My Mickey Mouse Voice: Coping with Vocal Cord Paralysis

Patient Expert

In my recent SharePost called Shock and Anxiety I wrote about my reaction to learning that my left vocal cord is paralyzed. I was grieving over the destruction of my voice, so much that I hadn't really absorbed what the doctor was most worried about: that a tumor might be pressing on the laryngeal nerve and causing the paralysis.

When I went back for the follow-up visit, she breezed into the exam room with a HUGE smile or her face. "No tumors" she crowed. "No tumors ANYWHERE!" The CT scans of my neck and chest were entirely clear.

Now things became easier - and much more positive. We set up an appointment for me to have a procedure, an injection of material into the paralyzed vocal fold that will enlarge it enough that the working cord on the other side will be able to touch it. That should improve my voice and my ability to swallow and cough correctly. My doctor says this is a temporary fix that lasts generally from 3-5 months, and she chose this treatment because it's still possible the paralysis will clear up on its own.

WHAT a relief! The procedure is the day after tomorrow (Monday, July 2nd).

This has given my spirits quite a lift, as you can imagine. At the same time, though, I've learned that I'm still not physically recovered from the previous hospitalization. And that's a valuable thing to know, because in spite of ALL I know about bipolar depression, I have at times fallen into the trap of feeling guilty about being so fatigued. Now, at least, I know that my fatigue is not due to depression.

Feeling guilty about being depressed is a symptom of depression. It's unreasonable and horribly counterproductive. I know this. I've been studying and writing about bipolar disorder for more than 14 years. And yet I still can fall into these traps.

We who have mood disorders have to learn things over and over. The lessons learned in one depressive episode may not be remembered in the next one. Maybe I need to keep a list of the lessons?

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to having at least a closer-to-normal voice again.