Don't Click Here . . . Well, Unless You Want To!
I got my stitches out this afternoon. The final pathology report came in, and it's now officially not cancer. I didn't think it would be cancer, but it's still nice to have the confirmation.
The doctor stimulated the recurrent laryngeal nerve during the surgery, and said that it's definitely paralysis, not merely paresis (weakness). The nerve can spontaneously recover, and I asked how likely that is. He said he didn't really know the numbers but it would be about 30% likely or something similar — so, recovery is possible, but most don't recover. And the fact that it's paralyzed rather than paresed means it's less likely to spontaneously recover, but still, it's not out of the question. But it could take a year or longer.
So I'm approaching this with the expectation that it will never recover and I just need to accept it, come to terms with the vocal issues, and get on with trying to improve my situation. I'm not abandoning hope, but I also don't want to be all tied up in hoping it's going to recover and then end up spending the rest of my life disappointed every day if it doesn't. So instead I'm working to accept that my voice may never return. Then if my nerve does happen to spontaneously recover, that's great.
So, in trying to improve my situation, I'm going to pursue speech therapy. In a few weeks I'm having something called a modified barium swallow. I'll swallow some barium and they'll take X rays of my neck in various positions. This will help them determine the range of motion of my vocal cord and will help them develop a speech therapy program for me.
For the ghoulish among you, I took a couple of pictures of my scar. It's at the base of my neck, about 2½"–3" long. It looks much better without the stitches, but it's still not exactly pretty. The bruising has turned to that really lovely shade of yellow, except for an odd little purple line above the incision.
Feel free to not click on these links: here and here.