Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I Love My Voice… You have been diagnosed with a voice disorder. Should you consider vocal surgery?

When somebody suddenly experiences difficulties with their speaking or singing voice, they usually get really concerned, but are still hoping that the problem will go away by itself. Weeks, and sometimes months, will pass and the voice problem not only hasn’t gone away, but has actually become worse.

This person ends up trying to push their voice harder and harder to make it work the way it used to, not realizing that it is doing more harm than it’s worth.

Eventually, after they seem to have tried everything, they end up getting a referral to an ENT specialist, hoping that the specialist will shed light on their problem and offer them a quick and “magical” fix. 

And yes, after the diagnosis, especially with polyps, nodes, nodules, or cysts, the ENT specialist usually offers a quick laser or scalpel operation to remove the growth on their vocal cords or their throats.

That operation seemed to also be offered to Joan Rivers, who evidently had some problems with her vocal cords, as she was sounding more raspy and hoarse in recent years. She was obviously concerned with her speaking voice, as her livelihood was depending on it, and rightfully so.

One might ask, should she have considered a non-surgical way of fixing her voice problem first, especially given her age and the numerous other surgeries she had been through? 

The answer is most probably yes, but that would require the time, energy, and money; although in her case, the latter probably would not matter.

Like many people today, she was living her life at a fast pace and probably did not want to allocate the time to thoroughly investigate what could have been done with regards to fixing her voice in a less invasive manner. 

Surgery of any sort carries a risk and could cost you your life. Here in Canada, I was friends with Bella Kovarsky, the first Ballet teacher of one of the greatest dancers of all time, Mikhail Baryshnikov. She was the founder of the Bayview School of Ballet, here in Toronto.

In the year 2000, Bella Kovarsky died suddenly during what was supposed to be a very mundane and simple procedure (a type of appendix removal). Her death was not only sad but completely unexpected. Nobody could have predicted such a tragic end for this wonderful and talented individual who dedicated all of her life to ballet and great choreography.

Both Bella and Joan’s surgeries were thought to be simple procedures, and yet both of these very talented people did not survive this simple invasion. Any surgical invasion, even those in outpatient facilities (like the one where Joan Rivers’s surgery took place) can be dangerous and could easily end your life. 

So, in my opinion, especially concerning vocal problems (since it is in my field of expertise), I would try everything non-surgically first and then, if there is no way to fix the voice naturally and holistically, turn to a surgical procedure.

To conclude: 

If you love your voice and yourself for that matter, please do not hesitate to spend the time to research the best alternative care and try absolutely everything possible to conquer your problem naturally, scalpel-less, and laser-less for that matter.  

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