Monday, May 01, 2006

Why I Can't Sing

I believe I mentioned a while back that I lost my singing voice after having my thyroid removed in 1961. Sometimes I thought perhaps I was just looking for something to blame, but I did totally lose my voice for months at the time and I have never been able to hit the notes right since that time. Singing was an important part of my life then – I sang to my babies. I had been in choral groups in high school. My children and grandchildren have carried on the tradition.

Today was the day of the diagnosis. I have been losing my voice for a few years, and it has been getting worse as time goes on. People have noticed that I am hoarse most of the time. Family members have mentioned it when I am on the phone. Last year I had a very difficult time reading my stories to patients at a nursing home. They couldn’t hear me, and I was unable to increase the volume. My writing “professor” told me that I obviously have a problem with my voice. I was beginning to be concerned, and the difficulty was annoying.

My heart doctor made an appointment for me to see an ear, nose, throat doctor. When I first mentioned my symptoms to the ENT doctor, he gave maybe three reasons that I would be having problems. As soon as he checked the back of my throat, he told me that my vocal chords are paralyzed on the right side and have probably been that way since my surgery in ’61. He stated that the left side would have compensated for the paralysis back then by stretching toward the right side, but as I have aged I have lost the elasticity and I am losing my voice.

One of the possibilities to cure this is surgery, but he said that he wouldn’t want to do it because I am on Coumadin, etc. I said “I don’t want you to do it, either. That is the least of my problems, so I’ll just deal with it!”

When I return from my trip east, I am to call him and he will make arrangements for me to go to Martinez for therapy. He told me the therapy would be difficult, but it should help me quite a bit. We’ll see. Therapy and I don’t do too well (knees, back). I am not very conscientious when it comes to that. I would never have made out well working out in a gym.

Sometimes when I think about the fact that I have been unable to sing for 45 years, I get upset. It makes me even more upset to realize that I was right all along about the surgery – that something had gone wrong and “someone” slipped. The doctor was telling me about a very famous opera singer many long years ago who lost her voice after thyroid surgery.


  • At 4:17 PM, September 29, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Rita. I'm so sorry to hear about the effects of your thyroid surgery. My aunt had thyroid surgery in the 50's and I remember her with a very hoarse voice because of it. I don't think it was uncommon. How awful that you had such a surgery at an early age.

    I suspect that physical therapy on your vocal chords will be much different (easier) than going to the gym.

    I look forward to hearing how it helps.

    In the meantime, I'm enjoy the photos of your gardens. We have very different ecosystems, but clearly share an addiction to plants!



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