Monday, October 01, 2007

Trying out medication: Week 0

I am starting a series on one of your fellow readers who is trying out whether medication is helping his stuttering. (I have edited the report and took out names.)

I am a 39 year old male that has always stuttered. I am married with 3 children, all of which are fluent. I have good and bad days, however over the years it seems to have got worse and I use a good deal of avoidance when entering speaking situations. I suffer mainly from blocks as opposed to repetitions and have major problems with introductions and my name (and other factual things I cannot change).

I have had conventional speech therapy as a young adult and in 2000 I did the McGuire programme. The costal breathing was great, it worked for a while and I was 100% fluent, well I say fluent, thats fluent to people on the outside, as I was thinking/living and indeed breathing stammering 24/7 365 days a year. After the Maguire programme, I got worse and worse as it was hard to go from "fluent" to worse than I was before the programme. I have tried hypotherapy and various CD/MP3's that offer a "cure" - If someone told me that I would be fluent by standing on one leg and chanting, I may have tried that too!!!

I have been doing a good deal of research and after consultation at the stuttering centre at UCI California I decided to take Zyprexa Zydis (olazapine) and Zantac to help offset the weight gain. Pagoclone is still on clinical trials and the drug will not be available until 2010/2011, so I will give the Zyprexa a chance. Prior to going on the drugs, I have intentionally dropped 10lbs in weight (I weigh 200lbs and am 6ft 2" tall) and embarked on a healthy exercise campaign to offset any weight issues that Zyprexa may cause. In addition I had blood tests to get a base line for my fats/lipids/bloodwork.

I took my first medication on Saturday and am now a 300 pound diabetic fluent person!!.....just kidding.....I will be monitoring my weight and will also bloodwork to see if anything changes. The first morning after the drugs, I was very tired, however this is to be expected at the start of taking the drug. As a result, I will make sure that I not be using threshing machinery/flying aeroplanes at 2.30am !!!

If the Zyprexa Zydis does not work or the side effects are too much, I would switch to Abilify which has less side effects but has not been so widely tested for stammering. I will keep a regular update on here so people can see the effects of the drug and also how it affects me in other ways.


Unknown said...

Hi Tom

I am also a McGuire graduate. It is surprising to learn that your speech got worse after the programme. May be you can give me your number and we can discuss several issues regarding our speech. I always love to talk to McGuire grads.



Anonymous said...


When I left the course I was outwardly "fluent" and had control, however as we all know, in the real world we cannot perform perfect control and the anxiety of life hinders the costal breathing and it all falls down like a house of cards.

How many people of the many thousands of "graduates" have retained their speech at the level we had on the date that we left the course?

I am not knocking Maguire techniques and Costal breathing per se, what I am saying is that the techniques are fine in a calm relaxed environment and as we know the real world is far from calm.

Anonymous said...

Well, I am knocking Maguire techniques, and anything else that purports to improve fluency through verbal and breathing tricks. I am a lifelong stutterer, scientist and poet, and extremely tired of the snake-oil-salesmen methods that continue to set back real stuttering research and possible treatments.

Sorry for the rant, but life is short, and the quicker these charlatans are exposed the better.