Meloney Collins performs daily at Disneyland in the Five & Dime jazz musical. Every Saturday night she sings with her band, Bourbon Street, at Disneyland Club 33. A busy schedule like that leaves little time to rest.
It also leaves little time to visit a doctor. When Meloney first began experiencing stiffness and a decrease in range and flexibility in her voice, she knew something wasn’t right, but with her busy schedule, she didn’t have time to take a day off and get it checked out.
The problems only grew worse. “Five months had gone by, and I knew I had a significant decrease,” said Meloney. “Something was not right, and I had enough technique to know that it was getting worse — not better.”
Frustrated that she couldn’t perform at 100 percent, but also fearful about what was causing the deficiencies in her voice, Meloney finally scheduled an appointment with an ENT in Beverly Hills.
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Unfortunately, the exam was difficult and he was unable to get a full view of Meloney’s throat, so he referred her to Lindsay Reder, MD, assistant professor and otolaryngologist at the USC Caruso Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at Keck Medicine of USC.
“I really like Dr. Reder’s manner, and I loved how easy it was for her to complete the procedure; it took half the time,” Meloney said. “I’d never had that before, in all of my years of going to the ENT. Dr. Reder threaded the camera through my mouth — not my nose, so it was much easier for me. And she didn’t get just one endoscopic image, but six, all of which were distinctly clear and detailed.”
A CLEAR DIAGNOSIS
The procedure revealed two vocal polyps on one side of Meloney’s vocal cords. She would need throat surgery and at least 10 weeks of recovery time.
Because of Meloney’s feeling of trust and ease with Dr. Reder’s, and the fact that Keck Medicine of USC accepts worker’s compensation, Meloney opted for surgery.
Several months later, after she had fulfilled her professional obligations, Meloney had surgery. Surprisingly, Dr. Reder discovered that she also suffered from a vocal hemorrhage on the other side of her throat; most likely caused by rubbing from the polyps she removed.
A SUCCESSFUL RECOVERY
Meloney was unable to talk for a week after surgery. With her polyps gone, she had to wait until her hemorrhage healed completely. Ten days post-surgery, she began working with Edie Hapner, PhD, an internationally recognized expert in the behavioral treatment of disorders of voice, resonance and upper airway in the USC Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at Keck Medicine of USC.
Dr. Hapner used voice therapy including voice and breathing exercises to help shorten Meloney’s recovery time and ensure she would regain full range in her voice. “She had me perform exercises and practice my breathing,” Meloney said. “She also had a lot of great tips for me to try.”
Within six weeks, Meloney could sing again. By 10 weeks, she was able to return to work fulltime. “I have my range back. I have volume control. I have nuance. I can sing softly or loudly — all of which I had lost when my voice was damaged,” she said. “I feel better and I’m so much smarter about how I deal with my voice now.”
A life full of song — that is just another example of The Keck Effect.
The voice specialists at the USC Voice Center are experts when it comes to all aspects of the voice.
If you are in the Los Angeles area and are looking for exceptional care from some of the top voice specialists in the world, schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting https://ent.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/.
By Heidi Tyline King