Thank you Dr. Weinberger - from Tess (and mum) from Scotland
This wonderful story is courtesy of Tess' mum, Ciara MacLaverty. More about her daughter's story of being cured from a 14 month "mystery cough" located HERE.
Update 1: Tess' instant cure and recovery story is now on www.Scotsman.com Great job by mum to get the word out to the world.
Regular readers, oh, readers kind and fair: I wrote this feature to send to a newspaper. They want to do their own report about Tess's miracle cough cure. So, I saved you the inside story of our 2020 - the year Tess coughed a hundred times a day, every day, until a retired Californian doctor cured her on Zoom. Spoiler: It's a 5 minute read and there's a happy ending.
2020: Our Daughter Coughed for a Year, until a Retired Doctor Cured Her on Zoom.
In January 2020, my husband and I sat down to watch a DVD. It was called 1917, a glossy war film, full of gunfire, bombs and men screaming for their lives. I thought I heard our daughter coughing in bed. She has asthma, so I went to check. I found her doubled-over in a kind of whooping cough struggle, that came from nowhere. It was a horrible sound - a choking 'bark', and her eyes were wide in shock. Trying to hide my panic, I grabbed her inhalers and we abandoned the film and spent an hour, trying to soothe her to sleep. We had no idea, she would spend all of 2020 coughing every day, hundreds, even thousands of times a day, without any hope of healing. That January, we followed our GP-led asthma treatment: more inhalers, oral steroids (miserable for her) and antibiotics for a chest infection. I had a ledger book to record her symptoms. Previous months of blank pages and the odd note - No issues -became a thicket of handwritten bewilderment: nightly coughing fits / rocked to sleep again / distress and exhaustion / cough loads worse / tight chest / WTF? I used a yellow highlighter pen for small improvements, blue biro for frown-face emojis, beside details of relapse and deterioration. By February, my dread was fuelled by reports of 'Corona Virus' coming from Wuhan and Italy. She didn't have that, no? It wasn't here yet? It was surely on its way. I spent hours clicking on Dr Google. Someone on an asthma message board suggested VCD - Vocal Cord Dysfunction, something I'd never heard of. I found a Facebook Group, four thousand strong, of people who had coughed and struggled for breath, for years. My heart ached for them all. There was no cure, and the only 'treatment' was Speech and Language therapy and 'breathing techniques.' The 23rd March, 2020 was Tess's tenth birthday, and the first ever day of UK lockdown. "I never thought I'd be having my birthday in lockdown!' she announced. Me neither. And the brutal coughing fits continued. I sent video clips of the cough to her asthma specialist: Tess in a dressing gown, her head thrown back, as if gulping for air, her small frame wracked by hacking. He prescribed yet more harsh steroids, 'although, I don't expect them to work.' He suggested it could be 'post viral cough,' and would, 'go away after a few months.'
"He prescribed yet more harsh steroids, 'although, I don't expect them to work.' He suggested it could be 'post viral cough,' and would, 'go away after a few months.'" - Ciara MacLaverty, Mum
A locum GP said it could be 'a habit cough' and we should focus less on it. I would gently plead with Tess to try and suppress, or swallow the cough - or every second cough - but she would sob, and tell me she couldn't do it. 'You don't know what it's like Mum! Stopping the cough is like trying to walk on clouds.' I read that 'silent' reflux could cause cough and our GP prescribed anti-reflux tablets, which helped at first, but the effect faded after a couple of months and another paediatrician told us to wean off the pink pills. They are dangerous long-term. I consulted private dieticians over Zoom. Clear-skinned and enthused, they hinted that serious diet change would be needed for healing. One advised six months of treatment that cost as much as an all-inclusive holiday in Majorca for a family of four. It also involved giving up most things that kids live on - pasta sauce, pizza, milk. Still, I was tempted. I wondered if it was our only hope. Tess was so miserable, we decided to grant her the life-long dream of getting a dog. We took a private skin allergy test beforehand, just in case. To her elation, the test showed no significant allergy and Sita, a five-month-old puppy who looked like Bambi, arrived from a Romanian rescue charity. Daily summer dog walks were peppered with Tess's dry coughs and spells of her feeling 'puffed.'
