On Tuesday, I returned to The Voice Clinic of Indiana for a fourth therapy session. I drove to Carmel feeling terribly frustrated, finding that my improvement had hit a wall soon after beginning the vocal fold strengthening exercises. I could not imagine what my therapist, Gabrielle, would have for me, to help me.
We sat down together and caught up on things. She agreed with my frustration that under most circumstances I should be producing a more clear voice. I was pleased that she suggested we scope my throat to determine if there were anything physical going on.
This was the fourth time I experienced the weird sensation of the scope being run up into my nose and down to my throat. There is a spot, when it nears its destination, that it feels nasty, despite the numbing spray that had been applied.
Gabrielle had me make a series of noises, do them at various pitches from low to high, and then simply talk for awhile. This all provided lots of video to observe.
As we watched some of it, I noticed two things. First, there was no more white area, so I assumed the surgical wound had completely healed. Second, at the base of where the surgery had been done, there was a round area of flesh, which did not look correct.
Dr. Parker entered and went right to the video. Very soon, he commented on the spot I noticed. “You have a granuloma. That’s why your vocal cords won’t close toward the bottom of the opening.” Indeed, the video showed that the top half of the opening was closing nicely as I spoke, but a small gap remained in the bottom half.
He explained that a granuloma often grows at the sight on an injury. As far as my body was concerned, the surgery was an injury.
The above image is not of my vocal cords. The granuloma in this picture is the closest I could find to the size and location of mine, though mine is at the very bottom of my vocal cords, with no gap below it.
Thankfully, almost always a granuloma can be reduced, and the area returned to normal, with medication. Dr. Parker said it can take weeks to months, pinning it most likely to a couple of months. Because of my surgery next week, I can’t begin the medication until I get approval after the surgery, so I wait.
For now, I don’t need to continue voice exercises. My voice will be raspy until the medicine can do its work. Because the top half of my folds close nicely, I am hopeful—and Gabrielle agreed—that once the granuloma is gone I should have a nice, clear voice.
While I am frustrated for the setback, I am glad to have it pinned down, and for it to be something that should heal fully, easily, and not take terribly long. I can easily live with that, and be thankful.
Till then, I will continue to seek ways to describe my voice. Today, it is croaky. Yesterday, it was raspy. Tomorrow, what will it be? Might it be gruff, or rough, or tough to speak? Will it sound scratchy, patchy, or catchy? How about hoarse and coarse, showing that something is amiss at the source?
Even though my voice sounds crappy, I will strive to remain happy, especially on those days I can get in my nappy.