Hoy Quan

How many doctors does it take to cure a sore throat? (2-year update)

Several years ago I experienced a “sore throat” that lasted for weeks. When I went to see my family physician (Dr. 1), he prescribed antibiotics. After several visits and multiple prescriptions with no relief, he referred me to an ear, nose and throat specialist. The ENT (Dr. 2) examined me and proclaimed that I had a granuloma the good news was that it was not cancerous but he needed to perform surgery to remove it.

I consented to the surgery upon his advice. It was performed and after about a month off for voice rest (no talking whatsoever) and healing, the sore throat went away. I resumed my normal activities but six months later, I experienced the same symptoms again. I returned back to Dr. 2 and upon examination, he concluded that he would need to cut again. Somehow this did not feel right, surgery every six month did not seem to be the proper way to treat my sore throat.

I felt it was time for a second opinion. I went to another ENT (Dr. 3) for a second opinion. She examined me and referred me to another ENT at USC (Dr. 4). At USC, I was examined by a team of doctors. The first one performed a series of test using a variety of equipment. A scope was placed down my throat and photographs along with audio recordings were made. After these tests, they concluded that I had a vocal cord granuloma and surgery was required to remove it. Dr. 4 explained to me that they will do a better job at removing all the bad tissue this time. Desperate to get some form of relief, I consented to surgery again. The surgery was performed and after one month of voice rest, the sore throat went away.

I was referred to another gastrointestinal specialist to perform an examination on my stomach to ensure that the sore throat was not caused by reflux. (Dr. 5) placed me under anesthesia to perform the examination but found nothing.

I went back to work and resumed my normal activities. About six or eight months later, the sore throat recurred again. I went back to Dr. 4 to get examined again and she conceded that vocal cord granulomas can recur. At this time I was getting extremely frustrated and did not look forward to a third surgery with no guarantees of successfully curing this problem. I decided that it time to find the best doctor I can. l wanted someone with experience in dealing with my problem.

After extensive research, I found UCLA which was ranked as one of the top ENT centers in the country. I would be examined by (Dr. 6) the head of the department. I felt that if he could not help me, nobody can. After being tested and examined by a team of doctors, they concluded that I had a vocal cord granuloma. I ask them if there was any cure for the problem because I did not want to go through a third surgery.

Dr. 6 suggested an injection of Botox. I had no idea what the stuff was. He said I would loose my voice for a short time but it should reduce or eliminate the vocal cord granuloma. It sounded like a good idea; an injection was a lot better than being cut up with a knife. I consented to the surgery and received my Botox injection. I notified my employer that I was receiving medical treatment and would be out for an undetermined period of time.

Two days after my Botox injection, I lost my voice just as Dr. 6 indicated. I didn’t mind it because it was better than forced voice rest after surgery. A couple of weeks passed and my voice was still gone. A month passed and I still did not have a voice. The only sound I could make was a very low whisper. Six weeks passed and my voice was still gone. Two months passed, no voice and the vocal cord granuloma was still present. Something was wrong.

Dr. 6 examined me and said that the Botox was taking effect but I needed another injection. I did not really want to continue without a voice but it still seemed better than surgery. I consented to the second injection and the voice went to nothing.

During this period other things happened. I exhausted my sick time at work and was “forced” to go on disability. My employer also decided to lay me off. I was now faced with no voice, a vocal cord granuloma that did not go away, a greatly reduced paycheck under disability, limited if any chance for interviewing with any other company, no unemployment benefits (because I was out on disability).

I knew I had to fight back but I had no voice due to the Botox injection. I tried to go back to work and even filed a EEOC discrimination complaint against my employer. The company nurse sent me to be examined by a company designated physician (Dr. 7). He examined me and found that I was fit to work but would not permit me to talk for more than 5-10 minutes per hour.

After spending thousand of dollars on medical expenses, countless doctors, a few attorneys, I was in a hopeless situation. I had no voice, I was going to lose my job, and I could not seek “normal” employment. I went from a very productive career to disability.

I have always been a fighter and I was not going to let this problem ruin my family, career and life. I purchased a variety of devices to help me with my disability: TDD/teletype keyboard, voice amplification telephone, a portable voice amplifier, a voice synthesizing portable computer and anything else that I could use to help me continue a normal productive life.

The devices helped but they did not cure the problem. Life with a disability is not pleasant and people do not treat you the same as a normal person. You do not know how tough it is until you lived it.

I came to the realization that assistive devices were not the answer to my problem. There had to be a cure somewhere or at least there had to be an explanation of what really caused my problem. Surgery and Botox was not the answer.

After performing extensive research on the Internet, I cam across a website by Dr. Morton Cooper. There were several articles that described my voice problem including my treatments with Botox. I was also lucky enough to live in the same town as Dr. Cooper so I immediately called him on the telephone. He listened to me despite my low raspy whisper. I made an appointment to see him that Saturday.

When I arrived in his office, he asked me some questions about my condition and medical history. During this interview process, he made a continuous recording of my voice (or lack of it). After about {an hour or so, he ask me if I wanted my voice back. Of course!, I said. Then he asked me to hum. I hummed. He pressed a finger against my chest and ask me to say one. ONE! my voice came back. I was astounded.

I am still in awe about what happened that Saturday afternoon. I was without a voice for months and in a matter of seconds Dr. Cooper was able to restore my voice. After additional sessions, I learned what really happened and how to use my voice in a manner that would prevent me from suffering from a vocal cord granuloma again. I was extremely skeptical about his methods and it is still difficult for me to accept what happened. I spent years with some of the best ENTs in the world with no relief or cure, yet Dr. Cooper was able to diagnose my problem immediately.

It has been almost two years since I been treated by Dr. Cooper. My vocal cord granuloma has not recurred. My voice is excellent. I have not experienced the sore throat condition since. I am able to speak comfortably for hours. Dr Cooper is truly a miracle worker. His techniques work and I am living proof of it.

Should anyone have any questions regarding what I went through our would like some help in dealing with the disability issues involved losing your voice or not having a voice, please feel free to contact me.