I’ve always said I wanted twins. And my dreams have finally come true!….just not quite how I envisioned. In
June, I found out I have twin vocal chord nodules (which I named because duh) and they’re benign and harmless. For real this time.
Glanda fam, meet Ned and Ted. Those pokey little white bumps you see are my twins.
What some of you may or may not know is, I answer to “Coach Val in my spare time. I’ve coached the Samford University Dance Team for almost 5 years now and when auditions and Alabama’s pollen season hit at the same time this past April, my voice couldn’t hang. I totally lost my voice to the point where my husband had to announce the team at the end of the weekend because I was lucky to get a squeak out. Felt fine. Couldn’t talk.
After a week of sleep and hibernation my voice was still pretty squeaky and people were starting to ask “when is your voice coming back?” or my personal fav, “what’s wrong with your voice?”
“Oh, it’s just still gone from auditions. It’s getting better! Just not back to normal yet.”
Ok, so when we entered week 6 of no-voice-Val, my mother-in-law insisted I go get it checked. At this point I had maybe half of my voice back but some sounds and pitches still didn’t come out audibly. And looking back now, a history of head and neck cancer and no voice….probably should have sounded a few alarms, however I’m counting that particular blonde moment as a massive win because cancer and fear wasn’t my first thought.
The first week of June, I had an appointment with UAB Voice Center to get things checked out to see why my voice wasn’t returning fully. I was pretty nervous about the scope situation, as I have somehow escaped being scoped thus far, but I was assured several times that “it wasn’t that bad.” That’s a lie. It was that bad. I now have SO much respect for those H&N cancer warriors that get scoped at follow-up each time.
They first gave me the numbing spray up each nostril and had me wait several minutes for it to work. That gave me just enough time to observe everything in the room and imagine what everything was used for and where it might be going. Getting something sprayed up your nose wasn’t a great start. But unfortunately that wasnt where things being shoved up my nose stopped.
Next was a semi-taught cord with a light and a camera on the end and it was heading towards my face. I made sure to tell them that the left side (treatment side) of my nose bleeds pretty easily, so we thankfully avoided that mess, but straight up the right side it went.
“Just a little pressure here.” It approached my sinus cavity, and I would have believed you if you had told me a mack truck was navigating my nasal tissue rather than this small-ish scope. I got past that relatively quickly and I thought I was in the clear as far as the pain and nuisance goes. Hard part was over. Nope.
I swallowed. The scope hung just past my tonsils and became more evident with each adjustment. And if just sitting there wasn’t uncomfortable enough, now I had to make sounds!? We ran through the vowel sounds and up and down the pitch scales a few times mixed with a ton of swallowing (which was the worst part). My saliva is a little thicker down around the back of my throat which kept obscuring the clarity of what the scope needed to record, so swallowing was the only solution there. Poor girl holding the scope almost got punched a few times out of pure reflex, but I managed to maintain some restraint to not get kicked out of UAB’s voice center.
As I made each sound, I had to press a mic up against my throat to pick up the sound and resonance a little better. Seriously, so much multitasking but my main focus was getting that camera out of my throat ASAP because at this point tears were streaming down my face and it was getting embarrassing. I wasn’t crying. I just don’t think my body loved having the paparazzi hanging around my internal red carpet.
Finally it was over. I wiped the tears from my eyes and swallowed normally before reaching for my emotional support water cup as they introduced me officially to Ned and Ted. They’re actually so tiny, they hesitated to even call them nodules, but that’s what they went with and all I could think about was John Mayer. IYKYK.
I don’t care how big Ned and Ted were, this girl wasn’t about to consent to head and neck surgery again. Jk. I probably would have if it was necessary, but not for anything elective. So I’ve spent the better half of my summer doing voice therapy to practice using my throat muscles differently so that my vocal chords can heal.
As of last week, I’d say my voice is maybe at 90% but things have drastically improved from where I started late Spring. I’ll be scoped one more time before band camp starts on August 10, and while Ned and Ted won’t be totally gone yet (because your voice improved way before visual change is apparent), I’m hoping they have shrunk a noticeable amount! I may have always wanted twins, but these I’d like to send back! Half of my team this year has never heard my actual voice…but maybe soon!
Onward and upward!
More footage if you’re into that kind of thing: