Ailing ‘Dilbert’ cartoonist talks again

[AP] DUBLIN, Calif. – A balding, bespectacled working stiff inexplicably loses his voice — except when speaking in rhyme or pinching his nose.

It may sound like a farcical plot for a popular cartoon satirizing American office culture, but “Dilbert” cartoonist Scott Adams says he recovered less than a week ago from just such an affliction.

“I don’t want to give false hope to people who are suffering from the same thing,” Adams said, sitting at his drawing tablet in his suburban San Francisco office. “I don’t even know if my voice is going to last. Maybe this is an illusion. It came back but in a few days it could go away again forever.”

Adams, 49, appears to be a rare example of someone who has largely — but not totally — recovered from Spasmodic Dysphonia, a mysterious disease in which parts of the brain controlling speech shut down or go haywire. As many as 30,000 Americans are afflicted, typically in their 40s and 50s, experts say.

One of the most peculiar aspects of SD is that victims are typically unable to have intimate conversations in their normal voice. Yet they can speak under different circumstances, such as immediately after sneezing or laughing, or in an exaggerated falsetto or baritone, or while reciting poetry, according to SD support groups. Read more.

I don’t know what’s more amazing, Adams’ disease or his drawing tablet.