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  • Counting it as a Win

in college.  I’m a loud person… most of the time. When I get excited, I squeal.  When I laugh, I don’t hold anything back. When I sing, I like to sound like a soulful black girl… and I mean that will all the respect in the world.  Whitney, Mariah and Beyonce could be the only artists in my itunes library and I would never desire to listen to anything else… well Cece Winans can be added in there too… I gotta have some Jesus music in there somewhere!  I led groups in college and was the leader of the worship team for Intervarsity… I had 4 hour practices every week and then led worship the following night.  I never slept. Once I started this business, I would stay up until

midnight while my roommates were hanging out…..then they would go to bed (well almost all of them, love you bitty:) and I would work on my editing and run my business from 12am- 5am… and then wakeup at 10am. It was a crazy life…. an unhealthy life.  It was very common for me to lose my voice. I never knew when or why… but some weeks, my voice would just be GONE. Totally gone. I struggled with this some in high school, but I was a cheerleader so it made sense that I would cheer at a game in the cold and lose my voice.  When I was at college, I blamed it on the lengthy band practices and no sleep….then I graduated and got married. My voice was still weak. I sang at my wedding and barely made it through… and that was all I cared about… I wanted to sing at my wedding and Lord willing, he gave me enough voice for that to happen. My voice issue got increasingly worse throughout the fall of 2010 and continued to become an even greater issue into the summer of 2011. After only 2 days into our youth mission trip…. I couldn’t talk. When I would try to speak normally, my throat was so tight and I had to use so much force to make my vocal chords WORK.  I was so frustrated. After I shot weddings, I wouldn’t be able to talk for at least 3 days…. when I tried to sing along in church, I couldn’t even hit the notes Michael was hitting beside me and I had to try so hard to hold back the tears. It was miserable. I finally made an appointment to see an ENT.

 

I walked into the office that day and it was filled with small children who were screaming because they needed to get tubes put in their ears. I felt so out of place. Why was I here? Why am I DEALING with such a stupid problem?! Why would God take away something that I was using for HIM?! Gosh! All I wanted to do was sing at church and be able to have a decent conversation without my throat tighting and pulsing. What in the world was wrong with me? I had an idea of what was wrong… but I didn’t even want to admit it because I knew there was no easy fix.  I had done my research online and seen videos of vocal chords so I knew what it looked like to have this issue.

 

The nurse called my name and I waited in a small room, glancing at diagrams of ears and throats and voice boxes. The doctor came in and seemed rushed.  He quickly asked me the required questions and then guided me to the next room over where he proceeded to stick a camera up my nose and down my throat. I could see my throat on the screen and as the camera reached my vocal chords, I saw it. A little white nob.  On the top of my vocal chords was a nodule… a callus if you will.  The doctor quickly removed the camera and said “Yep! That’s what I thought, you have nodules, go to this specialist and I’ll see you in 6 months”.  I felt my nose burn and tears forming and I tried desperately to ask him some questions without falling to pieces but he seemed too busy to be bothered.  This was a normal diagnosis for him… he sees this everyday…. but what he didn’t know was that I have feared this for YEARS.  I knew nodules were serious… and they don’t just go away. I exited the waiting room and made my way to my car. It was raining (how appropriate) and I bawled.

 

I called Michael and sounded like a toddler on the other end of the phone. I was so upset I couldn’t get a word out.  I continued to call my dad, I left a voicemail for momma while she was at work and I called my sister Emy…. I knew they couldn’t help me… but I just wanted someone to say “Well I’m sure it will be ok”…. because I wasn’t sure… I was afraid I would never be able to sing again. I love singing… I love it. It’s like “my thing”…. I’ve been singing since I was able to talk and there is just something about it that makes me so happy…. and I couldn’t do it anymore.  I had stopped listening to music in the car because I couldn’t sing along… it was like a tease.  I remember driving up 64 on the way to vacation with Michael and making him turn off the “Wicked” soundtrack because the sound of Idina Menzel was haunting me (yes we listen to that for fun…. all the time:). I was heartbroken and so scared.  My voice was such a huge part of who I was. Not being able to laugh fully or show excitement made me feel so restrained and “Not me”.

 

