ATLANTA -- One Atlanta woman is about to willingly take a drug most parents warn their daughters about. We're talking about GHB, more commonly known as the date rape drug.
GHB has plenty of bad press from predators who have slipped it into drinks at bars and party's to take advantage of women. But for Vicki Stern-Brown the drug doesn't represent fear. It represents hope.
Stern-Brown started to lose her voice seven years ago. When she speaks it's almost like listen to someone with laryngitis. You can understand her broken whisper if you're sitting next to her. But Stern-Brown admits phones, drive thru windows and crowds are a challenge.
She's also the creator of ProMom Couture, a business featured on Oprah, and says the illness has changed the way she is able to promote the company.
"I email but I'm very much about connecting and talking with people and I've backed off of that. I do my best to have meetings in person," said Stern-Brown.
Stern-Brown has talked with nearly a dozen doctors and visited four states. Her condition was diagnosed as everything from reflux to anxiety, before doctors realized it was really abductor spasmodic dysphonia or AD-SD.
"Most vocal chords when you talk they open and close," explained Stern-Brown.
Her vocal chords spasm, thanks to jumbled signals coming from her brain. Doctors at Mount Sinai in New York believe Gamma Hydroxybutric acid, GHB, can help calm those signals, giving her back her voice.
All you have to do is watch how expressive Stern-Brown is with her hands and face, to imagine how much is missing. Stern-Brown wants to be funny, but it's hard to tell a joke in a whisper.
"Even if I'm not funny, even if they heard me and didn't laugh, it's still a part of how I express myself," she quips.
GHB is a highly controlled drug. The federal government treats it the same as heroine and cocaine. But it has been medically approved, to treat narcolepsy. Stern-Brown says she will be only the 8th person treated, to help determine its impact on SD.
"Supposedly it's going to block whatever it is that causes my brain to misfire to my vocal chords," said Stern-Brown.
She'll head to New York in October, when doctors will scan her brain as she takes the drug to determine the right amount to help her voice, without causing negative side effects such as confusion, depression or fatigue. If it works, she will have to take it every day. But Stern-Brown says it's a small price to pay to be heard.
"I'm thrilled. I'm anxious. I'm nervous. I'm excited. I'm all those things," she said.