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Bonnie’s Story

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Chronic Cough

Bonnie’s severe chronic cough began after a sudden vocal cord spasm in 2016. At first, she thought it was just “more of the same” cough she’d had before. Never fully recovering from a surfing accident as a teenager, Bonnie endured a variety of complex health issues over the years, including a similar cough triggered by complications from a surgery. This time, though, nothing would provide relief.

Disrupting Her Life

An active athlete and mother of two sons, Bonnie says the coughing disrupted her entire life. “So many aspects of your life are impacted,” shares Bonnie. “People can’t understand you, so it’s isolating because you just don’t want to talk to anyone. Breathing is a very big part of fitness, so I couldn’t train right. It stopped my whole life.”

Bonnie pursued various treatments at local care facilities, but none resolved her cough. “We tried speech therapy sessions and BOTOX injections,” notes Bonnie, “but not one thing was successful. I was on my last leg.”

The Turning Point

Bonnie says everything changed when she was referred by her laryngologist to Temple Health. At Temple, she met with Barbara Ebersole, BFA, MA, CCC-SLP, assistant director of Speech and Language Pathology at the Temple Head & Neck Institute. “Chronic cough rehabilitation is a unique subspecialty of speech pathology, and very few clinicians have expertise in managing this condition,” notes Barbara.

“My  experience allowed me to listen carefully to Bonnie and tailor an intervention specific to her symptoms. Changing behavior can be difficult, so I also serve as a coach to help train and encourage patients as they adopt our recommendations.”

After three years of non-stop coughing, it was completely gone. I just hugged [Barbara] and cried.

- Bonnie

In her first session with Barbara, Bonnie says she learned a simple exercise that stopped her coughing entirely. After her second session, she was discharged from therapy with her cough completely resolved. “I was in shock,” remembers Bonnie. “After 3 years of non-stop coughing, it was completely gone. I just hugged [Barbara] and cried.”

Rebuilding Strength, Returning to Life

Today, Bonnie is rebuilding her strength and especially enjoys walking her dog around the neighborhood. “I’m taking baby steps, but I’m much more optimistic and positive,” says Bonnie. “I can talk to people and train again. I’m just so grateful there’s a person like [Barbara] out there ... I am so thankful to Temple.”