Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Scary Doctor Report

I have survived my fourth throat scope/stroboscopy in as many months. Yea and hooray!

Happily, my relaxing medicine kicked in and thoroughly did its job; in fact, by the time we left the hospital I was so extremely and exceedingly mellow that I fell asleep almost as soon as we left the parking lot.

I'm still feeling a bit spacey; thankfully though, my hubby and daughter made dinner for me. When I woke up from my second nap after getting home, everything was on the table and ready to go! How nice is that?

Steve and I were both so impressed with the people at Chapel Hill-UNC Medical Center. We were there two hours and only about 10 minutes of that was spent waiting. Usually, I'm at appointments for two hours and only 10 minutes of that time is spent being seen by someone. What a nice reversal.

I started out by spending almost an hour with a speech pathologist who had me do all sorts of unusual things with my voice; she also recorded me and listened to me and asked me all sorts of questions.

And then it was time to be ushered into the Scary Doctor's examing room. Before he came in, however, another doctor made an appearance and asked a few more questions and did a head/neck exam. She earned by undying approval and admiration when she told Steve and me about all the times she has allowed med students to do a throat scope on her to practice. She said, "Yeah, I've had a lot of students who have no idea what they're doing stick this thing up my nose. Lots of fun!" I was in awe that anyone would be brave enough for that and immediately wanted to give her some sort of award.

And then at long last, the Scary Doctor showed up. I liked him as soon as I saw him; he was friendly, personable, cheery and extremely knowledgeable. He asked a few more questions, had someone spray the lovely stuff up my nose and within three minutes (they must have the super-fast numbing spray), he had the long camera/strobe light tube efficiently inserted into my nostril and down my throat.

I was aware of feeling very calm and non-panicky which certainly helped the proceedings quite a bit. And it's a good thing I was feeling calm because this particular doctor was not content to let me just sit there in silence like my local doctor was. For three or four minutes, I had to say words, hum, do la-la-la's and lots of other fun vocal exercises. I don't know if you've ever tried to sing with a camera stuffed up your nose but it is really quite the adventure.

Finally we got to the to the wonderful point in the day where he pulled the big long thingie out and said, "That's it!" I always have this overwhelming urge to hug my doctors when they do that because it is such an incredibly fantastic feeling.

And the results?

Even though he is an outstanding surgeon, he is one of those doctors who looks at surgery as a very last resort. He said the test definitely showed some problems though, mainly that my vocal chords are not closing completely, for reasons he doesn't understand. Also, the vocal cords on either side are not moving in a symetrical fashion. He did see the lesion on the vocal cord that the other ENT had seen but he said that fortunately it was not in a place that would cause problems. However, he said if it ever started to bleed (which is certainly a possibility) then he would need to be notified immediately and would probably do surgery at that point.

But for now he said that the vocal fatigue, hoarseness and loss of the notes from the top of my range are being caused by the two problems mentioned above. The solution? Extensive vocal therapy. He is fairly confident that undergoing the therapy (by a woman on his staff who has a doctorate in vocal performance) will go a long way toward helping to improve my voice.

Of course, he understands that we're dealing with the added complexity of COPD and since singing and speaking require plenty of air, having COPD will probably keep me from making a full recovery.

He also said that many times the medication taken for COPD does damage to vocal cords that cannot be reversed. However, he said that if the medication is making a difference in my lung function than I should continue with it because there's no sense in having good vocal cords if I don't have any air to push through them.

All in all, it's kind of a convoluted, complex situation but the good news is that surgery is not necessary at the moment and he does think that I can get some help with therapy.

For now, I'm just going to take my tired brain and weary body to bed and not think about all of this anymore until tomorrow. I don't know why these visits are so stressful for me but when I get home, I feel a lot like a wet noodle. And this wet noodle is off to bed.

Good night, all! Thanks so much for your prayers and support.

8 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Sue G said...

Well done, my good and faithful friend. You showed up. You tolerated. You vocalized. You comprehended. You slept.

And the news? Well, knowing that there is help through the vocal coach and that surgery is NOT imminent is a very good thing. Very good indeed.

Did he mention the medicinal properties in malted milk balls? If not, he should have. So I prescribe that you take two and call me in the morning.

Pam D said...

No panic, no trauma, no ejection of stomach contents on some unsuspecting person. I'd call it the trifecta of high points in a scary doctor office visit. And no surgery? Definitely a good thing to hear. Perhaps they could work out a "two for the price of one plus a dollar" deal with the vocal/speech therapist and you and Sarah could do it together. In the meantime, get some rest, eat some chocolate, and blog. I think you've earned it, sweet friend!

Lyndsay said...

YAY! You didn't throw up on the scary doctor!
I guess you and Sarah will have to practice your therapies together!

Kristin said...

I am glad to hear that the Scary Doctor visit went well and that there was no vomit involved. So now you should relax, sleep and eat some well-deserved chocolate. I am not sure but I think that the caloric contents of chocolate are removed if it is consumed after an appointment with the Scary Doctor and therefore does not have any negative affects on the hips. I am glad to hear that surgery is not needed at this time. Maybe you and Sarah can have speech therapy sessions at home together.

I also had an interesting experience with the Scary Doctor at one time. I had gone in after I had some mysterious swelling at the base of my neck. After tests for thyroid levels came back normal my doctor sent me to the "Scary Doctor" although I didn't think of him that way until after I read your blog. The "Scary Doctor" told me that he didn't see anything significant going on but, as he was about to leave he decided that he wanted to take a look at my vocal cords. So, he proceeded to take an elongated mirror out of an ice bath and stick that down my unsuspecting throat (no numbing spray). He kept telling me to say "e" and I could barely get out any sounds so when I did say something it sounded like "a". He then said that he couldn't see anything wrong and that if I have any more problems to come back for a more involved exam. (Ya Right like THAT will happen). Well there is my first and hopefully last "Scary Doctor" experience.

Glad to hear everything went well and you are much more brave than I. I would NEVER let them stick anything up my nose and down my throat even with happy medicine and numbing spray. Have a great night!

Anonymous said...

I am so happy your appt. with the scary Dr. is over. You are braver than me lady! I just panic with the thought of something going up my nose and down my throat.
The great news is you don't have to have surgery, just some therapy.
The thingy you said about the hallway, my husband and I are in the hallway right now also, and here in MI the hallway is looking pretty darn long. It's quite depressing, but I continue to give him hope.
Thanks for your encouragement,

Anonymous said...

Praising God that the doctor's visit is over...

And that you somewhat have a diagnosis (sp?)...also praying no more damage occurs and that therapy helps you....because....
You have a beautiful voice...


Lisa L said...

Becky, ******Hugs a plenty****** you are one brave woman. You will be ok...thank god.

Pam said...

So glad to hear that you made it through the test. It always made me a yucky thinking that the camera enter my throat had just went through the nose! I have found that even though you still have the problem, knowing the answer as to what it is, or having a name put to it makes you feel some better. Hang in there.