Weird title, I know. I mean, intubation in and of itself isn't especially traumatic, unless it's done in a trauma situation, which my last surgery was not by any means. It is just a necessity of having surgery.
So why bother writing about it?
Well, seems that something happened in my throat during the intubation (or extubation when they take out the breathing tube) from my surgery two months ago.
Since the surgery I've had three symptoms which haven't gone away:
1. a very disturbing "click" in my throat EVERY time I swallow. Food, drink, saliva... every time, all day and night, whatever I swallow passes over some bump, I feel the bumpy road, and it makes a clicking noise. A million times a day. Annoying as hell.
2. a cough, inconsistent, but present, also all day. It's not a "sick" kind of cough, it just exists.
3. Loss of upper range of my singing/talking voice. Any sort of animated vocal inflections sometimes come out as just air, no sound. Again, inconsistent, but frustrating.
This has been going on for two months, since my surgery. I kept waiting for it to get better on it's own, and it isn't. Yesterday I finally went to an ENT to check it out.
He was excellent. Did some tests, one of which was using a fiber optic tiny camera to see my vocal cords & airway. Not a lovely feeling, but not painful. He said that aside from a little swelling on one side of my esophagus, it looks completely normal. He was looking for a ridge of cartilage out of place. He presumed he'd see that after hearing my symptoms. He had a few patients in his practice over the years who had that after an intubation. But he didn't see the signs he thought he'd see to diagnose it. (sounds like all the illnesses I've had- they mask themselves as nothing until they keep getting worse and become a big, nasty 'something').
He felt the click with his own hand on my throat. He heard it with a stethoscope on my throat (the sound is *much* more amplified for me because it is happening in my head). But yet he didn't see it with the fiber optic camera. He was puzzled.
He called a speech therapist who specializes in throat trauma. He called while I was there in his office, which I thought was very conscientious and caring of him. The speech therapist said he'd see me, and we made an appointment for Jan 3rd.
He wrote a referral for a few more tests. One is a swallow test, where you swallow things from thick to liquid in a slow succession and analyze each type of action. The other is some sort of imaging using radiation, but I forgot the name of it.
We talked for some time, the appointment was about an hour... *extremely* unusual for a doctor who isn't a psychiatrist, right? He told me about a guy who works in a hospital in Rechovot, about an hour away from me. This guy was trained by the Guru of Gurus in Boston. Well, it turns out that I actually was treated by that Guru of Gurus when I was having singing issues when I lived in Boston! Going back about 25 years, I was having problems of my upper vocal register getting airy and cut off while I was singing (I used to sing in a Jewish choir called "the Zamir Chorale of Boston"). This otolaryngologist I was referred to did a full work-up of my singing, and diagnosed polyps on my vocal cords. He offered to operate to remove them, but I never went through with the surgery. My horn playing was at the forefront of my career, and I couldn't take off time for a fairly trivial problem.
Well that budding vocal diagnostician became the most famous otolaryngologist on the planet over the next 20 years (his name is Dr. Steven Zeitels). So the guy in Rechovot is one of his most talented protegees. Interesting, right? My ENT tried to call him, also, while I was in his office, but that doctor didn't answer.
After the appointment I went home. As soon as I walked in the door, my cell phone rang. It was the ENT! I was quite surprised. He wanted to tell me that he was able to talk to the guy in Rechovot after I left. He explained the situation to him, and didn't have good news for me. That doctor said he has seen two patients over his career (-two-) with the exact same problem. It is extremely unusual, and it never went away. Never. went. away. My ENT said it may be one of those things that I'll have to get used to, like when someone has a ringing in their ear constantly has to get used to it. That did *not* make me happy in the slightest. Already my life is such that I have been forced to get used to pains and strange nerve events in my leg. These things come about, and I have learned to keep a straight face and incorporate it into the regular way I am. But this swallowing thing, it's *really* distracting. Everything I swallow trips over a bump on it's way down. And along with that pronounced feeling comes a sound, amplified in my head. May never go away? Good God, that is a depressing thought.
It's another Sarah Klein anomaly. One more thing to add to the strange and atypical medical occurrences in my life.
I'll do the recommended tests, and see that speech therapist in a few weeks and see where it leads me. My ENT (who I saw yesterday) said that it's not *definitely* irreparable, but I have to know that's a possibility.
In short... don't have surgery. Strange (sometimes awful) things happen, and if you can put up with the issue without operating on it, better to do that. Take my word for it. Weigh out your options carefully... shit happens. Take my word for it.
(I'll be off-line for a few days, going for a two day visit with my lovely sister-in-law in Modi'in, not bringing the laptop. My phone- with internet- is never too far from my reach, though. :)