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Vocal Cord Dysfunction

Remember when I was hospitalized in February?  I had a breathing issue and stayed the night so they could make sure I could breathe normally before I left.  On my way home, one of the doctors I had seen in the hospital had a new idea about what happened - vocal cord dysfunction.  It's when your vocal cords spasm, which sort of gives you the feeling that your airway is blocked and has a similar wheezing sound to asthma but it is coming from your throat.  I saw ENT and everyone else to rule out another cause and nothing.  It didn't happen again so I kind of forgot about it.

Well,  as I was walking the long and cold walk from the parking lot to work last week, it happened again.  My worst nightmare came true about this new parking lot - I was about halfway between my car and work, and had no one to help me.  I decided to keep walking towards work and finally got up to my department and by then things were much worse.  I could barely breathe and they called a code on me.  If you have ever worked in a hospital/doctor's office setting, you know that a code blue is not a good thing.  (I actually didn't need them to call a code, by that point everything was under control.) They finally wheeled me up to internal medicine because the pediatricians I work with weren't the ones that would be solving this - and they had patients to see.

I saw a wonderful doctor and he reminded me of this vocal cord issue I had in February - obviously I was too worried about trying to keep breathing to remember that.  It seemed similar, I had no voice when I woke up (like the time before), and it was almost an hour later when the breathing difficulty started.

This condition is very common in female athletes, who are often misdiagnosed with asthma, which is why the inhalers they are given don't always work.

I will see the ENT that I saw in March on Friday, and will have to have speech therapy to learn techniques to relax my vocal cords when it happens so I won't have as much trouble breathing.  It was very scary, but I am relieved it wasn't a bigger deal.

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