I’ve always had terrible heartburn. It hardly ever FEELS like heartburn, but I would have bizarre complaints that seemed unrelated to anything–stitches in my sternum, months-long dry cough, laryngitis–look it up and sure enough, rare manifestations of heartburn. Until now I’ve been willing to suffer through it, drinking a lot of water and popping chalk chews. But when I started feeling a squeezing in my throat and the entire top half of my singing range dropped off, I got concerned.
Looks like I have GERD–gastroesophogael reflux disease.
My first thought was that I’d busted my vocal folds singing too high in Sweeney. But a little more research into vocal injuries and I discovered that the feeling–along with the other symptoms I’ve had off and on since age 3–are signs of GERD.
So I went to the doctor on Monday, because although I can suffer through chest pain and reflux, I’m not willing to ruin my voice. My doctor is kinda a McDreamy, so it wasn’t too wretched. I listed off my symptoms and after a cursory exam, said I was probably right and gave me three weeks’ worth of drugs. Evidently, if I feel better after taking them the diagnosis is confirmed. Because of the chest pain though, the nurse gave me an EKG. Thank God I wore cute underwear that day (the set Jessie got me for my shower!)
Because I’ve had reflux so long and my diet is healthy, it’s likely that there’s a deflect in the little flap at the bottom of your esophogus that’s supposed to keep all that crap down in your stomach. In some people, it just doesn’t close all the way. Barring invasive surgery, the only thing I can do is take a pill every morning for the rest of my life.
I told him I was concerned about damage. After all, if I really have had this problem since childhood, that’s like gallons of acid juice washing over my vocal cords. So he refered me to an ENT. I called up and it turns out the doc he recommended doesn’t really look at throats (uhhhh…). So I am seeing somebody who’s specialty is “the professional voice.” I don’t know what to expect; I really want my voice to be ok but I don’t exactly relish the thought of having to swallow a camera–I have a sensitive gag reflex. My appointment is Monday morning, so I guess we’ll see how it goes. Meanwhile, I’m on the fourth day of the meds and the pain when I sing is gone, but now it feels like I have a thick lump in my throat and pudding surging around behind my sternum.
I just realized most of this post contains information that wouldn’t even interest my mother. But the bottom line is, there is a medical explanation for why my voice has been hurting!