The last year although very successful, behind the scenes has been a challenging roller coaster ride. As a professional performer you always find a way to ensure a great show without showing any issues that might be affecting you, but over the last year this has sometimes been hard to do, and in my case ended up with vocal surgery.
Lead up to surgery.
After more than 6 months struggling with vocal fatigue and issues, last year I decided to do something about it. I went to see a specialist ENT and found I required surgery. I was told I could try work around my issue, but it would be a problem that would degrade over time. It would restrict my performing more and more, especially as I aged. Initially I went and got some vocal coaching to see if I could work around my problem with better technique. It made a hell of a difference, but at the end of the day I was still struggling to sing the material I wanted the way I wanted. I never felt like I could put in 100%. The next step of course was vocal surgery. I scheduled it in for early January 2018 and vocally limped through the very busy remainder of the year by careful technique, coaching sessions, and smart song choices.
The Vocal Surgery.
So January 5th was Vocal Surgery day with the awesome Matthew Broadhurst, and it has been another roller coaster ride since!
So the actual main issue that required surgery was fibrovascular mass (scar tissue) on both vocal folds, and inability to get full glottal closure (vocal folds did not close evenly). This had caused me to have a problem with my high chest voice, low head voice and vocal endurance and recovery. The surgical procedures were Suspension Microlaryngoscopy, Subepi rescection and KTP laser.
I’ll skip the details of initial recovery and do a separate detailed blog on this soon!
Full recovery should have been by late Feb, and by this time I had slowly eased back into full time gigging again. The surgery was a success and certain parts of my voice such as my super high head voice were better than ever, but I was still having issues with endurance and using healthy technique to control my new voice. I had 2 major issues, acid reflux and bad technique. I also tried too much too soon which magnified the issues. The ENT said if I didn’t get these issues under control I would re damage my vocal folds most likely within a year!
I have always had reflux problems, but it seemed since the surgery they had magnified majorly. Maybe my body reacted to having been under anesthetic, or just the resting without gigging or something, who knows? It is an issue I’m now finally getting under control.
As for technique, well I’ve always had a strained style. I’m guessing a lot of it was to force sound through my scarred folds LOL, but it was now haunting me. My new voice was now the same, but somehow different. I constantly found myself involuntarily clenching to force my voice to do what I wanted. What I should have been doing was relaxing, using proper technique and trusting in my natural voice. This is another thing I’m now finally getting under control. Unfortunately the last 2 weeks I’ve been set back a little. A bout of flu hit right when gigs have been really busy, so it’s been like a step backward. The flu is clearing and now I’m really feeling confident that I can finally start progressing and letting my voice shine!
Followup and going forward.
I saw my ENT yesterday, and given I’ve been flat out with gigs and singing till almost no voice due to the flu, the prognosis is actually really good. I am now finally looking to put this behind me. I’ll be forging ahead with even more gigs, and actually getting back to being able to rehearse, record, and learn more new material. Of course more than anything, I’m looking forward to bringing back my capability for massive rock vocals!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my rant about my vocal issues. If you are someone with vocal issues I really urge you to do 2 things ASAP. Get some coaching, and see a good ENT who specialises in working with professional singers.
My next blog will be outlining my experience with the first 6 weeks recovering after my vocal surgery!