Schools reopened in August. Tess would come home saying her throat was sore 'as a hot rock' and she was breathless and 'coughy' in the playground. Other kids would look at her, wondering if she had Covid. I wondered if she'd had Covid. 'You can't say 100% about anything, but I'm 100% this isn't Covid,' said her asthma doctor, over the phone. We were still in wretched coughing limbo. By mid-Autumn, the cough was too intrusive and exhausting for Tess to function at school, so she stayed home. There was also the daily threat of catching Covid, but this was secondary. We were referred to Ear Nose and Throat at the children's hospital. An intrusive throat scope identified vocal nodules ('like singers have?') and Muscle Tension Dysphonia - basically, tightness and imbalance in the vocal cords. The test was stopped early when Tess nearly fainted. We were put on a waiting list for Voice Therapy. Like the rest of the world, we were glad to see the back of 2020. I found a palm-sized click-counter in an old drawer. Tess was starting 2021 with an average of 100 to 150 coughs, before sleep. I recalled the anniversary of the 1917 war film DVD. For a year, it had been impossible to watch any DVD in the evening, with our girl coughing her throat raw. The heart-sink sound from her bedroom was audible in the living room between ten and eleven pm. 'It's like an alarm going off in my brain, I can't help it, it just comes,' was how Tess described the 'tickle' that triggered the coughing fits, and kept them going. It's like an itch that you have to scratch. Could it be a tic? An overwhelming physical compulsion? For what seemed like the millionth time, I battered into Google. Search: tic cough, habit cough. And there it was, a video popped up that would change our lives: Documentary - The Medical Doctor Who Permanently Cures the World's Coughs
The ten-minute version. Are you kidding me? On You Tube, a retired American doctor is coaching a young girl called Bethany (who looks just like Tess!) and he helps Bethany suppress her cough. Bethany's Dad, Dennis Buettner, has filmed the event, and packaged it, complete with music, subtitles and filmic parental commentary - 'What you're about to see, shocked and amazed us.' In the film, Dr Miles Weinberger beams from his photograph, like everybody’s favourite Grampa. He radiates goodwill and compassion. His voice can be heard on Bethany's laptop, as he coaches her through the 'waves' of the massive urge to cough. Bethany sips her water, winces and swallows. This is clearly effortful for her. Dr Weinberger has the tone of an air traffic controller who's guiding a jumbo jet away from disaster, to a safe landing.
He tells Bethany, 'You're taking control, you're not letting it control you. I know it's not easy, but you're doing it. You've done three minutes now, I bet you can do four. And the longer you can do it, the easier it's gonna get. You may have to do it for a while, but gradually, it's gonna get easier...'
It is indeed miraculous to watch. I went from nightly despair to electrified hope. Yes! Rewiring is needed! The brain and the throat have been tripping like a faulty fire alarm. They are stuck, trapped. This is both physical and mental. But, there is a way out, and Dr Weinberger has the expertise to uncover it. At the end of the video, Bethany is filmed the next day, on her way to full healing. 'If I can do it, you can do it too,' she says, 'Thank you, Dr Weinberger.' I can't wait to show the video to Tess, but I have to play it casual. I don't want to overload her with crushing expectation. 'There's a girl, like you on You Tube,' I say. "I think the video might help us too.' Tess agrees that Bethany is 'pretty' and lovely and, 'it might help.' I email Bethany's dad, thanking him and telling him we will try the video at bedtime, peak-cough. To my amazement he replies immediately and copies in the God-like Dr Miles Weinberger himself. They wish us luck. They are confident. And, so it was. How right it felt. I have written 'Miracle Day' in my ledger. It is now three weeks since Tess started to heal. She watched the same video of Dr Weinberger curing Bethany. It was tricky at first; the urge to cough was so strong, Tess was whimpering and groaning, restless in bed. But she did it. She resisted the cough. The compulsive 'tickle' started to recede in frequency and strength. No one is listening to the blare of the false fire-alarm. Soon, its power will run out. It amazes me that we could have missed this; that countless other children (and adults) are stuck with daily, barking 'horror' coughs they could fix, if only they knew how. None of our UK doctors told us about this. They were dedicated and well-meaning, but unable to help. Bethany's dad made it his passion to spread the word about this cure. His website, www.habitcough.com reads like an advert, but he is not asking for money, he is simply spreading the small miracle that transformed his family life. He hopes to translate the video into many languages. Dr Weinberger, it turns out, is a Professor Emeritus of Paediatrics at the University of Iowa. He has a lengthy CV full of medical plaudits and positions, but his expertise is matched only by his radiant kindness and compassion. He is a true healer. He offered to talk to Tess from his home in San Diego, on Zoom, about any lingering concerns re asthma or symptoms. We accepted. As we waited to connect, Tess clicked on the option for fake Zoom background. 'Come on, Tess, show the man some respect!' joked Tess's Dad. When Dr Weinberger appeared, he, himself, sat like a Medical Messiah in front of a photo-shopped background of a Californian beach sunset. May he bask in it. 'Spread the word,' he said, as he wound up the call, gently, patiently, after an hour, and we thanked him again. I'm spreading the word: if your child has a chronic cough, Dr Miles Weinberger might just save your family from years of suffering. He's a miracle worker. Pass it on. - Ciara MacLaverty
Made by sweet Tess for her favourite Dr. Weinberger