Here are four images captured by my surgeon, Dr. Noah Parker, at The Voice Clinic of Indiana in Carmel, during my first visit to him, twelve days after surgery.
I do not, at this time, have any pre-surgery pictures. I requested those, and he said that I will soon receive in the mail a DVD which will contain all of the images that have been captured, and including a video of the cords while in action.
The first picture is of my vocal cords at rest. Though this is post-surgery, you can discern the natural shape and length of the cords
The second image is a bit closer. Note the white area at the bottom. Here is where Dr. Parker stitched together the two sides, to make the opening smaller by making the length of the cords shorter. The larger the space and longer the cords, the slower they vibrate and the lower the pitch, that is, the number of vibrations per second, and the smaller the space and shorter they are the quicker they vibrate and the higher the pitch.
Pre-surgery, my pitch was 115 vibrations per second, right on the average for a male. Dr. Parker said that female range is 200-250. Julie’s pitch registered at 246. Post-surgery, my pitch registered at 240.
The white area will turn pink as the cords heal. As they heal, the hoarseness with which I now speak will gradually dissipate, akin to one’s being raspy when suffering a severe cold or sore throat and its easing as one recovers.
Dr. Parker instructed me to vocalize an eeeeeeee sound. My vocal cords open. In the next image, the area which he stitched is more visible.
In the final image, my cords are wide open. Dr. Parker gave the good news that all looks well. I was on strict voice rest the first twelve days, but a few words slipped when I was caught off guard. I was not to cough, practicing the silent cough, but I could not stifle as many as one third of my potential coughs. I sneezed three times. Since this was not like a wound on my skin that I could inspect, I had no idea if these occasions were damaging the surgery, causing the stitches to pull apart. Dr. Parker had said that a bit of tearing always occurs, but if I experienced any he did not comment, nor did I think to ask.
As I post this on Monday, February 6, it has been six days since I first spoke. It seems that my hoarseness has lessened a bit. It is easier to speak and I am able to talk a louder. In worship, yesterday, I attempted to sing one hymn. I had to ditch it before completing one stanza, feeling too much strain on my throat.
I return to the doctor on March 7. After he takes a fresh look at my cords, I will have a session with the voice therapist who specializes in working with trans folks.
In the mean time, I’ll just keep “hoarsing” around.