Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Medical marvels

I guess you could call it an occupational hazard, or call me a performing monkey. Either or.

Being a music teacher, I feel like I'm on stage all day. I spend my days singing or dancing or conducting or doing something wierd or some combination of the above. I also spend my days killing my vocal cords. I don't have specific voice training, which I think is a large part of the problem. (I'm looking into voice and breath instruction from a speech-language pathologist.) For the last two and a half months, however, I've felt as if I am constantly on the verge of losing my voice. It just feels strained all the time. Prompted my my union telling me that they'd buy me an FM system (basically a wireless mic) if I had a reccommendation from a specialist and the fact that I don't want to do more damage to my voice, I made an appointment.

Other than two quick visits to a walk in clinic after my car accident, I haven't been to a doctor in probably nine years (yes, I know, bad me!), so this whole "specialist" deal was rather new for me. It was so cool! [Those of you who don't like inside-of-the-body stories can skip to the next paragraph] In order to check my vocal cords, the doc first sprayed some freezing goop ("freezing goop" being the technical word for it) up my nose and down my throat, then sent me to the waiting room for a few minutes while it took effect. What a bizarre sensation to have one side of the inside of your nose go numb! He called me back into a different room with all kinds of crazy equipment in it and told me what he was about to do. Um, ok. GULP. He handed me a mirror so I could see the monitor behind me, then took a long skinny tube with a light and a camera on the end of it and threaded it up my nose and down into my throat, "to avoid the gagger, which is your tongue." He gave quite an animated running commentary. I would have laughed, but, well, I was told to keep my mouth shut and I had a tube up my nose. "Ok, so here's the inside of your nose... whup! Around the corner... there's your epiglotis [at which point I swallowed! Flap flap!]... and here we are at you vocal cords!" He told me to say a few different sounds, and I got to see how they moved back and forth. It was so strange to know that that was MY body I was seeing on the screen!

Apparently my vocal cords are slightly bowed and don't touch completely when they're at rest, which may account for the strain I'm feeling, but there are no nodules/bumps. I'm relieved to find out I haven't damaged my voice (I was beginning to wonder). Hopefully this voice training will help make a difference.


Brad said...

That is so cool. I can't believe you got to see your own vocal cords.

That reminds me of an article in one of the student papers at UBC when I was a student (it might have been the Gage residence paper) in which someone wrote an article about their colonoscopy, complete with pictures. It was as lovely as it sounds.

Hillary said...

Ew! Now that's icky!

I had the thought after the appointment that it was too bad I didn't take my camera with me! I could have shared my vocal cords with the world!

um, or maybe not.

Anji said...

I used to sing a lot when I taught English to French children. It's awful when the voice won't work like it used to.I'm pleased there is no real damage.