Monday, June 25, 2012
LET ME CLEAR MY THROAT - VOCAL CHORD SURGERY
May 30, 2012 4:30am. Woke up, got dressed quickly - the Quiet One was driving me to the hospital for vocal chord surgery. Dr. Ivey would remove a polyp from the right side of my vocal chords. This little polyp has created big problems for me, my singing, my livelihood, AND my finances...so it had to go. We were almost at Columbia Presbyterian when I realized...Holy crap, I forgot my insurance card. We were already 20 minutes into the 30 minute drive. I waited for the Quiet One to reprimand me, to say, 'Really, Judy? Come on...' But I really should call the Quite One - the Patient One - the Noble One. His response to me was, "Do you really need to go back?" I nod yes. "Okay, let's go back." He wasn't upset in the least. The Quiet One dropped me off. He couldn't stay because he had just begun his new job and was required to work. I was happy for him with his new job, sad for me because he is my rock for everything. "Goodbye sweetheart, you're going to be fine! Finally you can put this behind you...I love you & I'll see you later." At the hospital, I filled out all the paperwork. I said a huge prayer. No, I prayed probably four times. And I even posted things on facebook via my cell phone just to keep myself occupied. I began to feel slightly nervous. When my name was called, I walked right in. I was given the prestigious hospital gown, and the nurse asked all the necessary questions. And then they put in an IV (intravenous line through the veins). I HATE them, they hurt, period. The anesthesiologist introduced herself to me, and asked if there was anything else she needed to know. "Yes, absolutely...please make sure I don't feel a thing...please bring me back to conscsiousness and know that in the past anesthesia makes me VERY nauseous. Whew. Now I feel it. Yep, there are the butterflies. Now I'm nervous. Dr. Ivey, my surgeon & laryngologist, came over to see how I was feeling. She has been an AMAZING doctor from day one! She not only has given me fantastic treatment, but she's also been honest & is the only doctor I've ever had who gave me her email address and cell number...she's awesome! "Judy, I just want you to know that in order to do the surgery, we will be putting a breathing tube in your throat, so you may be very sore afterward, but you'll be fine." I understood...that idea was a little scary, but the vocal chords move when you breathe, so I would assume they had to paralyze that so they could work. 7:15am "Judy, they're ready for you." The nurse gave me the option of being wheeled in to the operating room, or to walk. I chose to walk. It made me feel healthy; made me feel empowered, made me feel strong & independent. Hey, whatever it took to feel comfortable before the surgery. The room was BRIGHT!...almost as if I was walking into the light. The room was also slightly cold and all the equipment was incredibly high tech. The surgery was set for 7:30am, so I knew it would be any minute now. The anesthesiologist said, "Okay, Judy, I'm going to give you a sedative to relax you...and then shortly after that, I will put in the medicine so you can sleep..." I looked around and saw about 4 people in the room. Dr. Ivey was in her operating apparel, and she asked, "Anything you want to say before we start? Any questions?" I looked at these strangers whom I was trusting with my life...I had this sensation that this problem was finally being corrected & I suddenly felt terrified AND grateful. So I said the two words that mattered the most, "Thank you!" And I noticed Dr. Ivey was holding my hand and smiling. Wow. What doctor does that? Her holding my hand helped so much. So I breathed in deeply and with absolute trust, I closed my eyes.... Time? What time is it? I woke up with an expected sore throat. I was in a recovery room. It was quiet. Anesthesia is incredible!! It rids your body of a sense of time, place & feeling. I don't recall if I woke up on my own, or if someone woke me...but I have a feeling it was the latter. I didn't mind the sore throat at all - I expected that, but it was the nausea. I HATE being nauseous. I'd rather be in pain than be nauseous. A nurse approached me, she took my vitals and asked how I was feeling. Since I was not allowed to speak, thanks to my iPhone, I texted my sentences into the Notes app, and this would be my form of communication for almost a week. When she read my response, she got the doctor who immediately gave me anti-nausea meds. Thank God. I felt tire, but not as bad as I thought I'd feel. Another nurse came over and once she heard someone tell her my name, she immediately recognized me. She didn't tell me, but I could tell by her body language: the eyes suddenly gush open & there's an excitement in their arms, lol. She was as kind as could be. And she read my lips pretty well. She was kind enough to call my friend, Brenda, who was scheduled to pick me up. She wheeled me downstairs and told me it was a pleasure to "talk" to me. And I was in Brenda's car & on my way home. 11:00am... Brenda wanted to walk me upstairs. "No, I'm fine, Chica." (Chica, to me, is what I call my closest friends). I turned the key, and was thankful the bathroom is so close to the entrance. And I ran to the sink & threw up. Darn. I hate hate hate hate hate throwing up! I took off my clothes & changed into my favorite t-shirt & sweats, and took a nap. When I woke up, I heated up soup...and then I learned quickly, that I really couldn't chew a damned thing. Oh, no...I couldn't tell what it was. When I walked over to the bathroom again. In the mirror I made a discovery: I stuck out my tongue and was horrified to see it point to the right!!! It was so swollen & puffy, but it curved so badly to the right. Dr. Ivey didn't mention that!!! So, as I ate the soup, i could chew, but I couldn't swallow...ugh, sucks! And what was even worse than that was the fact that for the next two weeks - everything I ate tasted sour! The first few chews of any food tasted genuine...and just before I would swallow, it would taste SO bitter, so acrid. When I emailed the doctor, she said, sometimes the tongue is compressed so much, the nerves atrophy and lots of things happen - change of taste can be one of the side effects. Well perhaps this side effect will be effective in being some kind of weight loss aid. Now is the hard part - the recovery - the silence for a week - the feeling of isolation from socializing...but it's done. Thank you, God, I'm alive. The polyp was removed - And one week later, this is what I saw: Vocal chords slightly swollen but NO POLYP! First photo is before. You can see the red bump that's made my life miserable. The photo underneath is one week after surgery! Hooray!