Friday, December 9, 2016

Ankyloglossia - Day 11

Dear Readers,

Thank you so very kindly for the overwhelming support. While those might seem like trite words, the sentiment is logarithmically earnest and true. It's important to know that in vulnerable moments there is a supportive community. As many of you know, I shared the previous blog entry about my lingual frenotomy (frenectomy) on facebook.  I received the largest number of views (638 as of the writing of this post) in the three years that I have been keeping this blog, as a result of sharing that blog entry.

As an opera singer, it does take courage to disclose one's vocal health. One of the main reasons to share my experience is for other singers with the same lingual impediment. It was very difficult to find information about adult frenotomy (aka adult frenectomy, or adult tongue-tie, or adult ankyloglossia). Furthermore, it was supremely difficult to find information about singers who have had the condition and the procedure.

I couldn't find any evidence of problems, mistakes, or botched surgeries. I also could not find conciliatory words of advice, or of specific success stories. Some singers and technicians have posted about the procedure as a tool for mobility in rolling the "r," which is heard and utilized nearly all of lyric diction, and in the most common languages of the operatic canon.

Some words for those who are interesting in getting the surgery:
  • The procedure was quick, simple, painless. It took approximately 8 min.
  • Local anesthesia injected into the tongue.
  • The doctor used scissors to "un-tie" the frenulum.
  • I bled lightly for several hours, with light spotting for two days after. I used gauze under my tongue to collect the blood.
  • I do 3 tongue stretches all day.
  • I took pain killers for 9 days.
  • The pain was often server, but never incapacitating.
  • I could eat and speak immediately following the surgery, and in the days following.
  • Obvious speech impediments were never exaggerated and they resolved themselves over the course of 4 days. As the pain subsided so did the small lisp and slur.

I was shocked to see how much tongue was actually IN my mouth. The mass and volume

Thank you for reading, and thank you for the support.

More updates as they seem relevant.

Below are photos from the last two days:

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ankyloglossia - Day 5

Dear Readers,

I have been severely tongue tied.... since birth.

Ankyloglossia - "A condition that restricts the tongue's range of motion," also known as tongue-tie,  "is a congenital oral anomaly that may decrease mobility of the tongue tip and is caused by an unusually short, thick lingual frenulum, a membrane connecting the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth." 

On Monday, November 30th, at 4 pm I had a procedure to "un-tie" my tongue. It was a liberation! The glamorous and stead-handed Dr. Linda Dahl performed the "untying."

In April of this year Dr. Dahl diagnosed me with ankyloglossia. For my close friends this came at no surprise. I have spent years sharing the struggles of having a severe under-bite and a short tongue. Personal anecdote: for those of you who were present in the summer of 2014 at Opera Theatre Pittsburgh's master class with Marianne Cornetti I even publicly announce how short and fat my tongue really was.

There is an axiom, supposedly Persian in origin, that says "Whatever is in the heart will come up to the tongue." If we accept this premise, then maybe we can - by a rule of logic - also accept that as the tongue is freed, it will be free to express what is in the heart.

After discussing the procedure with other singers, teachers, and months of research I came to the conclusion that I should have it done. The surgery might, as an ancillary benefit, proved great freedom at the base of my tongue and in vocal production. The primary benefit is in the mobility of my tongue to articulate consonants and vowels clearly and easily. Language, and by extension singing, can be logically reduced to the function of three interrelated mechanisms: breath, phonation, articulation. Assuming that I do my rehabilitative stretched to prevent the frenulum from re-growing then I should have added if not maximum mobility of my articulators (tongue, teeth, lips and mandible - though I do still have my malocclusion a.k.a under-bite).

For the weak stomached readers I suggest you not look away.
Below please see before and after photos:


Immediately After:

3 days after surgery:

I haven't sung yet since the surgery.
Once the majority of the pain has subsided and I am off the pain killers I will start slowly working my voice back, because I've been dormant for 10 days.

Thanks for reading,
All the best