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Jun 12, 2018

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Episode 11 features Tatum, an up and coming vocal artist and musical theater star from the Chicago suburbs.  Tatum has stared in over 2 dozen performances in her life and was at risk of losing it all when she developed nodules on her vocal cords during High School.  Listen to this episode to hear how she overcame this obstacle and if we are lucky we will be seeing her on the big screen in a few short years!




Episode 11 - Nodes on Vocal Cords (1).wav


Ron [00:00:16] Hello and welcome to PodcastDX  the show that brings you interviews with people just like you whose lives were forever changed by a medical diagnosis.


Lita [00:00:26] I'm Lita.


Ron [00:00:27] And I'm Ron.


Jean [00:00:28] And I'm Jean Marie.


Jean [00:00:29] Collectively we are THE BORG.


Lita [00:00:33] laughing, I'm sorry, what?


Jean [00:00:33]  According to Wikipedia the Borg is a fictional alien group that appears as reoccurring antagonist in the Star Trek franchise. THE BORG are a vast collection of drones or cybernetic organisms linked to a have mind called The Collective.


Lita [00:00:49] Okay Jean collectively We're the hosts of podcast D X.


Jean [00:00:55] Okay sure. Right right right. That's what I said.


Ron [00:00:58] Anyways on today's show we're interviewing Tatum.


Lita [00:01:01] That's right. Tatum is an up and coming vocal artist and musical theater star from the Chicago suburbs. She is currently studying musical theater at Ball State.


Ron [00:01:12] Go Cardinals.


Lita [00:01:13] Welcome to the show Tatum.


Tatum [00:01:14] Thank you for having me.


Lita [00:01:16] Tatum is an amazing singer. She's been in countless local musical productions. Thank you for coming in today. Tatum you must be exhausted.


Tatum [00:01:24] I'm always ready for anything.


Jean [00:01:27] Did I hear that you just had a reunion show last night at the Elmhurst high school.


Tatum [00:01:31] Yes I did. It was called The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.


Jean [00:01:36] Oh that's a good one. Yeah.


Tatum [00:01:37] Yeah.


Lita [00:01:39] So you didn't even get to take a break when it's your summer off from school.


Tatum [00:01:42] Oh no there's always a show somewhere. (laughter)


Ron [00:01:46] All right let's get going here. Tatum I'm sure the listeners at home are wondering by now what today's topic will be. After all we have a healthy happy college student. However we know that not all illnesses are blatantly obvious. You can't really tell if someone's healthy just by looking at them. Is that what we're dealing with today.


Lita [00:02:07] In a way you're right. Tatum has or I should say had, a condition that could have sidelined her singing career.


Tatum [00:02:16] Yes I developed nodules on my vocal folds that made it almost impossible to talk let alone project my singing voice out across a packed theater.


Lita [00:02:24] Now I've heard of vocal cords before. Are they the same as vocal folds.


Tatum [00:02:30] Yes. According to John Hopkins the vocal cords also called the vocal folds are two bands of smooth muscle tissue found in the larynx which is also the voice box the larynx itself is in the neck at the top of the trachea which is also commonly known as the windpipe. When your vocal cords vibrate and air passes through the cords from the lungs that's what produces sound. The sound is then sent out through the throat nose and mouth giving the sound resonance on the sound of your individual voice is determined by the size and shape of your vocal cords your throat your nose and your mouth.


Ron [00:03:05] TATUM How did you know that something was wrong. Did your throat hurt.


Tatum [00:03:10] Yeah it did but it felt different. Then just like a sore throat from a cold or something like that I was noticing that my vocal endurance was very low I would lose my voice after like an hour of talking in like a loud group like out at a loud restaurant or something like that. Also during rehearsals for shows that I was in I noticed that I couldn't make it through a full rehearsal without feeling like I needed to go home and not talk.


Lita [00:03:37] Oh well.


Tatum [00:03:37] Yeah.


Lita [00:03:38] Did you try any home remedies before you went to the doctor.


