So I've tolerated this embarrassing wheeze for the last 4 years. I'm sure you've heard it. A few years ago I got diagnosed with Vocal Cord Dysfunction which means I have tight vocal cords. Six sessions of Vocal Therapy will cure it as well as altering behaviors that can exacerbate it -- talking too much at once (Who, me?), talking too high or too low ("Yea! I'm so excited for you!!" or "That's just not okay!"), not drinking enough water, talking too loud or too soft etc.
I had two sessions and then never went back. November 2007--busy time of year, kids were in chaos while I was gone and the economy was tanking and the sessions were expensive. I would try again when my kids were older.
So finally this year with Nick in school, I tried again. But this time she noticed an irregularity below my vocal cords. So Thursday I met with an ENT (Yes, Mom, the best in Utah) and he said I've got subglottic stenosis which is a narrowing of the larynx just below my vocal cords. I'll have it dilated (stretched with a balloon-type procedure) in April and again in May. It's an outpatient procedure and apparently you can resume normal eating, drinking, exercise right away.
He said, "let's get you breathing" and I wanted to cry with joy! I feel so out-of-shape when a run up the stairs gets me out of breath or I can't go walking with friends because I sound ridiculous with all my huffing and puffing.
I'm hopeful! Unfortunately it's something that has a high rate of re-occurance and they're not sure what causes it. I might have to go in every couple of years. But mine is a mild case--about 30% narrowed so I'm hoping it won't recur too often.
Some people end up with a trach and I said jokingly to the doctor, "Well I sure don't want that!" And he didn't get my joking voice and said dead seriously, "You do if it's the only way you can breathe." So, here's the part where I want to say something funny about how my grandma could take out her teeth and my mom can take off her hair and maybe I'll be able to take out my voice! but it doesn't really sound all that funny.
I've done lots of internet research and here's the best link of a study of a woman that sounds just like me. It also explains the science behind not getting enough air with exertion as related to Bernoulli's principle with coincidentally I just taught to Christopher's Webeloes troop a few months ago! (Dyspnea just means anything related to shortness of breath).