By Donnie Wayne Smith

The skinny on my larynx

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     The past year has been fairly stressful for me, vocally. I've never struggled to sing before, it always came easily, without much strain and my range was broad enough to do what I needed to do. About fourteen or fifteen months ago, I noticed I was becoming fatigued vocally much more quickly. All of the symptoms became progressively worse over time. I took two weeks off and barely spoke a word hoping it would alleviate the issue. It didn’t. Here’s a list from www.entnet.org of EXACTLY what I’ve been dealing with:

 

•Vocal fatigue 

•Unreliable voice - this is an understatement

•Delayed voice initiation

•Low, gravelly voice

•Low pitch

•Voice breaks in first passages of sentences

•Airy or breathy voice 

•Inability to sing in high, soft voice

•Increased effort to speak or sing

•Hoarse and rough voice quality

•Frequent throat clearing

•Extra force needed for voice

 

     In hindsight, I took for granted the thought that I could just scream away 5 or 6 nights a week, without harming my cords. Apparently, I was wrong. The good news is: it's not too bad and it's repairable. The bad news, I have to retrain myself to sing. 

     In the process of trying to figure out what the hell has been going on, I’ve been to three Otolaryngologists, another doctor, and my general practitioner. I’ve been told it was everything from acid reflux and GERD to some sort of psychosomatic, mental-issue, basically they said it was in my head. The second throat doc sent me to a speech therapist, a super sweet lady. After speaking with me for about 3 minutes she said, “ I can’t help you, this isn’t where you need to be”, and she called Dr. Kahane while I sat at her desk. 

     Let me take a moment to commend Dr. Kahane. Not once did I feel rushed, he was kind, patient and very understanding. He was the first doctor to take into consideration that my voice is my career and that it was VERY important to me. The others looked at me funny when I told them I was a professional singer. He spoke with The Missus and me for about 45 minutes, answering every question of mine and asking a ton of questions related to my voice and the issues I was having. I can’t tell you the relief I felt that someone was finally taking me seriously. Truly, I wanted to hug him. After our initial consultation, he took me to the room with the all scary scopes and stuff. I sang some tunes and read some words while he recorded it and looked at a bunch of numbers. Then he stuffed a scope up my nose and down my throat. I had to sing and speak some more while he recorded a video with a strobe light, it was uncomfortable to say the least. 

     To sum this up, I didn’t mean for this to be this long… I have a polyp on one side and an aggravated blood vessel, that could possibly rupture, on the other. (I also have issues related to reflux). 

     I’m hoping to start my voice therapy early next week. Not sure exactly what it will consist of, but I’m looking forward to getting back to normal. It’s been a mentally stressful ordeal. Dr. Kahane assures me that this happens all the time and that it’s very fixable as long as I’m willing to work with the therapist. I’m ready to try pretty much anything…

     Thanks to all my peeps for understanding and putting up with me sounding like I’m going through puberty again every night. Hopefully I’ll be able to start singing those songs you love so much again! 

 

Peace and good happiness stuff,

DWS

p.s.- Huge thanks to Kory for covering me on shows, as well as Bobbie and NaTasha for having my back and filling in so often. You guys are life (and wallet) savers. Much love on ya!

 

DWS

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