Tatum [00:03:41] Yeah I did. Just like normal things you would do to try and get your voice back because at the time I didn't know that I had vocal nodule. So you know I would go home and drink a lot of water and have lozenges and just rest my voice for a while just like anyone else would do. But it was it was more than that.


Jean [00:03:58] Sure. Sure How does one actually get nodules on their vocal cords. How did they form.


Tatum [00:04:03] Well according to the Merck Manual acute trauma or chronic irritation causes changes in the vocal cords that can lead to polyps and nodules and granulomas all three conditions cause hoarseness and almost a breathy voice and diagnosis is based on a laryngoscopy.


Jean [00:04:21] Oh.


Lita [00:04:21] A laryngoscopy, what is a laryngoscopy?


Tatum [00:04:28] A laryngoscopy which also just could be called getting scoped.


Lita [00:04:31] Oh scoped.


Tatum [00:04:31] Yeah, It's basically they stick a really tiny camera down your throat or when I got it it would go up my nose and then down the throat.


Jean [00:04:42] nooo.


Lita [00:04:42] laughter.


Tatum [00:04:42] It's really uncomfortable but yeah it goes in and you can see on a screen your vocal folds. It's pretty cool actually actually again. So they do something called a strobe test which is basically just like really rapid pictures and you can see it like it almost like slow motion your vocal cords vibrating.


Jean [00:05:02] Oh. wow


Tatum [00:05:02] Because it's going so fast.


Jean [00:05:05] mmhmm.


Ron [00:05:05] interesting.


Tatum [00:05:05] So that was really helpful for me when I went in and first got my diagnosis. I could see the bumps.


Lita [00:05:11] So they let you watch this.


Tatum [00:05:12] Yeah. Yeah.


Jean [00:05:13] Oh see you were awake ohh.


Lita [00:05:14] Laughter


Tatum [00:05:14] I mean you're watching it. Well this thing is like down your throat.


Jean [00:05:18] So that's amazing.


Lita [00:05:20] oh wow.


Ron [00:05:20] If you got to see it How did they treat the nodules then?


Tatum [00:05:23] Judicious surgical removal restores the voice and removal of the irritating source prevents recurrence. So when I got it it was basically a laser that cut them off of my vocal folds in my particular case that irritation came from previous acid reflux problems.


Lita [00:05:41] ohhhh.



Tatum [00:05:42] And just improper overuse of my voice like over practicing and yelling and.


Ron [00:05:47] So they were using a laser.


Tatum [00:05:49] Yes.


Jean [00:05:49] And were you awake for this.


Tatum [00:05:50] No I was not awake for that.


 Jean:  OK.


Ron [00:05:52] And if the laser would have slipped. Would that have impacted your voice.


Tatum [00:05:59] well Yes.


Jean [00:05:59] I always wonder if, if the doctor sneezes or something.


Lita [00:06:03] oh my.


Jean [00:06:03] During the procedure. Any. Yes. Any procedure. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.


Tatum [00:06:07] laughter.


Lita [00:06:07] That's it. I think that's why they don't want to robotics.


Jean [00:06:10] It could be. Well again just thinking about all this makes my throat hurt.


Tatum [00:06:13] But they used to do it with like scissors.


Lita [00:06:16] Oh.


Tatum [00:06:17] Like way way back in the day which was just way less accurate since the lasers just like it was like a 45 minute surgery. Yeah.


Jean [00:06:25] Wow could you talk afterwards.


Tatum [00:06:27] No not right afterwards.


Lita [00:06:28] Were you nervous about having the surgery.


Tatum [00:06:31] I was mostly because like I mean it was my voice like I'm majoring in musical theater. This is my instrument. And my surgeon he's like one of the most acclaimed vocal surgeons in the world. So


Lita: OK I obviously trusted him. But you know I mean anyone's nervous going into surgery.


Jean [00:06:50] I think I heard you were in good company maybe like Barbra Streisand may have seen your doctor.


Tatum [00:06:56] Yeah yeah. she did.


Lita [00:06:57] oh wow. All right. And what was the recovery from your surgery like. Did anything speed along your recovery.


