Alan H., 76, is a musician, playwright, professional performer and is also a doting grandfather. When he began experiencing hoarseness in his voice, pain in his throat, and felt his throat was inflamed, he knew he needed discuss the changes he was noticing with the otolaryngologist (ENT) he saw yearly. “I went once a year to my ENT to get the ear wax vacuumed out. And when the symptoms of discomfort and hoarseness persisted I brought it to her attention,” Alan recalls.
By May 2015, his local ENT had performed five biopsies and suggested Alan should speak as little as possible to rest his throat and vocal cords. “This was a challenge for me as I was performing in a Vaudeville-style show and I was the co-lead. Not using my voice is something that affects my livelihood and quality of life,” Alan shares. In addition, follow up visits were becoming frustrating because he wasn’t getting any relief.
The timing was on his side as the show was going on a summer hiatus. Alan continued seeing the ENT, and by early August the ENT told him the symptoms were not changing, and she no longer thought she could treat him. She said he needed a doctor who was a specialist in the field of the throat, larynx and vocal cords. She suggested Alan see Ahmed M. Soliman, MD, Director of the Voice, Airway, and Swallowing Center at the Temple Head & Neck Institute.
“A referral from a doctor to another doctor is impressive. I trusted what my ENT told me, and I called Dr. Soliman’s office. I was pleasantly surprised. I was told I could be seen immediately and I was relieved,” Alan says.
A Second Opinion Close to Home
Alan said he traveled to Dr. Soliman’s office in Fort Washington, PA, in Montgomery County, less than 20 minutes from his home. “Having a suburban office is such a convenience for me,” he shares.
On August 13, 2015, Alan had his initial appointment with Dr. Soliman. “He was calm, nice and patient. He asked me in a very matter-of-fact way to describe my issues and what was going on. He was warm and personable. I knew right away what a skilled doctor he is,” Alan says.
During the examination, Alan said Dr. Soliman was gentle and kept asking whether he was in pain. “He put the probe down my nose instead of my mouth which was much more comfortable for me,” he adds. “After a few minutes Dr. Soliman said, ‘I know what the source of the issue is and why you are not healing.’”
Alan said it was more than he could have hoped to hear.
Alan had been prescribed an inhaler by his general doctor to combat some asthmatic issues. The steroid in that medication was causing ulceration of his vocal cords so they were not healing. “Dr. Soliman told me to stop using the inhaler immediately and to reduce the use of my voice. He assured me I would start feeling better. And, he kept his word: within a few weeks, I felt much, much better.”
Back on Stage with Confidence & a Strong Singing Voice
Alan said that Dr. Soliman suggested he take advantage of vocal therapy by speech pathologist Barbara Ebersole, BFA, MA, CCC-SLP, Director of Speech & Language Pathology at the Temple Head & Neck Institute. “I had six sessions and Barbara was wonderful. She taught me voice exercises to help me get my voice range back after six months of voice downtime,” Alan says.
Alan said his only regret is not seeing Dr. Soliman sooner. “I wish I was referred to him much sooner. It takes a specialist to understand medication interactions and to recognize the source of a problem, and to create a plan of action to remedy the problem,” Alan adds. “Suggesting voice therapy only added to my good care. The Temple Head & Neck Institute has exceeded my expectations in every way. I have my voice back, I’m back performing and I can’t say enough kind words about Dr. Soliman.”