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Progress Report April 28 (with Audio)

Posted by Rob H on April 28, 2012

Over the past few days, I have experienced many new things. On Monday April 23, I had my first Botox shot.

Tuesday and Wednesday (after the shot), my voice returned to a raspy version of its former self. It was very usable and the results from the Botox were encouraging.

Thursday through today (Saturday), my voice has regressed a bit. The actual quality of my voice is better than it was Tuesday and Wednesday. My voice is not raspy any more, but it’s much weaker than it was Tuesday and Wednesday. I have a more normal-sounding voice now, however I cannot project it at all.

Here is a voice sample I took of myself from late Thursday evening. I went over to a friend’s house to watch the NFL Draft and recorded this sample on my way home:

Audio MP3

As I mention in the recording, I probably sound pretty good and I know compared to my pre-Botox voice samples, this is a huge improvement. I’m very happy that I have not experienced any of the muscle spasms which were crippling my ability to speak before the Botox. What you can’t hear from the voice sample is the strength of my voice, since I had the microphone up near my mouth and it probably sounds pretty normal. But throughout the past 3 days, I have found it impossible to speak louder than just a very weak tone. Also, my voice is a higher pitch tone than my normal voice, and I attribute it to this voice weakness.

Ironically, the way my voice responds is almost the exact opposite from before the Botox injection.

Before Botox:

  • I could not speak in my regular voice
  • I could speak in a higher or lower tone than my normal voice
  • I could sing
  • I could yell
  • I could do “impressions” or “sound effects”

After Botox:

  • I can speak in my regular voice (albeit weaker and slightly higher-pitched)
  • I can not speak in a higher or lower tone
  • I can not sing – unless it’s a song that has limited note range
  • I can not yell
  • I can not do “impressions” or “sound effects” unless they fall within my limited vocal range

So you can see I’ve basically flip-flopped from my voice before the Botox. I expect to get back some of these parts of my voice, once the side-effect period wears off.

I did find out that I had a pretty large dosage for my Botox shots…apparently Cleveland Clinic is aggressive in their treatment, and the fact that I got a full dosage of Botox in EACH side of my throat is more of an aggressive approach. Some people only get the shot on one side, or they get a full dose on one side and a partial dose on the other side. This is done to minimize the side effects…although it also limits the length of time the Botox provides a “good voice”. I am experiencing the side effects pretty much in full force. If you can imagine not having use of your throat muscles, then trying to cough, clear your throat, sneeze, or burp, that’s what I’m experiencing right now. You use those muscles all the time and right now, I don’t have use of them so it’s been an adjustment getting used to it.

The side effects are greater with a greater dosage of Botox…however the “good voice” period lasts longer. My doctor told me the typical person they treat has a one week side effect/ramp up period, 4-5 months of “good voice”, then another week or so of the Botox wearing off. I’m still in the ramp-up period and the side effects I’m experiencing now are much more of what I was expecting going into the injection appointment. It’s a bit of a bummer that I had Tuesday and Wednesday, where my voice was much more powerful but raspy…I thought I might have gotten off easy on the side effects but that wasn’t the case. I say it’s a bummer because I had a couple good days and I was talking a lot, but the last 3 days I’ve had to scale it back a little because my voice is weaker.

I do believe that the side effect period is going to wear off soon and I’m hoping at that point, I will have both a normal AND a powerful voice which lasts 4-5 months. For now, my higher pitched voice makes me sound a little different and it has brought a little humor into my life… my wife laughed at me the other day, while I was talking to her she smiled and said it was funny listening to me because she was staring right at me and a different voice was coming out of my mouth (different from my “normal” voice).

Day 3 post-Botox update

Posted by Rob H on April 26, 2012

Side effects

Over the past 2 days I have started experiencing the typical side effects associated with the Botox shot. Those side effects are typically said to be:

  • While drinking liquids, sometimes the liquid “leaks” into your windpipe causing coughing. This is typically avoided by tucking your chin into your neck while swallowing.
  • While eating, crumbs can get into the windpipe causing the same coughing. Really all you can do on this is chew your food better so there’s no crumbs.

I have experienced both of these but not excessively (probably only once for each of them). My recurring side effects are a bit different than these. Since my muscles are basically disabled in that area, I’ve found that the actual act of coughing is different. My throat muscles are not able to produce a cough in the same way I’m used to. So I’m re-learning how to cough (at least until the initial side effects wear off).

This is going to sound funny but I also have had a little difficulty belching. (hey, I’m a guy)…again the throat muscles are neutralized so the act of belching is more difficult now than it was before the Botox. Not a huge deal but it’s something I didn’t expect.

Lastly, most of the coughing I’ve experienced is from my own saliva (not from drinking liquids). Since I have a cold, my sinuses are draining and I have to swallow more than usual. This, more than anything, is my most irritating side effect. I think it will go away or at least diminish as I get over this cold.

Interesting “Buzz”

I have made an interesting observation. As readers of this blog have read before, my plan is to continue trying to re-train my voice through the voice techniques I learned through my speech therapy sessions. To be more specific, my therapist wanted me to keep my voice more forward in my face instead of speaking from my throat. They call it my “mask” – which is the area from my mouth to my nose, in the front of my face. The most efficient, optimal way of speaking is to breathe from my diaphragm, pushing the air up through my vocal cords and having the sound actually produce in this MASK area, rather than my throat area. This is how singers are trained to sing and is regarded as the best way to produce a sound.

My therapy sessions had me focus on creating a buzz feeling in my mask area. It’s easiest to get this buzzing feeling by making the “mmmmmmm” sound, moving the sound production forward in your mouth until you can literally feel a buzz/tickle sensation in your mask area.

Before the Botox, I never had a problem producing this buzz in my mask, with the “mmmmmmm” sound. The problem was, once I started talking, I couldn’t keep the buzz there. My voice origination point went back into my throat.

Now that I’ve had the Botox shot, I tried the buzzing again and I was able to keep the buzz in my mask area. This was an unexpected development and one I’ve not read elsewhere in the hundreds of hours of research I’ve done on the internet. I don’t know if this is a permanent thing or if it’s just a coincidence, but I’m going to keep monitoring it. I can only sustain it as long as I concentrate on sustaining it…once I get sidetracked, my voice goes back to my normal “throat” speaking mode.

My actual voice is still pretty much unchanged from my last voice sample. It’s still a bit weak but spasm-free. I’ll have more updates in the days to come.

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