I was given a number to call to set up speech therapy. In my mind, speech therapy was me sitting in the clinic in 1st grade while the nurse helped me practice my “R’s”.  I had no hope that this would help.  But I want ahead and called the number and spoke to Ali. She sounded so nice on the phone.  I asked if she was taking new patients and if she thought she could help me and she ensured me that she could.  So I started going to speech therapy the next week.  She asked me to sing one note into the microphone and hold it as long as possible.  My performance was embarrassing.  I had nothing.  Just a crackly mess of a note.  She knew I was discouraged… it was so obvious. When I get upset, it’s so hard to hide it.  Ali sat me down in her office and explained that I had “Muscle Tension Dsyphonia”.  Basically, when I talk or sing… the muscles around my vocal chords are extremely tense and tight, causing my vocal chords to be over worked… and over the years, that has formed a callus which was getting in the way of my vocal chords vibrating and creating sound.  Whew! Are you still with me?! So really, my only option was to re-learn how to talk… CORRECTLY. I thought it was craziness at first but week after week… I started noticing a change.  My voice was still weak but I could actually FEEL when my muscles were tight and I had to knowledge and training to fix it.  I began doing my ridiculous exercises every night… even one that included me chanting “Why why Barbara, Why why?” at different pitches!  As crazy as my training seemed…. it was working. It was WORKING!!!!!! The endurance of my voice started to improve and I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel!! I began singing one Adele song a day… and then two… and then three… and then before I knew it, I was hitting all of the notes in “Rolling in the Deep” and I was so happy I could CRY!! Really…. I was so thankful… so thankful for Ali’s help… so thankful to be able to SPEAK again…. and so thankful that I went through all of this.

 

I learned a lot about myself…. a whole lot.  When you lose something that you think defines you… you really find out a lot about your priorities. God used this scary season of my life to make me a better listener…and I learned that I don’t always need to have something to SAY.  He taught me that my voice doesn’t define me and if I NEVER sang again…. my identity in Him never changes… never.  And lastly, this whole experience has made me SO incredibly grateful for my voice.  There are still some days when I’m working at home and singing where I stop and just thank Him that sound is coming out of my mouth!!! It seems like such a little thing… but it taught me so much. I hosted a workshop and literally taught and talked for 8 hours straight….and never lost my voice. To me, that was a MIRACLE!!!  So if you’re going through something… whether it’s something REALLY big or something that most people wouldn’t think twice about….just keep going.  There is a light at the end of the dark tunnel and you’ll be SUCH a better person after you fight your way through this trial.  I cried writing this post because it really is such a story of victory for me. God is faithful…. so so faithful and this post is really a huge shout out to Him! I’m so thankful for my voice, for Michael timing my vocal exercises before bed and for my sweet speech therapist Ali!!!  And to quote last week’s episode of Modern Family, “This one is going down in the books as a “win”!!!!!”

 

 

 

41 Comments Personal
  1. Rachel Cutherell reply

    Katelyn. I cried reading this. I am SO so happy for you! Keep on singing to the Lord! Love you!!

  2. Shuva Rahim reply

    An accomplishment and a win indeed! This reminds me of when I had knee surgery a few weeks after college graduation. And then 2 months of physical therapy after — to relearn how to walk again. A very humbling experience at 19.

  3. Abby Grace reply

    Katelyn, you are such a bright light. You really are- your blog is always a source of encouragement. I was lamenting to my husband yesterday that I can’t see how God will use my to further his kingdom as a wedding photographer, and then you go post this gem. I love watching Jesus shine through you!

  4. molly buckley reply

    katelyn, thank you so much for sharing this. you are such an inspiration and your faith in the Lord, your strength, and your determination are awe inspiring. so happy for you and i’ll pray that your voice continues to be on the mend!! xoxo

  5. Sarah Heinle reply

    Thank you for sharing and being so honest in your posts.

  6. Deborah Zoe reply

    YAY! This definitely worth me clicking on instead of going to be:)! So happy for you Katelyn:)!

  7. Katie S reply

    Chills! What a great post, and inspiration Katelyn, Thanks for taking the time and sharing this with us, The Lord is so good to us, Sing and shine in the light of the Lord! <3 God Bless you!

  8. tori reply

    oh katelyn….i teared up reading this! i LOVE singing, as well (though i can’t hit all of adele’s notes in “rolling in the deep”! haha….give me an ingrid michaelson songbook, and i’d be happy ;) and i’ve actually had seasons in my life of having on-going throat issues, too! not to this extreme, but gosh….enough to TOTALLY understand the frustration and discouragement that comes when you can’t fully operate in something you enjoy so much. thanks for sharing all of this, and the amazing perspective that you gained while having to trust God with something so huge. i’m SO grateful He’s restored it back to you!

  9. katie reply

    Katelyn…thank you for sharing your story. You are such an encouragement and I cannot wait to meet you at the P31 conference.

  10. Kevin reply

    Awesome word, sweetie. I rejoice with you at God’s incredible ways. Love you and am blessed by your wisdom and walk with our Lord.

  11. Jeremy reply

    I felt like I was reading my story – I had vocal nodules as a kid and was a voice major in college and had to learn how to speak and sing without tension! You’re story was such a blessing…thanks :)

  12. momma reply

    KK, thanks for sharing your heart. Like Daddy, I am blessed by your walk with the Lord. You will never know, in this life, how many people you have touched with your honesty and how many will seek and find our Lord Jesus because of your witness. I love you.

  13. Caroline R reply

    You are incredible! Abby G. said it best, I love watching Jesus shine through you too!! P.S. Ummm I LOVE Wicked… it’s our go to track on long family road trips ;)

  14. Allison S. reply

    Can I tell you something? I’d never lost my voice, not once in my life… until my wedding day. Boop! Just totally gone. I knew God wanted me to listen that day… so I did. (and it wasn’t so bad whispering my vows!)

