• Jessica Hatfield

  • Sharing the gift of song
  • Jessica Hatfield always loved to sing. But when a mystery ailment robbed her of her voice, she needed help.

    After seeking care from speech and voice therapists in Nashville, Jessica needed to find a solution close to home - and she found Sullivan Center Outpatient Rehabilitation and Therapy in Kingsport.

  • Jessica and therapist Debbie Beebe
  • Jessica tells her story

    I have been singing longer than I can even remember. I also love to talk and make connections with people. As a wife, mother of three and the contemporary worship leader and music associate at First Baptist Church Kingsport, it is critical my voice be in optimum working condition daily. I am grateful to Wellmont Health System for the opportunity to share my story.

    My voice issues began during my first pregnancy. I almost completely lost my voice after my first trimester, requiring me to travel back and forth for singing and speech therapies at Vanderbilt for a period of one year. While the therapies did seem to help me improve, they were never able to put their finger on the cause of my voice complications.

    Throughout my second and third pregnancies, I was able to maintain my voice using the voice exercises recommended by Vanderbilt doctors. However, I began to experience frequent migraine headaches following my third pregnancy, as well as an unusual tightness in my neck. I felt a lump sensation in my throat that could have been an indication of reflux, but medicine failed to resolve the issues, and no other symptoms appeared. I was miserable trying to function with migraines, work responsibilities, and caring for my three children. I had no idea that these were early signs of something more involved that threatened my ability to do what I loved.

    In February 2014, I became ill with laryngitis and completely lost my voice. Usually, my voice bounces back within a couple of days after an illness like that, but this time was different. It seemed as though it would never be the same again. My voice range was much lower, making communication with my family or in group settings extremely difficult. The tension in my head and throat was intense, and my headaches were almost unbearable.

    I sought the help of my speech and voice therapists in Nashville, where it was recommended I see a physical therapist specializing in Myofascial Release. My problem was more involved than muscle tension. It was a problem with my fascia. I had no idea what that was, and I was distressed to learn Myofascial Release therapy is a very specialized field with the closest therapists located in Knoxville or Nashville, which mean I would need to travel once or twice a week for therapy.

    My heart sank at the thought of missing out on the physical therapy that could truly help me, but I could not imagine managing my family and my job with such a rigorous travel schedule.

    Desperate for help, I almost called the therapist in Knoxville to schedule an appointment. Instead, I decided to call one of my friends who is a physical therapist here in Kingsport to inquire if she knew of anyone closer than Knoxville. She encouraged me to contact Greg Cross at Sullivan Center Outpatient Rehabilitation and Therapy. She was confident he could point me in the right direction.

    Greg responded to my inquiry almost immediately, and I was thrilled to learn that they do have a physical therapist at Sullivan Center that specializes specifically in Myofascial Release therapy. Her name is Debbie Beebe, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work with her. After seeing her once a week for six weeks, I am experiencing huge improvements in both my voice and my headaches.

    While these therapy sessions are doing more to help my voice than anything I have ever tried, the icing on the cake is I have the benefit of driving fewer than five miles to my appointments rather than making trips to Knoxville or Nashville every week. So thank you, Greg, Debbie and the Sullivan Center, for providing such a specialized program of therapy. You are helping me get my voice back and making this momma's life so much easier!

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