Allow me to show you some vocal cords. Here are someone else’s normal cords. The right is abduction (apart for breathing). You can see that the cords are “clean” and free of any kinds of lesions (nodules, cysts, etc.). Nice and smooth.
The left is adduction (coming together to vibrate). The cords move toward and away from each other in a wave-like motion; the speed at which they do that determines pitch. This picture is probably from the moment of closest impact. They’re pretty much together with no real gaps, but they’re also clearly not “squeezed” shut. This is what you want:
I have three problems with mine:
(1) a cyst on one side (which has traditionally been viewed as “not your fault / not due to abuse or poor technique / just crappy luck,” although recent research is questioning that).
(2) a “reactive” nodule on the other side. Again, this isn’t necessarily my “fault”–it’s just that the other cord gets sick of trying to close and bumping into the “thing” on the other side, so it says “screw you” and develops a callous.
A node alone would be treatable with voice therapy. A cyst is not.
This is the picture taken of my cords during surgery. As you can see, it’s really not much on there. Dr. P removed both.
(3) One of my cords is “lazy” (paresis). Not paralyzed, just sluggish, and it has trouble moving itself over into the center to meet the other cord.
As a result, when I tried to speak or sing, my cords had an “hourglass” shape. I don’t have a picture of that from the surgery, because I was knocked out (and therefore unable to talk or sing), but it looked something like this:
Paralysis/paresis often will resolve on its own–within about 9 months. I’m past that point, so, it was time to do something about it. During the surgery, Dr. P injected a “filler” substance beside the vocal cord to “push” it over toward the center.
Here’s what things looked like today:
He said, “I couldn’t ask for a better outcome,” and he cleared me to start a little, gentle singing. There’s still a little gap between the cords, but that’s the work of voice therapy and lessons.
I’m going to try to schedule a (short…30 minute) lesson with my voice teacher at the end of the week or next week.
I’ve wanted this for so long…and now I’m nervous, because I don’t know how to proceed. My voice therapist assures me that I’m not starting from scratch, but I’m afraid that I won’t know how to pace myself between now and September to get rid of those last bits of stiffness, improve my posture/abdominal support, and to work my way up to a full schedule.
But still….This news couldn’t have come at a better time. Well, any time would be great, really.