The journey of finding out what exactly I had on my vocal cords has been an eight-year process! That seems crazy long, but it's true. When I first started to notice shifts in my voice, I was in my third Broadway show. I couldn't have been happier with the material I was singing. BUT, I didn't fully know the glory of knowledge that came with my voice. This is true for many performers and artists. How many of you out there really know every tool, trick, and height of your craft? BE HONEST! As a dancer, until I felt soreness for the first time I wasn't thinking about icing. Even though my teachers talked about it. Why would I? Only when I felt something and felt the limitation that came with it did I begin to do what I needed to do in order NOT to feel that and prevent injury as much as I could.
As a vocalist, I did everything my teachers told me. Throw into the equation a little youthful arrogance, and I found myself feeling "off." So, I went to the doctor. At the time, I was told I had some swelling on my cords. No big! I can do some steaming and I'll be fine. It wasn't until I was working on an off-Broadway show that I LOST my voice. And I had to perform. There were no understudies or swings. AAAAAHHHHH! I asked everyone for advice and I took it all. But I couldn't help but to feel like a douche for losing my voice. Through the grace of God, I made it through my final shows. I went back to the ENT. I was told I had more swelling. I was kind of confused. How could swelling make me lose my voice? If my leg is swollen, I can still move. WTF! I was put on steroids and told to go on vocal rest for a week. I doubled up on my voice lessons with my incredible teacher. I began to see some incredible results from this. I know now, this was only a Band-Aid. A very good one, but a Band-Aid nevertheless.
Many years later. Moving across country twice. A national tour (not in the most supportive and comfortable of environments one could be in). I found my way back to the doctor. Now I was told I had cysts and I needed surgery. *Insert freak out!*
I sent the video my then-ENT took of my cords to my dear friend Amanda Flynn (Amanda Flynn is an NYC voice coach who has her masters in music in vocal performance with a musical theatre concentration, as well as an advanced certificate in vocal pedagogy, both from NYU. Basically, she nerds out about the voice and makes everyone around her better for her it!) She told me "Girl! I got you." We talked and she told me about the outstanding Dr. Lucian Sulica. The moment I sat in the chair to be scoped, he said I was a classic case of pseudo-cysts. He wanted me to do a minimum of five voice therapy sessions (Shout Out to Dr. Chandler Thompson who is my homie Fa Life) — which should be a requirement for ALL ACTORS AND SINGERS — while still doing lessons with Amanda. So wait... All I need to do is work hard... and then I may not need surgery... DONE!
I busted my ass working with Dr. Chandler and Amanda. One week I would see crazy improvements. The next week I could barely speak. Not to mention, the usual drama that comes with being an actor, I was on a roller coaster of depression and insecurities (more on depression and insecurities later). I just knew I brought on all these problems because I suck. I had no technique. I was not worthy enough to be a performing artist. Thankfully, my best friends helped me get above water again. They got me back into sessions with my ladies, Dr. Chandler and Amanda. I told them what I was feeling and they told me I was not alone and all these feelings are common. My response to that... Yeah right. Surrrrreeee! But it was true. Amanda invited me to join a group of singers who have had surgery and are now on the other side. Dr. Chandler gave me advice and input that I plan on using long after this journey. It all led me back to Dr. Sulica for a follow up. He would be the final word as to whether I should get surgery or nah.
Dr. Sulica saw me again. After all my lessons and sessions with my ladies. After all the notes taken, the input given, and the videos of vocal cords... I was the perfect candidate for surgery. When the word came down, I cried so hard I got sick. I got so sick I had to postpone my surgery by two weeks. I was scared. I wanted my instrument to work again. The uncertainty of the future was too much for me to handle. I knew however, this was best and necessary. I knew I would not be able to accomplish what I was dreaming of doing without pressing a reset button.
So, on March 9, with my wife and four-legged son by my side, I will boldly walk toward the surgery room with one of the best doctors and surgeons in the country. I'm confidently putting my career and everything I stand for in his hands. This eight-year exploration has led me here. It's time to be healthy.... It's time to be Fully Healthy Again.
1, 2 and here we go...