Wednesday, June 26, 2019

You got Diagnosed with Sulcus Vocalis… Now What?

The first question you have to ask yourself is:
How did you end up with such a nasty diagnosis?

You may ask yourself: What have I been doing wrong with respect to my speaking or my singing voice for that matter?

Analyzing the above while looking for the answer, you may remember that you had a bad cold or virus… At that time, your voice got quite compromised and it became raspy and hoarse. You, meanwhile, were trying to clear your throat quite hard and pushed and pulled your voice (also quite hard) to make it clearer and louder…

By doing all of those things, you no doubt strained your vocal cords, and are now have been experiencing the consequences of such actions. In the end, you ended up with pain in your throat, with an even more raspy and hoarse voice and, in some cases, perhaps with breathing difficulties. By the way, the latter may bring you to the next undesirable diagnosis - you may acquire asthma-like symptoms… God forbid.

To get to all of the above, you perhaps used your voice/vocal technique incorrectly to begin with. Moreover, when you got that bad cold and/or laryngitis (as a result of the latter), yet again trying to bring your speaking and/or singing voice up to par, you had pushed and pulled your voice above its limits - and it resulted in strained vocal cords - to the point of them not coming back together in synchronicity; and thus, not properly closing… That (what’s in the medical terminology) is called Sulcus Vocalis.

Now let’s examine what’s available for treatment (and possibly cure) in the medical field:

The doctors have been offering their patients to surgically instil some kind of an artificial device on the vocal cord(s). Some of the patients were offered such procedures like injecting their own fat tissue (to be extracted from other parts of their body) and instill it on one of the compromised vocal cords - assuring the patient that it would help to treat and, even possibly cure, such disorders as Sulcus Vocalis. As our extensive experience shows - none of the above was ever even remotely effective.

To give you an example:

In the past, one of our US clients who agreed for both procedures - the fat which had been extracted from his stomach and placed on one of his vocal cords, and then (when the fat dissolved within two months) he was offered the artificial device to be placed on the same vocal cord.

Chris was an aspiring musician and singer who just got a record deal - (That was his life-long dream). During his recording (from his own words), “My voice just ‘popped’ ”. The young and very talented singer had his career in jeopardy. Therefore, he was ready to undergo any medical procedure to restore his voice and continue his music journey. Both his speaking and singing voice were quite compromised. The device which was instilled on his vocal cord had gotten it completely paralyzed… How sad is that? Within only 10 hours, when he came to us, I was able to practically fully restore his speaking voice.

However, his singing voice would require multiple hours; and even then, I would not be able to guarantee that Chris’s singing voice would be fully restored… Very unfortunate indeed! I am pretty sure though that if he came to me before undergoing those useless medical procedures, he would have more chances to have his singing voice restored as well. Needless to say, his vocal condition back then was, unfortunately, at the point of no return.

So, given the above, our recommendation to you, my reader, would be to try everything possible non-surgically before you give in to any medical/surgical interventions.

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Friday, June 21, 2019

Muscle tension Dysphonia… How can this Disorder Negatively Effect the Singing Voice?

Recently, we received a very talented (musically and otherwise) student who has been offered a major record deal in the United States.

Three years ago, this singer/songwriter/producer felt that he could no longer reach the high notes, which he could easily reach before.

He experienced vocal fatigue and thus could sustain any sound only for a short period of time. He acquired fear and emotional distress, knowing that his singing voice is not working in full capacity as before. He decided to withhold embarking onto the record deal; And rightfully so, as he felt that he could've lost his voice altogether if he continued singing (and speaking for that matter) in the same fashion.

Within our introductory/exploratory session, we explained to him that if he does not change the application of his speaking and singing voice, he may actually lose his voice to the point of no return.

What could be a bigger fear and frustration for a talented up-and-coming singer then to lose their “instrument” (the voice)? No doubt, it can be completely devastating for anybody, let alone for a person who could lose his singing career for good… Needless to say, our soon-to-be student will be attending our non-surgical voice (speaking and singing) repair course, nonetheless, coupled with natural herbal treatment.

So stay tuned and we will be glad to introduce you to his post-course letter which we have no doubt that it will reflect nothing but complete success!
“When you’re a singer and it’s your voice, it is just a terrible, terrible feeling,” she told the outlet. “It was a great, great loss, so I had to come to terms with losing the voice that I had and rediscovering my new one.” - Shania Twain.

To add, I would have to say that Shania's "new" voice is nowhere near sounds as good as before her ordeals... Frankly, it sounds like she still has Muscle Tension Dysphonia disorder, coupled with elements of Sulcus Vocalis (where the vocal cords are not always working in sync with each other - and thus, a gap between them becomes apparent).

Shania Twain, unfortunately, still sounds somewhat raspy and hoarse. Her voice, at times, disappears due to the gap between the vocal cords, and therefore it gets trapped in her neck and her lower throat. Yes, the surgeons (I'm sure, the best ones) were trying to fix her "instrument", but they did not address the "player".

