Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Speaking Without Pain

So, here I am 2 months out from a clean scan and I have lost my voice, UGH!  It has become normal really; I have continued to have throat pains and hoarseness for no apparent reason since the Cancer diagnosis in 2007.  I have generally thought that the throat tightness and sore throats were just side effects of the neck surgeries.  Well, a week went by and no change... then 2 weeks, and 3 weeks; finally, the 4th week I went to the doc.  Yep, that isn't good and there is some swelling.  
So off I went to get an neck ultra sound and see my ENT again.  At my appointment the ENT's aid took one listen and said, "I think I see a voice pathologist in your future."  Yeah, another doctor... 

That Doctor heard my pitiful sounding voice and told me that this is very common after neck and thyroid surgeries.  It turned out that my neck muscles didn't like being messed with and that they were tense.  This caused strain on my larynx and vocal cords.  The sound were broken raspy and in general hoarse.  After a few tests, I was diagnosed as having Muscle Tension Dysphonia (MTD).  You can learn more here: http://www.ntuh.gov.tw/ENT/DocLib7/Muscle%20tension%20dysphonia%2020070523.pdf

The Speech Doc suggested voice therapy to re-train my muscles so that they relax enough to speak without strain.  The ENT Doc concurred after the physical neck check.  I am so glad they are in the same office :) 

The diagnostic tests were actually simple and the tools that the speech therapist used were pretty neat.  First, there was a mask with a small tube that I spoke into and a computer measured the sounds waves.  Then I was given a microphone to speak specific words and the computer recordings showed the measured variations as well.  Then, I read a article to a video camera. And finally, the doctor used a lighted video scope to observe my vocal cords while I spoke (that part was no more uncomfortable than the lump feeling in my throat already, so I was fine).  

This was a truly interesting day to say the least.  Gosh, what technology can do to help people!!!  I am no going to be re-trained to speak and sing again.  With all the time that has gone by, having this annoyance removed by simple therapy will be a true blessing.  

I have given up so much of myself simply because I thought that the constant pain in the neck was part of it.  If someone had said you should go to the speech therapist, I might not have listened or taken it seriously enough back then (when I had the surgery).  I am so grateful that God has once again shown me in His time that I am not forgotten.  I am so excited to say in a few months; I may actually be able to SING praises.  I am so very hopeful, yes, to be made whole again :)