Voice doctor has Indiana pastor singing again

Published: .
Updated: .
A local pastor thought he was losing his voice, until a Carmel doctor stepped in and helped him find it again.

Pastor Charlie Thompson is the director of Timber Ridge Camp in Spencer. Everyday, he has an audience and, increasingly, when it was time to preach - or even speak in a quiet cabin - he realized he was losing his voice.

"I was in a crisis, because I honestly didn't think that I would be able to keep my job," Thompson said. "You know, a preacher with a broken voice is like a runner with a broken leg. You just can't do it."

"A lot of our patients, they have been living with this for years. They just didn't realize there was something they could do," said Dr. Stacey Halum at The Voice Clinic of Indiana.

Thompson says he saw five physicians before Halum threaded a probe through his nose to view his voice box.

"So there is what's called a distal chip camera. It's just a tiny little chip in there that allows us to pick up the image," Halum said.

The camera picked up a benign polyp on Thompson's left vocal chord.

Just one week after surgery to remove the polyp, he could sing again and went through voice therapy.

The polyp is gone, but some of the behaviors that helped it evolve needed to change. Thompson is learning better breathing techniques, how to control his range and to manage his allergies and hydrate.

Halum says the causes for polyps vary, from smoking to reflux to sinus infections, or even overuse.

"The big red flags are if it's hoarseness that lasts more than two weeks," she said. "The longer it goes on, the more difficult it can be to fix."

Thompson is grateful and believes the message he shares is too important to be silenced.

"People don't often realize how important the voice is until you lose it," Halum said.

She says losing your voice is the result of some other medical issue and the earlier the intervention, the better the outcome.