I’d much rather be reaching out with news about an upcoming musical endeavor or project, but I find myself in a humbling position where I need to ask for help. Specifically I need help financially to cover the treatment and therapy of a vocal disorder I've been battling for three years, which we believe will take a combination of Myofunctional Therapy and Naturopathic Medicine to heal.
A summary of my Story:
I use my voice on a regular basis as a Worship Pastor, Songwriter, and Audio Engineer here in San Francisco.
For three years my vocal disorder has allowed me to do only the bare minimum when it comes to communication and singing. I've been in continual pain, and it feels like I’m being strangulated or choked when I talk or sing. My airway closes up, causing a stuttering or voice-stopping sound, and my vocal cords feel extremely fatigued almost every waking hour. Every now and then I'll have a good day or two, but it won't last. We haven't known why until now.
Many of you know I had a vocal surgery in February, 2018 to remove three cysts from beneath my vocal cords, hoping it would fix the problem. Sadly, nothing about my recovery has been pain-free, and though the surgery didn't damage anything further, it’s safe to say at this point that my vocal disorder persists. Post-surgery, I’ve been seeing a Speech & Language Pathologist (SLP) several times a month, doing exercises faithfully every day trying to get back normal, to no avail.
I'm back at work currently, but I only really sing in front of people on Sundays, and I haven’t played a concert in over a year. Over the last few years I've written about 30 songs that are ready to track, but sadly I’m not in good enough consistent vocal health to make that album yet.
In all of this, my general practitioner and Head/Neck specialists within my insurance network have been unable to help. They don’t know what’s causing my pain and don’t have the time to try and dig deep to find a solution. Until recently, I was starting to lose hope I'd ever get better. After hundreds of hours of research, I found Myofunctional Therapy.
What is Myofunctional Therapy (OMT)?
"Myofunctional Therapy is neurological re-education exercises to assist the normalization of the developing, or developed, craniofacial structures and function"
I’ve seen a great Myofunctional Therapist here in San Francisco for a comprehensive evaluation and have started therapy already. She discovered disfunction in my swallowing and tongue function, throat and facial muscles, and my airway. These impairments, which progressed over time due to several physiological realities out of my control, have messed with my nerves and how my whole head and neck function. My swallowing muscles are so weak that the rest of my face and neck must over compensate to make up for their inability to function. This explains my constant fatigue and tightness in that area. The fix: We need to create new neurological pathways through therapy exercises.
My OMT has 30 years of experience under her belt and has helped many patients with speech and swallowing disorders. She mentioned that I may need an extra procedure to fully remove a tongue tie I've had my whole life, but only time will tell how necessary that is.
We are calculating that it will cost:
$4640 for all of my treatment, and potentially:
$6640 if I need the extra procedure.
HERE'S HOW MY RECOVERY PLAN BREAKS DOWN
w/ figures and notes.
Orofacial Myology Comprehensive Evaluation - $195 (COMPLETE)
My OMT develops a unique treatment plan for my condition which consists of 2 phases, based on observing my talking, swallowing, breathing, eating, walking, sitting, and taking baseline readings of the teeth and facial muscle condition and strength.
Phase 1: 12 sessions at $160/session: $1920 (IN PROCESS)
“Phase 1 is about finding and correcting the facial muscle imbalance. We will strengthen any weak muscles and relaxing the over-stressed muscles. Then we can synchronize all of them to function together as mother nature intended. We also focus on breathing in Phase 1.” Sometimes patients with speech issues take longer.
GOOD NEWS: after several days of doing the exercises, my throat feels better than it has in a while. Singing at church last week was easier than it has been. I'm used to things not lasting, but we're praying it continues on this trend.
Phase 2: 5 sessions at $160/session: $800
“Phase 2 is usually 3-5 visits that are spread out over a 6-month period to help insure that there is no regression as the cranium and teeth grow and change.”
Potential additional procedure: $2000
My OMT informed me that I may need an additional procedure to completely remove a tongue tie I've had my whole life. Tongue tie's often add a great deal of stress to the body because of the way they inhibit mobility, speech, and swallowing. This procedure could cost an extra $2000. I will update you if this is necessary.
Continued Speech therapy: 5 sessions at $135/session: $675
Speech therapy hasn't been very effective yet because we believe there is a root issue that needs remedied before speech therapy can continue. I already have tons of great tools and exercises from past speech therapy experience, so I will just need a few more sessions once I get my facial nerves, muscles, and airway working properly with OMT.
Naturopath, labs and follow-up: $900
I’ve been told at times that anxiety, stress, and depression have caused this ailment, though I never experienced stress like this until my body actually started not functioning properly. After many failed treatment attempts I started to believe maybe it was in my head. I saw a Kaiser psychiatrist and started taking anti depressants. The side affects were terrible.
As I went back to the drawing board on how to pursue healing, I decided to see a Portland-based Naturopath who came highly recommended by dear friends. She is conducting several labs to see if anything is off balance internally that could cause mental and physical distress (genetically, nutritionally, allergically, autoimmune disorder etc) She has given me natural alternatives to traditional antidepressants, for which my body is grateful.
While my friends made a way for me to see the Naturopath by covering my flight and visit, the labs and follow-up video visit are very expensive and cost $900.
Additional (Gofundme) Fees:
This is humbling, because I have a hard time asking for help. Both Jocelyn and I do. As a Worship Pastor in San Francisco I already rely on the generosity of many people
If not for your help, all of these expenses would be out of pocket for us, as our insurance won't touch this treatment. With our newest addition to the family (Gabriel!) and with Jocelyn spending more time at home as mom, we are unable to afford this treatment without going into considerable debt. Ultimately if that's what it takes, that's ok. Given what we’ve already spent on my vocal disorder in the last three years, this feels like a solid investment which will ultimately tackle the problem areas head on. I desire to get back to work fully to provide for my growing and beautiful family. God has carried us through this season of grief, and we look forward, with hope, to be moving into a season of joy soon.
I’m forever grateful for you and your generosity.
With love and deep gratitude,
Kevin, Jocelyn, Gabriel.
(PS. I have an option for giving through a 501c3 so your gift is tax deductible. Feel free to message me if you'd like to go that route)
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