A Year Since Diagnosis of Vocal Fold Paralysis

Sometimes you look back on the passing of a year and think, “Wow, that went by fast!” But the year since the medical diagnosis of bi-lateral vocal fold paralysis and subsequent therapeutic work has felt very, very long to me.

If you’d like to read about the journey so far, medical diagnosis and what I decided to do, please read the posts listed HERE.

I’d like to reiterate that any progress that I’ve experienced (which the medical community would tell you was not possible,) is due to the extraordinary expertise of Singing Voice Specialist Jeanette Lovetri and Healer/Therapist Dr. Robert Sykes. My own personal tenacity, courage and willingness to persevere was a pre-requisite. And my husband reminds me frequently that some of the world’s greatest athletic coaches either have never played the game or are not currently playing their sport, which lets me know he gets it, and that means a great deal to me.

The work of reestablishing neurological connection from brain to vocal folds is pain-staking and certainly doesn’t include any music-making. The mental focus of coordinating muscles and function is exhausting. Also, there is the “cha-cha” effect of two steps forward improvement, only to have one step back.

After my last session with Jeannie, via Skype, she wrote this post on her blog at The Somatic Voice Work tm: The Lovetri Method Teachers’ Association–Coaching An Injured Pro Back to Singing.

There has been tremendous improvement but this is relative.”Tremendous Improvement” actually means that I’ve been able to reestablish chest voice and head voice registration, which means I can phonate on pitch again with some tone and accurate pitch, as opposed to a strangled hiss. But it takes 25-30 minutes to find this registration via specific vocal exercises and mind/body visualizations. I started out needing an hour to find it, and had to rest frequently.

In addition to working Somatic VoiceWork tm: The Lovetri Method, we are doing some of the exercises put forth by Silverman Technique for Parkinson’s Disease, practiced by qualified speech pathologists. We also occasionally use the work of Stemple when the voice is able to respond. Unfortunately, I am not at the point where these therapy exercises can always be used.

Right now there is very limited ability to “Sing,” as in,’string sounds together in a musical manner.’ Singing five tones together on one vowel is still very difficult. Every once in a while, a full sung note of great beauty and strength will escape and make me hop up and down with tremendous excitement.

And also every once in awhile I sing two or three phrases together that actually feel better than anything I was able to sing from 2006-2013.

Students have noticed the vocal improvement, but it is still bittersweet. They do not know me as a singer or as a performer.

But after the past 13 months of voice therapy and counseling, I felt it was time to move forward with my work as a teacher of singing and musician. So I have put my mind to “How could I best be open to Inspiration and be inspiring to others while finally letting go of my identification as a working professional singer?”

This came at the same time when I also had to reform my image of what it meant to be a parent, and let go of my children into the world.

The only thing that is predictable in this world is Change. And when it calls you, answer with all your mind and heart.

The result has been that I have learned things that have enabled me to be an extraordinary singing teacher, voice trainer and even, healer.

Life is funny.