licensed pharmacist and one of the first trans gender woman flight attendant in the Philippines. As a trans woman who have been battling with gender dysphoria due to my voice, it is very saddening for me to hear discriminatory remarks from people as it lowers my confidence and self-esteem just because I don’t sound “female” enough for them. I will share my journey with IMVC Manila. Since I’ve started transitioning to become the woman that I am, one of my main problems and challenged me everyday was the modulation of my voice. I just had a tracheal cartilage shave procedure a few years back and because of this it became harder for me to sustain the pitch that I thought was ‘feminine’ enough for people to stop clocking me that I am not a woman. I have been researching for doctors and facilities that offers a procedure that could “feminize” my voice until I came across with Isshiki Memorial Voice Center. I was excited when I learned that they have a satellite clinic here in Manila, Philippines. After reading and watching the videos of the procedure pioneered by Dr. Isshiki and his apprentices in Japan, I messaged IMVC Manila for my inquiries and consultation. Ma’am Leanne was very accommodating in answering all my inquiries and immediately booked me for a teleconsultation. The lovely and very professional doctors of IMVC Manila, Dr. John Espina & Dr. Shamylle Quinto, who’ve trained in Japan making them world class doctors, met with me and personally answered all my questions, they have explained the procedure well and after sharing my story to them, they said they can feminize my voice. I was in awe of their professionalism and because of this I entrusted myself to them. Surgery day came and I was accommodated with a high standard of care. I know I am in best hands not only because of the staff and doctors but also their facilities and equipment are of world class quality. Thank God the surgery was done successfully. I was told to rest my voice for a week and come back for post-op results. After a week, I was told to speak and the moment I heard my new voice I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, my voice is now on the feminine pitch, and they said it will improve more after speech therapy. The doctors were very happy as well and I just couldn’t hold back my tears. Now, I am still undergoing healing and speech therapy but all in all, I would like to thank and commend the staff and doctors of IMVC Manila for a job well done. This has given my self-esteem and confidence a big boost and that happened because of IMVC Manila. Thank you for your world class service and I hope more women will come to your clinic and make you a part of their transition journey as you all were with me in mine. All my appreciation and gratitude, more powers to IMVC Manila family!