In other words, the mechanical application of the proper use of the voice has not been addressed - which means that it is only a matter of time when the voice will seize again and, at that time, the damage of the vocal anatomy will, most likely, become irreversible and inoperable. God forbid that it will become the case. I personally would not wish it on any enemy...

The moral of the above is:

If, for example, the "car mechanics" are broken, don't put it to "rest" in the garage... It will not fix itself. Also, washing, polishing and waxing that car, will not make it drivable. Fix the mechanics first, then wash, polish and wax next. Also, if the driver does not care enough about his/her car (like not changing the oil on time, not ever doing a tune-up, not rotating the tires, etc.), this car will not last too long.

However, if all of the above is taking care of, but the driver is not actually aware that the gas pedal is on the right, as well as not knowing how to follow the GPS, and lastly, not driving on the correct side of the road, the accident would likely to happen...

Likewise, there are many components which could cause vocal injury. We will identify all of them in our next blog.

Please stay tuned.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Could Muscle Tension Dysphonia (MTD) Transform into Spasmodic Dysphonia (SD)?

Yes, it could!

We, my reader, would like to introduce you to at least two stories which we had come across.

In the year 2014, I got an e-mail from a person who said that she had been diagnosed with Muscle Tension Dysphonia.

In that e-mail, she said that her speaking voice was quite compromised and that she was seeking help in that regard. As usual, I responded and asked her to give me a call so that I could hear her voice - and would know what I would potentially be dealing with in order to help her to the best of my knowledge. She had never called; thus it was left up in the air…

In the year 2015, I got yet another e-mail from her, reminding me that we had already communicated (via e-mail) a year ago. In this e-mail, she was revealing that now, her Muscle Tension Dysphonia had turned into Spasmodic Dysphonia. She also warned me that her speaking voice got exponentially worse. I have an extremely good memory and I could recall right away who she was.

So right from my phone, I responded and told her that I was on the way home from work and that I would be home in an hour. I also wrote to her that, at this time, she would definitely have to call me - or, otherwise, I will not waste my time responding to yet another e-mail from her. Surely enough, I got a call from her and, I swear to God, I could not understand one word she was saying… After trying to bring this conversation to some reasonable state, I had given up and told her outright that, at this point, I would not be able to help her with anything. It was too far gone. It did turn into (by my definition) a stage-four SD (the last stage of this disorder, which is completely untreatable, let alone curable).

I felt for her because she was a fairly young woman in her mid-40s. At this stage, she was as good as a quadriplegic person in a wheelchair. It makes me wonder… if she actually called me a year before, when it was still Muscle Tension Dysphonia, I most likely would be able to attend to her and even, quite likely, bring her to a full recovery.

She did not…, so go figure!!

The recent similar story came to my attention just last week.

The person, who happened to be a teacher, had been suffering first from Muscle Tension Dysphonia as well. And now, three years later, according to her, her voice became much worse. Though to her credit, the next morning after I responded to her e-mail, she actually placed a call to me. Needless to say that she has now been diagnosed with Spasmodic Dysphonia.

With Muscle Tension Dysphonia, the voice gets hoarse and raspy, as the voice gets stuck in the neck muscles - which is also not easy to recover. My colloquial explanation to that would be as such:

- If the person “drowns in a bathtub”, it is much easier to recover that person and bring them back to life. But if the person had “drowned in the ocean and hit the bottom of it”, that makes it a completely different issue. It’s definitely much harder to recover that person and even harder to bring that person back to life…

If you remember, my reader, I categorized Spasmodic Dysphonia into four stages. So if that person “drowns in the ocean”, but did not “hit the absolute bottom of the ocean” ( compared to stage one or two of SD ) then it is definitely treatable ( from where I sit ) and, quite often, even curable.

SD often has a neurological nature, but not always. In both cases, the voice “drowns” in the lowest throat position and begins to spasm uncontrollably… Often, it is emotionally induced, whereas often the thyroid (in the manner of speaking) tightens and then practically incloses on the person - and needless to say, the person’s voice becomes significantly compromised.

Nevertheless, the thyroid (in holistic teaching) represents suppressed emotions.

Given all of the above, my approach to the aforementioned matters is completely holistic; and not only to the mechanics of the voice but to the person as a whole.

I always say that your voice is a reflection of the state of your being, and (most of the times) an identification of who you actually are - like your fingerprints or your DNA). So if the problem is just mechanical in both instances (MTD and SD), then it is definitely treatable and, most likely, curable. If there are more physical issues, coupled with the emotional state of being, then the matters become more complicated.

So my wishes to those people who had been affected by any-of-the-above voice disorders are to try to research and find the best course of action for the most effective treatment… and nonetheless, once found, act upon it immediately!