A year and a half ago, (January 2003), I came down with a bad cold that settled in my throat and turned into a wracking cough. I was feverish and snotty, but the cough was the worst part...barking and scratching and wheezing its way into laryngitis for several days. This would otherwise be of little consequence, but it had an unintended side effect.
It ruined my voice.
Ever since then, my voice has been markedly different. It's rougher and scratchier and deeper. It changes octave, like I'm a 13 year-old boy going through puberty (or like the pimple-faced kid on The Simpsons). Sometimes when I start to speak, I make a squeaking or squealing sound, or sometimes I'll just push air out, and no sound comes at all.
It's been frustrating and depressing. I'm embarassed to speak to people, I can't sing well anymore, and I don't sound like myself. I hate it.
I went to the doctor last January and she prescribed a nasal spray, which would be an easy fix if that was the solution. It wasn't...nothing changed. So, they needed to take a closer look.
I went to the doctor this morning. He had me inhale an anesthetic spray (with a terrible metallic taste) that numbed one nostril, then inserted a tiny camera on a flexible rubber rod (about the thickness of a spaghetti strand) into my nose and down to my vocal cords. I could only feel it go about 2 inches back. I didn't even realize it had gone down to my throat until I swallowed and it was there. It really wasn't as bad as I thought, although I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to do it again.
You know, what really terrified me the most was that he wouldn't find anything. That he'd just shrug his shoulders, say "sorry!" and send me home, and I'd sound like this for the rest of my life.
Thankfully, that didn't happen.
I have a small growth on one of my vocal cords. It's totally benign, but it's extremely likely that it grew there as a swelling from that bad cold (your vocal cords clap together when you cough). It's a polyp. I wasn't just imagining things.
The thing is, not everyone noticed the change in my voice. My parents didn't, because I talk to them often. My Aunt Jodi did, because she talks to me very seldom and recognized the change. I cannot express what a relief it is that they actually found something.
So, here's the treatment:
1. No acid-rich or spicy foods, which aggravate it. That means no orange juice, no smoothies with citrus in them, no lemonade, no pasta with marinara, no pineapple (I'd even bought one and everything), no salsa, and >sigh< no curry. I think I might be able to get away with a really bland 1-star.
2. No eating right before bedtime or when I'm getting ready to lie down.
3. Prilosec, a prescription med generally used for acid reflux or indigestion. I'll be taking a higher dosage to neutralize any acids I do eat.
4. Voice therapy. I'll see someone on Thursday (just once) to learn some exercises to get my voice back.
I have a growth on my vocal cords, and I'm so relieved. Interesting.
This will go on for the next 3 months. They'll see me again at Thanksgiving, and if the growth is gone, great. If not...maybe surgery.