As with most surgical procedures, one must have follow-up visits or therapy to improve the healing and overall outcome. My vocal cord surgery was no different. I had made the decision to switch vocal therapists in the department and met with the new therapist. She explained her background as an opera singer and her plan to work with me to strengthen my voice, try to reduce the raspy sound that resulted from the surgery, and see if she couldn’t return some of my singing ability. She advised me that she could give no guarantees and that it would be a long process. She taught me the first series of exercises and sent me with instructions for alternating the process with some vocal rest to prevent a repeat of my first attempt at therapy exercises.
During the weeks that turned into months of rebuilding and learning what my voice could do, I had a scare where I felt as though my throat was tightening and sounds were catching when I spoke. There was also a sharpness coming through the incision that concerned me. Things just didn’t feel right. I called the nurse and set up an appointment with the doctor. After a short wait in the exam room, the vocal therapist entered. The office had called her and asked her to meet to discuss my concerns. She began by making new video and audio recordings to document what was going on. We were joined by the doctor and his nurse and the discussion surrounding the new recordings revealed that one of my vocal cords was still swollen – not unusual for that stage of the recovery. What was concerning, though, was the discovery that rather than my vocal cords creating sound when I spoke, the muscles surrounding them were doing the majority of the work. No one felt this news especially problematic. It was not ideal but could be managed and corrected with the vocal therapy. I was instructed once again to return to light use of my voice and focus heavily on the exercises for strengthening. I felt much better about where I was in the healing process. We had a plan.