My Neurotic Throat

I don't remember the last time I was that nervous going to a doctor, but I guess I had a good reason. The ENT was going to take a look at my vocal chords in an attempt to diagnose the recent issue(s) that I've been having with my voice. And so I got to sit there. Waiting. For 40 minutes or so. Watching NY1.

The first thing the doctor did was ask why I was there. I explained what I did and my vocal woes. He asked to give him some examples of artists whose music I sing, and I said, "Jackie Wilson, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen." He looked at me and said, "I don't really see Jackie Wilson coming from you.” "Well, you should come see us!" Yes, I proceeded to plug my band. Never miss a moment, people.

After I tried my best to get a new fan, the doc sprayed my nostrils with an anesthetic in order to scope my vocal chords by inserting a fiber-optic line through my nose. Fun. He told me the stuff was going to taste like "shit," and it did. Relatively speaking, of course. And as it turns out, I have a deviated septum and a bone spur on my left side. But that's not what he was looking for.

He said that my vocal chords looked healthy - I do not have vocal polyps or nodules, which is what I was most worried about. However, he did say that I had what looked like the beginning of vocal nodules. Not to cause me unnecessary anxiety, he explained that some singers develop them and don't mind because they use what it does to their voice to an advantage. But he also recommended being proactive about it to make sure my throat stays healthy and strong for as long as I want to keep on keeping on with the singing. He recommended I see a speech therapist that is also a singer who works at St. Frances, and that she would help me to use my voice as effectively as I do without putting as much stress on it.

Doc also said that I have some silent acid reflux going on (silent because I don’t normally feel it), and that this can cause scar tissue to develop over time. He recommended watching the acidic food that I eat (i.e. tomato sauce, etc.), trying not to eat too close to going to sleep, and taking Tums once a day - no need for a prescription antacid at this point. I can do that. (And by the way, you’re not supposed to eat within 6 hours of going to sleep - but even the doc was like, “Who can do that?”)

Basically the message of the visit was: be proactive. He mentioned Adele as someone who didn't properly take care of their voice and subsequently had to have surgery to correct the damage. I think I would like to avoid that. But because my mind works the way that it does, I keep thinking that with every word I speak and every note I sing I'm damaging my voice. Yay! Well, I'm sure that feeling will go away. Or at least it would for someone who is less neurotic.

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    © STEVE SCHULTZ