Did you think this was going to be about music? Naaah, I do love music but don’t have any musical skills! Nope, this is about those little cords that help us talk!
What is it like to live with only one functional vocal cord?
Painful and exhausting for sure! The “frog in your throat feeling” with no way to clear it! You try and clear your throat and it just causes more & more pain! Some days are worse than others and you have to decide is what you want to say necessary? Sometimes you just have to deal with the pain as you need to talk, but often I chose not to talk because I am tired of the pain!
I unfortunately had to have my right thyroid removed in 2013 as the biopsy had come back too abnormal and the doctor couldn’t tell if the lump on my thyroid was cancerous or not, so he said it had to come out! Thankfully it turned out not to be!
There are always risks that come with every surgery and this one had the chance of damaging the vocal cords as they run right by/through the thyroid. After the surgery my doctor said everything looked good and I had no issues speaking at the time! A week later that all changed!
A week after the surgery I lost my voice almost completely and I could barely talk for 3 months, that was a lot of fun! Well, most people enjoyed it more than I did as I couldn’t really say anything to them when they talked to me or joked around! That was a very long 3 months! After that my voice slowly came back slowly, but unfortunately I learned that my right vocal cord was paralyzed!
When one of your vocal cords doesn’t work, the remaining one tries to compensate for it and works overtime! This causes a lot of pain, and I mean a lot! You never know how much a vocal cord does until it doesn’t do it anymore! Talking, breathing and even eating is hard when your remaining vocal cord works too hard and it all starts to hurt!
I can no longer talk loud, yell, scream or project my voice in any way, if I do, a ton of pain happens! As with most of my health challenges you can’t see and most of the time won’t hear how this effects me! Not many people will understand when you say that you don’t like to talk on the phone or in person much as it hurts too much!
Cepacol lozenges are great for numbing the pain, but with that comes overworking the good vocal cord and such because you can’t feel it, so at times the pain will get worse when that numbness wears off! And of course you can’t just eat those all day long, I tried and got sick, yuck!
All the vocal cord paralysis challenges got even worse when I had to have surgery to fix the Gerd and hiatal hernia! That is a whole box of fun with it’s surgery complications by itself! Breathing got so much worse after that surgery that I had to go to speech therapy to help me breath better. Yes there is a thing called breathing therapy, who knew? Not me!
While the therapy did help me breathe a little bit better, there was no helping my vocal cord! I remember seeing this therapist before and she told me this time that she is impatient when it comes to anything working! Can you imagine that, a speech therapist being impatient and wanting to end the therapy sessions because what she is trying just isn’t working! Well, yup we ended the sessions, and I more than likely will say no to going back if my doctor suggests it. As with all my other therapy sessions I saved all my paperwork and can work on everything myself at home and I never get the results either of us want in these sessions!
When I was working I had to always talk quite a bit, no matter what job I had. I really tried hard to find a mini bullhorn or voice amplifier, but at the time I could not find any, sure now I can, but I don’t need one anymore! I do have an app downloaded on my phone that I can type what I want to say into and it will say it, but that takes so much time, I rarely have to use, but it will remain there just incase!
There are a couple different things the doctor could do for me and that is: injections in the vocal cord to try to get it to work some, a surgery where they would go in and physically move the right vocal cord closer to the left so the left one didn’t have to work so much or go to a different speech therapist more specialized in this area! Sadly there is no guarantee that any of it will help and he said with my history of getting all the complications from surgeries he didn’t really recommend it!
2019 the lump on my left thyroid had gotten bigger, so I had to go get that biopsied, man I really hate those huge needles being stuck in my neck and wiggled around and they tell you not to swallow during it, that’s very hard not to do. Of course since the way it all went last time I started freaking out that I might have to have surgery again and what would happen if my left vocal cord was paralyzed? I heard that people have had that happen, but I don’t know how they go about life with it! Very scary to think about, would I be able to talk? How would it affect my breathing? What would it be like with 2 paralyzed vocal cords? So many questions and never enough answers! Thankfully the biopsy came back normal this time and we just have to continue to watch it.
So for now we just continue the fun of living with one good vocal cord and hoping the lump on my left thyroid never becomes an bigger issue!