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Ellen's Story

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Voice Loss

“Dr. Soliman Gave Me My Voice Back”

For almost a year Ellen C. experienced voice loss which was gradually getting worse. By the end of some days, she would have no voice at all.  “I couldn’t talk on the phone or talk to anyone in person. It was frustrating and isolating,” remembers Ellen, 74.

Ellen went to her primary care doctor who referred her to an ENT at a local hospital close to her home in Delaware County, PA. “The ENT was very nice. He told me I had a paralyzed vocal cord. He also said because of pre-existing cardiac issues [Ellen has a pacemaker and is under treatment for a second heart condition] he would need to refer me to a surgeon at the Temple Head & Neck Institute. The ENT told me he trained under this specialist, and I would be in great hands,” Ellen says.

Ellen was referred to Ahmed Soliman, MD, an otolaryngologist and Director of the Voice, Airway, & Swallowing Center at the Temple Head & Neck Institute. “I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to get an appointment with Dr. Soliman in just a few days. I have heard that sometimes it takes weeks to get an appointment with a specialist or surgeon. I got an appointment quickly and that made me very happy,” adds Ellen.

With a best friend of 40 years by her side, Ellen went to her initial appointment to see Dr. Soliman. Ellen recalls that Dr. Soliman made her feel comfortable and she liked his gentle demeanor. “Dr. Soliman is caring, professional and kind,” shares Ellen. “He explained my condition and told me that he needed to examine my larynx. He assured me I wouldn’t be in pain and told me not to be afraid. I trusted him and he was correct in everything he told me: the examination was painless.”

Ellen also appreciated how Dr. Soliman explained her condition in a way she could understand. “He showed me what was wrong on a computer monitor and he explained that I had a paralyzed vocal cord. He then said I could be treated through surgery,” Ellen says.

Dr. Soliman offered two options for Ellen. He said he could perform a temporary fix to the problem during a same-day surgery procedure or a more complex surgery that he thought could most likely permanently repair her condition. “He explained both options. He did say that because of my cardiac issues that he thought a hospital setting would be best. He recommended the second option—the permanent solution—and added that an overnight stay would be needed. I told him that surgery in the hospital was my choice and he scheduled my surgery,” Ellen says.

In June  2016, Dr. Soliman performed a medialization laryngoplasty on Ellen to treat her paralyzed vocal fold.

“I had an experienced team in the operating room. Anesthesiologists and nurses were there; it was very reassuring that I was being monitored so closely,” recalls Ellen. “It my first time at Temple University Hospital and I was thrilled with my outcome and the overall experience. When I was in recovery I had my voice back. The next day I went home, and by the third day my voice diction, strength and tone were the same as before my paralyzed vocal fold,” continued Ellen.

About ten days later, Ellen returned for a follow-up visit with Dr. Soliman. “He told me that I was good to go, shook my hand and wished me well. Since the surgery, I have had my voice back and life is good again,” Ellen adds.

Life After Surgery

Ellen keeps herself busy. A widow, mother of two adult sons, and grandmother of four, she is an active volunteer at a local senior center and her church. She’s also an avid reader, socializes with a group of ladies, and enjoys spending time with her family. Prior to her retirement, she worked as both an office manager and personal care aide. “I have always liked helping people,” shares Ellen. “That’s why I am sharing my story about my experience with Dr. Soliman. When you don’t have a voice, it can get you down. You can’t speak to friends, or even a clerk in a store. It’s frustrating. I hope someone reads my story and chooses Dr. Soliman to help them. Dr. Soliman gave me back my quality of life. He’s a wonderful doctor and I truly am grateful to him.”