Patient Testimonials : Sherri Croyle

Sherri Croyle

My last post op visit to see Dr. Rosow, M.D., I told he and his team, “I have to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You gave me my life back. You gave me a voice again!” I looked around at Dr. Rosow and his Voice Program team and realized each one of them played an instrumental part in giving me a voice again. I told them, “I thought, I would never be able to speak again and I am both shocked and amazed by the tremendous gift you gave me! You all walked with me through the whole process!” I was quite an emotional. I told Dr. Rosow and the team, “I was convinced I would never be able to have a voice again. You have no idea how much gratitude I feel”.

Dr. Rosow’s skillful surgery, followed by the speech pathology department’s patience and knowledge; including Julie D. Gerhard, Marc ???_______, and their staff taught me how to properly speak. I have a voice!! I really really have a voice.

My patient experience at UM was wonderful. I didn’t feel like I was just a number. I was treated with respect and kindness. The environment was friendly, joyful and professional. It is apparent the medical staff is genuinely engaged with their patients. I have been to medical facilities where I was “just” a patient number and got very little eye contact during an entire appointment. At the Voice Disorder department, my appointment wasn’t over until the medical staff had answered any and all my questions or concerns.

It is never too late to learn something new. At the ripe age of 64, I have been taught the proper way to use my voice. My sound now comes from my breathe, instead of my throat. I had been speaking incorrectly my entire life. I now keep my mouth closed when there are race cars on the track.
In my thirties, I was an extremely successful exercise Ohio, teaching fitness to music in a high school gymnasium to classes of one hundred strong. We didn’t use microphones and I would bellow out instructions, encouragement and sing along with the artists at the top of my lungs. The more energy generated the better. Unfortunately, I was totally unaware of the damage and the fact I was seriously straining and abusing my vocal cords.

In the 1990’s, husband and I became involved in the sport of auto racing. We traveled up and down the east coast of the U.S. spending dozens of long weekend sojourns for over 20 years. I would return home literally without any voice. It would take two weeks to regain the ability to make discernible sounds. There would be a sound limit for the cars, but trying to talk over the roar of the high horse power engines for ten hours days certainly took a toll on my voice and vocal cords. I became involved in professional race team management and public relations. I was spending more weeks traveling around the country at auto race tracks and located in the pits. I was as close to the extreme engine noise as was physically possible. I was constantly trying to talk over the engine noise.

My husband was raised in a Mennonite family. Music is very much a part of their religious practice. Virtually everyone in the family has formal musical and vocal training. A church choir of ten sounds angelic and projects perfectly in tune and pitch. I would stand in the pew and only move my lips. I could no longer sing and I was totally embarrassed. A hymn of praise would be sung around the supper table and spontaneous singing would occur in front of the fireplace. Of course, I was unable to participate.

Not being very astute, I also used and abused my vocal cords with tobacco products and was a long time smoker. My voice became more deep, and at times totally absent. I used the telephone later in my profession and was often referred to as Mr. Croyle. I was constantly asked if I had laryngitis. Of course, physicians would counsel me to stop smoking but I failed to heed their advice. Finally, I was able to quite tobacco in the summer of 2014. It was not an easy process; however, I knew it had become imperative and medically necessary.

Additionally, I had lost a close family member to cancer of the esophagus. I constantly had the thought in my head I also had cancer and I certainly wanted to prolong getting the bad news. After all, I already had a plateful of medical issues. In 2009, I received a biopsy confirmed diagnosis of small fiber peripheral and autonomic neuropathy. The worst part is the effect on the organs of the body and their proper functioning. In simple auto racing terms, the spark plugs of my engine misfire, at will, and the parts of my race car become totally out of tune. As the driver of my race car, I have no control over the speed or direction of my bodies’ organs and limbs. After years of adjustments, I take a cocktail of medications to control the symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no cure.

Following years of hoarseness, whispering and struggle, Dr. Roderick Santa Maria in Boca Raton, Florida, referred me to two Otolaryngologist ENT surgeons in Palm Beach County. My laryngoscopies revealed “huge” vocal cord polyps and dysphonia. Unfortunately, neither was willing to perform the surgery because of the size of the polyps. I became depressed thinking I would never be able to speak normally again.

Dr. Santa Maria then referred me to Dr. David Rosow, M.D. at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine I fully expected to hear the same response. Instead, Dr. Rosow indicated he could remove the polyps and following voice therapy and training, I would be able produce sound and talk normally. Of course, I had to check out his impressive credentials and decided to move forward with the surgery.

Dr. Rosow performed my surgery on November 12th. Absolute vocal silence was required following the surgery for healing. I carried a white board and marker with me and anxiously waited till I could begin voice therapy. My next goal is to be able to sing again. I am confident with the assistance of the the UM Speech Department I will be able to carry a tune someday soon.

So I say again, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart!”

Sherri Croyle