Friday, February 1, 2008

Vocal cord still paralysed

After my last speech therapy session, my speech pathologist was so impressed at the improvement of my voice over the last twelve months that she suggested I have another nasal endoscopy (camera on the end of a flexible stick stuck up my nose and through to the back my throat) to have a look at my vocal cords in action (or inaction, as the case may be).

Yesterday, I had just that. It was less uncomfortable than previously, but the result was still negative. According to the ENT surgeon, the minimal movement observed in the left cord seemed to be the result of my breath rather than any activity of the cord itself.

I was then offered more therapy and or surgery. The former would simply be revision of what I've already covered, so I declined. The latter would involve a half hour operation under local anaesthetic in which a small piece of plastic would be inserted into my larynx via an incision in my neck. This would push my paralysed left cord further over towards the "on" position, and, once adjusted with the help of a speech pathologist evaluating my voice during surgery, would hopefully give me a little more volume and endurance. I was open to this possibility, especially after giving a two hour lecture on Wednesday night and ending up very croaky yesterday. However, the surgeon warned that the benefits would likely be fairly small and suggested that unless my voice problems were significantly reducing my quality of life, it might not be worth the (small) risk of surgery.

When asked to assess where my voice was up to, I estimated that I now have about 60% of the functionality of my former voice, though this is adequate in about 95% of my life. I also think my voice continues to slowly improve (while leading services recently, many people have commented on my increasing volume and quality of tone, and my singing range has slightly increased). Therefore, we decided to postpone any further decisions until after another nasal endoscopy in May.