Originally submitted to StutteringChat, June 2000, and added here with permission of the author

Personal Experience with Botox Treatment for Stuttering

My name is Gloria Klumb; I grew up in Sheboygan and now live in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin. Growing up was not an easy time; school was the hardest time of my life. Back in the 60's people believe that if you cannot speak you cannot learn I made the huge mistake of believing this. I learnt how to hate school and avoid talking.

By the time I started high school I was totally lost, not only was I a stutterer, I hard a very hard time learning. High school bought on a whole new group of kids and teachers. I was asked where I came from (I could barely add) and how I got this far. When I got the name of the grade school out the class period was up, time for the next teacher and another set of similar questions.

In time I did come across two teachers that told me I could learn and I was going to be safe in their classrooms. I did learn to speak in those classrooms, but when I spoke I would avoid all the words I would stutter on, or at least try to avoid them. It didn't make sense but I did not stutter.

I think that those years have taught me something about people, I do speak but on my terms when I feel safe, even with people I know. My friends know that if in a crowd of strangers (3 or more people is a crowd to me) I do not say very much at all, I let them do the talking. I have learnt to use humor as much as possible to make the situations easier.

I thought I would never get married but did. Only after being rejected by the Peace Corps and the military service for women. You see they did not want a stutterer.

I met a therapist when I was in my early 40's he convinced me to give his therapy a try. He got permission from the school board for me to receive therapy from the school system. This was very hard for me. In time I was learning I could speak without stuttering, or at least with a lot less stuttering.

I started going to his house for therapy and during this time I found out what my husband thought of the idea of me speaking on my own. He had an idea that if I could speak on my own I would be better then him. I could not get him to understand how I felt. He would always say that it didn't matter and the price of therapy was too high. It was something I did not need. He would bring up the fact that stuttering was not something we talked about. It was not normal to talk about stuttering and no one cared any way. He was drinking by this time and I am not really sure but I think that is way he started drinking more. I was not totally dependant on him anymore. My marriage only lasted a few more years, my kids are still asking why I stayed with him so long.

Meeting different people has taught me to trust more and except their help. I had a friend who talked to doctors in Madison Wisconsin for me and found out about Botox shots. She took me there and I went through the exam of having the vocal cords studied. To do this a mini camera is put right above the vocal cords. I was asked to read a number of paragraphs containing all different sounds ,when the stuttering started to really get bad and I would stop and they would encourage me to carry on. This was one time I could not change words and get away with it. This exam alone was roughly over $300 dollars. This had to be done once a year. Once the doctor found how the vocal cords acted I was told I could come back for the shot. The shots are only given once a month, they would set up a whole day to do about 10 to 15 people. Each unit of Botox only lasted so many hours and could not be stored beyond a day.

The vocal cords were sprayed with a mixture of cocaine and some numbing agent to numb the whole area. This had a taste beyond words, I cannot explain how bad it tasted. Then came the shot, the tongue had to be pulled out as far as it could go and the injection was given usually in two areas. Because of Botox being toxic the shot could only be given once every 3 months. After a number of tries and keeping notes after each one I was able to let the doctor know when it worked and when it did not. I found out that getting the shot in the left side of the cords worked a lot better. The price of the shots was roughly $100 per unit, sometimes more. The doctors bill and then the hospital bill came to about $700 . Some times the doctor would not bill me for his services because I had no insurance. He also had me fill out papers for help in paying for this. The hospital declined my application on that but the doctor accepted it. So I ended up paying about $30.00 a month to pay this off. When I stoped going I had a $2000 hospital bill waiting to be paid off. If I could I would still get the shots but because of funds I won't. Today I am able to speak with a stutter that is not severe any more I now want to live. I think about the past and am thankful I am here to see my grandchildren. Life is good and maybe in time I will not have the fear that still hangs over me. Maybe someone should change the name of stuttering to FEAR.

More information is available about Botox therapy at the Center For Voice Disorders of Wake Forest University

added June 3, 2007