For years, I managed the situation, kinda sorta, more or less, with the botox injections into my vocal chords. But, I think we’re meant to do more that simply manage or function in this life. So, I finally looked into something that I knew had been looming on the horizon for a long time…Surgery.
It was out there hanging in the distance. For years. I knew something was available, but it seemed like a last resort. I had read and heard about a surgical procedure that actually had some success resolving the strangled, fragmented, interrupted speech that resulted from Spasmodic Dysphonia. However, there were many reasons I did not seriously consider it for a long time. Among other things, it sounded like a pretty major ordeal and – this was the kicker – my understanding was that if it wasn’t successful, not only would my voice not get fixed, but the botox injections would no longer work. That was a risk I was unwilling to take.
Although I was not happy about the incessant cycle of getting injected/losing my voice/getting a voice/getting spasms in my voice, it was far better than succumbing to the effects of Spasmodic Dysphonia unaided. Among other things, I didn’t know how I could do my job – or any other that I was interested in or qualified for – if that happened. I rather like eating, having a roof over my head and providing for my family, so I did not view surgery as an option due to the risk associated with it.
As years went by, I collected bits and pieces of info about a surgery called Selective Laryngeal Adductor Denervation-Rennervation (SLAD-R) that seemed to resolve some people’s problems. However, I was under the impression that it did not work for roughly 15% of patients. Furthermore, as I mentioned above, I understood ‘did not work’ to mean that a) it did not fix their spasms and b) botox no longer worked. Although 85 percent success was good, I was not willing to take a 15 percent risk that, essentially, I would not be able to talk again. (As I later learned, these concerns were unfounded.)
Anyhow, here’s the deal. I had basically accepted my situation. I was ‘managing’ Spasmodic Dysphonia with the botox injections and thought I was, more or less, making it through ok. Until I wasn’t.
What happened? Well, among other things…
I had a series of injections that did not go well.
I had a growing sense that I was simply accepting something that I should not.
Finally and most importantly, I had an amazing person – my fiancé – who encouraged me to look more closely into SLAD-R surgery…and to move from a situation that was ‘manageable’ or ‘ok’ to one that could actually be great (i.e. having my voice back). She had asked if there was anything more that could be done, and if I could somehow stop with the injections. I told her I was aware of the surgery, but didn’t like the downside risk. She asked if I had looked into it recently (I had not) and she planted some seeds. They finally sprouted about the time I had the series of injections that didn’t go well.
There was this convergence of things that came together and I came to the realization that I had basically gotten used to a situation that was “good enough”. I had, essentially, grown comfortable with it. Was it an optimal situation? No. But at least I knew what to expect.
The reality is that I was scared to make a change. I don’t say that with a disparaging sneer at myself, or anyone else that is scared. I say that embracing the fact that its ok to be scared. Fear can actually be a good thing, especially when it motivates us, but not so much when it paralyzes us. I had been paralyzed, but now I was motivated.
Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org