It took me over a week to actually wrap my head around this one.
The summer is not just time for Meghan to get checked and cleaned up, it’s time for me too. And this summer I tracked down a new doctor.
Sometime around the end of April my voice started to bother me. I was getting hoarse easily. I explained it away as allergies, season change, dust, “I must be getting sick,” and everything else I could think of. Except it bothered me. And that creepy voice that sneaks in sometimes to remind me that my body has already betrayed itself once, started to take hold.
After almost 20 years of teaching, and never ever struggling to use my “teacher voice,” I couldn’t project. Simultaneously with the pain in my right implant, and the nodule being watched on the remnants of my thyroid, it started to get in my head.
I went to my primary doctor, and wasted several hours to get nothing that resembled an answer. They suggested a thyroid sonogram. I never went back.
I started researching ENTs locally. I found very few who took my insurance, and fewer who seemed to have any voice experience.
I turned to the internet and found a voice specialist at a facility I trust in NYC.
I don’t really know what I expected from the exam. I filled out the preliminary papers, and gave the basic Cowden’s rundown. They did a few tests externally with a microphone, and another with a camera in my nose. Not pleasant, but incredibly informative.
And there on the screen was a “benign appearing” nodule on the side of my vocal cords, causing them to briefly lock together when I make certain sounds. Fascinating. But bothersome all the same.
They reassured me several times that the nodules were “benign appearing.” I appreciated that, but reminded them many of my scars are from “benign, and benign appearing” growths. I asked about the prevalence, and if it was linked to my Cowden’s Syndrome. I got a very definitive, “Maybe, or maybe not.” These nodules occur in the general population, they can be caused by overuse, but what had me perplexed was the problem seemed to start when I did the LEAST amount of teaching for the year. I was out of my program for quite an extended time between spring testing and other professional obligations. So, why now?
And, what to do? September is looming, and my life will be in the classroom many hours a day. I need my silly voice, my sing-song voice, my stern voice, my loud voice, my quiet voice, and my serious voice. Elementary school students expect, and deserve nothing less.
I was given a number for a “voice therapist.” And as of now my voice is getting a workout leaving messages for her. I asked the doctor what are the chances this “voice therapy” could control the nodules. He told me it “couldn’t hurt.” I asked if this was like giving me compression hose for my horrendous veins? Is it going to be a situation where voice therapy delays an inevitable surgery? Because any scar tissue on my vocal cords seems scarier than the painful legs I’ve contended with for years.
The answer is, there is none. I will persist and connect with this voice therapist. I will hear her out and try my best. And in 4 months or so I will follow-up with the doctor to evaluate. That is assuming the fall semester goes off without incident, and all my new students can hear me loudly and clearly.
For now, I’m using mostly the quiet voice. Often mumbling to myself. Because whether this is Cowden’s related or not, the whole “growing things” in my body is incredibly old.
Watch. Wait. Check. Recheck. Remove if necessary. That’s how we roll.