  15. Jill Samter Photography reply

    All I could think of while reading this post was the words to OUR GOD IS GREATER, AWESOME IN POWER, OUR GOD! Cheering you on! Praising God with you! Thankful to have been at the workshop to see His grace shine right through you! I’m so thankful to hear you are healing and on your way to be full restored to perfect health! Now I just need to hear you sing in person! :-D Hugs sweet friend!

  16. Rosemary Rodriguez reply

    May God continue to bless you and keep your voice strong.
    lotsolove to you and Michael.

  17. Seneca reply

    Kateyln!
    I’m praising God for this! And I will pray that you continue to get better! You are such an inspiration to so many people with the way you trust God and share it openly with your blog readers! We all love you Katelyn!!

  18. Anna Grace reply

    This is such an encouraging post!! I love when God takes things away from us for a while so we can learn from him and TRUST Him! It is so hard to do but in the end we depend on Him more. Thanks for sharing your life on your blog Katelyn!

  19. jamie reply

    thank you for sharing how God work this trial for your good and how it deepened your faith in who God is.

  20. Jillian Tree reply

    What an amazing testimony!! Thanks so much for sharing <3

  21. Rae Barnes reply

    Praise God!! He is so good and so faithful, and I am so happy that you pulled through this with Him. The tough stuff makes us stronger.

  22. Tara reply

    Katelyn- thank you so much for sharing this– Praise God! I was welling up with tears because I have the same thing… ugly white nodules on both sides of the vocal chords, that I saw on that big screen at the ENT office- (leaving me with a perpetually slightly scratchy voice since I was a teenager). I haven’t done speech therapy and this encourages me to maybe go forward with it. I think I am intimidated by it… That being said- I am not a singer, and I can’t imagine how hard that must have been. What a great and faithful Lord we have, that he led you through this journey!

  23. Amelia Renee reply

    this is such a beautiful testimony! thank you for sharing this, Katelyn:) I’ve definitely been learning this same thing in my life (except in a different area) & its SO encouraging to see someone I regard so highly say, “I’ve been there too, and its worth the fight”. thank you thank you!

  24. Sophie reply

    I actually had the same thing happen to me! When I was 9 I lost my voice all the time, which was strange because I was and am a very loud, outgoing person, so normally I would talk a lot. I sang everywhere I went, like most little kids. Anywho, my mom took me to the doctor and they found two nodules on my vocal cords. They were bad enough that they wanted to perform surgery, but wouldn’t because I was just a kid. They told me to get speech therapy, but I never ended up going. Over the next few years I found ways to change my speech patterns on my own, drink warm tea in the morning and lots of water. I figured it out. But I totally know what you mean when you feel like you lost part of your identity. The funny thing is that now my scratchy voice is a part of my identity. A part that I actually really like. I still have the two nodules and I like them. They remind me how good God is, and how He can use anything for His glory.

  25. Lydia reply

    I can’t even imagine going through this! Praise God for His healing power and placing people in our lives to help us!

  26. Jill de Bruin reply

    This post brought tears to my eyes…God is so faithful and so good, He is always with us no matter what trial we are going through!

  27. Kimber Wassenberg reply

    Thanks for sharing this, Mrs. Alsop. I teared up at the last paragraph! May the Lord give you many, many more years to use your voice to bring glory to Him!

  28. Kristina W. reply

    Katelyn, you are inspiring.

  29. Harris S. reply

    I’m so glad you got your voice back. I cannot even imagine. I am studying at college to be a speech therapist and I always love hearing sucess stories especially one as inspiring as yours. God is good.

  30. Stephanie reply

    Thank you for sharing! I was in tears when I read this because I am in the dark place where I don’t see the victory. What a great testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness!

  31. LeolaK reply

    Wow…thank you for sharing. Very encouraging message…and inspiring.

  32. Annetta reply

    Wow, good to hear your voice is back. Thanks for sharing. Singing is a wonderful thing, I love doing it too.

  33. Alexandra {Heart Love Weddings} reply

    What a powerful and inspiring story, Katelyn! Thank you for sharing it. Your undeniable strength is truly a gift! So happy you got your voice back! :) xo

  34. gayle reply

    Sweetheart, you will always have a voice, May it be through your words, your photos, your music or your actions, Your voice was intended by the Creator to be heard in a multitude of ways. Thanks for heeding His calling on your life. I love you.

  35. Kelcey Thurman reply

    Praise God Katelyn! Such a great reminder of god’s faithfulness if we only trust him :)

  36. Mo Milligan reply

    I love you KK! This was such an encouraging story! I second what Rachel said, Keep Singin for Jesus, your praise is so contagious! :)

  37. Mo Milligan reply

    I love you KK! This was such an encouraging story! I second what Rachel said, Keep Singin for Jesus, your praise is so contagious! :)

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