Tatum [00:07:04] I don't know if anything necessarily sped it up besides just being on vocal rest because immediately after I was completely silent for a week.


Jean [00:07:14] Oh wow.


Tatum [00:07:15] I didn't know anything yeah.


Lita [00:07:16] Oh God.


Tatum [00:07:17] So that was just I mean that was the protocol they gave me.


Lita [00:07:19] How do you, I know that you are the type, that walks around your house singing singing everywhere.


Tatum [00:07:26] (Laughing) Yeah.


Lita [00:07:26] How did you do that.


Tatum [00:07:27] It was hard. I watched a lot of movies.


Ron [00:07:31] Oh oh that's incredible.


Jean [00:07:34] What my mom really though wants to know is if you had to eat a ton of ice cream Were you forced to do it. Was it prescribed.


Tatum [00:07:42] It was not prescribed but it didn't hurt. (Laughing)


Lita [00:07:47] Nothing. It never hurts. Would you say.


Jean [00:07:50] It hurts the waistline.


Lita [00:07:50] Yes. Would you say that now you're back to normal or have you noticed any deficits or maybe even improvements in your voice.


Tatum [00:07:58] I wouldn't say I'm back to normal I'd say I'm better than I ever have been.


Lita [00:08:03] OK.


Jean [00:08:05] Awesome.


Tatum [00:08:05] Definitely. Well I had it done right before going to college so I definitely seen improvements like working with the voice teacher at school and everything. I think my vocal ability I can I can do a lot more than I was even able to before I got this surgery.


Jean [00:08:20] Has it  extended your range.


Tatum [00:08:21] Or a little bit yeah. But mostly just like the clarity of my voice it was less breathy raspy and just endurance wise like I could make it through a show and not feel like I had to sit down and not talk to anyone for like a day after.


Jean [00:08:37] Oh OK. That's awesome.


Tatum [00:08:38] Yeah.


Ron [00:08:38] All right. I hate to be the one who had to ask this question but is it possible that additional nodules can come back in the future.


Tatum [00:08:47] Yes. Actually if you get surgery to remove vocal nodules you actually have a higher percent chance of developing them again just because you have scar tissue and everything. But it's not a super high percentage especially if I've been going through speech therapy and everything. So if you learn how to properly take care of it then you should be fine to be healthy in the future.


Lita [00:09:11] Is there anything that you and our listeners can do to keep their vocal folds and larynx healthy.


Tatum [00:09:19] Yes. The larynx and the vocal cords need moisture. So it's so important to drink plenty of water. I mean I carried around a half gallon jug. So I mean the typical recommendation is to drink six to eight glasses of water a day. But, I’d say some days I have more than that some days less. You know some days you forget. But and whenever possible to avoid alcohol and extremely spicy foods and smoking. In addition using a humidifier to maintain about 30 percent humidity in the room is also very helpful.


Jean [00:09:52] OK and have they treated you for your acid reflux.


Tatum [00:09:54] No that was just something I had it more when I was younger.


Jean:  OK. And they've think that kind of just set it up. These are not good. Yeah.


Lita [00:10:03] All right.


Jean [00:10:04] Yeah. Thank you. Tatum.


Tatum [00:10:05] Thank you for having me.


Lita [00:10:06] I am going to be watching for you on Broadway.


Tatum [00:10:10] (Laughter) I hope so.


Lita [00:10:10] Yes. And if our listeners have any questions or comments related to today's show they can contact us at podcast D X at yahoo dot com through our Web site podcast D X dot com, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.


Ron [00:10:28] And if you have a moment to spare please give us a five star review on the I- tunes podcast app.


Lita [00:10:33] And just as a sideline. Could you just sing a couple of notes.


Tatum [00:10:40] laughter All right. OK. Let's see I can sing. Give My Regards to Broadway.


Lita [00:10:48] That's wonderful. clapping  Right.


Tatum [00:10:50] Thank you.


Lita [00:10:51] Have a great day. And until next time we're out.