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A Tonsillectomy Can Ruin Your Playing



 
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JBarrer
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 4:10 pm    Post subject: A Tonsillectomy Can Ruin Your Playing Reply with quote

A caution to all. Although it is rare to have a tonsillectomy after, say, age 30, it does happen. If you are a wind player, especially a trumpet player, it can ruin your ability to play above the staff. I know from experience. Would anyone like to buy my Schilke P5-4?

A few years ago my doctor said I suffered from sleep apnea and suggested that a tonsillectomy might help that as well as the hoarseness I experienced from snoring. I went through with the operation and the pain during recovery was very bad. But worst of all, after recovering I discovered that I could no longer play the piccolo and even with my C trumpet it was difficult to get above the staff.

My advice is that you should avoid the surgery if at all possible and find an alternative solution. (
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had a Tonsilectomy and also a Uvelectomy and Roto-rooter job on my vocal pipe. No long term, appreciable damage. How long ago did you have this done?
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JBarrer
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, you are lucky. I can no longer seal the passage from my throat to my nasal passage, so air leaks out when I increase the pressure to play higher notes.
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe I'm lucky, but maybe it can be corrected in your case if you visited a different specialist and told him specifically what your problem is. Hate to see you stop playing, man.
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JBarrer
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks. I'll check around. Have you heard whether the leaking is temporary and that it may recover with practice?
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ToyTrumpet
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to ask - how long has it been since the procedure?

A few years ago, I also had a tonsillectomy at age 21. I was told this is actually still considered to be pretty old to have your tonsils taken out, and after the procedure I could see why... I couldn't swallow or talk for at least a week, and wasn't anything close to fully functioning until about three weeks after the procedure. Then, I slowly got back into playing to prepare for a summer festival, which I had about two weeks to get back in shape for. From the moment I started playing again, I had the same issue you describe with the nasal passage leak not allowing my usual high register to work (which, as a young player, naturally led to an instant identity crisis).

I asked my university professor about it and did a lot of reading, and decided my only option was to accept that things may not go back to normal, but that I should just try a lot of things and see what worked for me. My teacher's recommendation did actually FIX this problem for me, over the course of a few weeks. Here what you do...

Lots of multiple tonguing. Double, triple, Arban's, Soldier's tale, Scheherazade.... do at least 10 minutes during your first session of the day, and then just go back to whatever you normally do. It's definitely not an instant fix but the nose leak was completely gone about 5-6 weeks after surgery. Not exactly sure how it works, except that when you have surgery you are literally changing your anatomy, and the mechanisms you had in place to play trumpet were partially a result of your previous anatomy. So, it makes sense to me that you have to give it time to adjust to your new anatomy and try to strengthen your palette with some multiple tonguing drills.

If you want to read more, look up Soft Palatal Air Leak, or Velopharyngeal Insufficiency.

Good luck, and keep us posted.
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TrumpetMD
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JBarrer wrote:
Wow, you are lucky. I can no longer seal the passage from my throat to my nasal passage, so air leaks out when I increase the pressure to play higher notes.

Not all tonsillectomies are the same. But as ToyTrumpet already pointed out, velopharyngeal insufficiency is a potential side-effect of this procedure. There are tonguing and breathing exercises that can help. After my surgery, and with the help of my teacher, it took about 6 months of exercises to recover. I still have residual issues with air leaks, but only under extreme situations.

Mike
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trpthrld
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tell me more about your picc - how old, what condition, price...?
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JBarrer
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, thanks for all the advice guys. I will get to work on those exercises tomorrow. I'll let you know in six weeks how it went. check back on Aug 15th!

I sure hope I can play the Pic again. Recently, the schilke factory completely overhauled it for me and it plays like new...except for my air leaks.
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Louise Finch
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:27 am    Post subject: Re: A Tonsillectomy Can Ruin Your Playing Reply with quote

JBarrer wrote:
A caution to all. Although it is rare to have a tonsillectomy after, say, age 30, it does happen. If you are a wind player, especially a trumpet player, it can ruin your ability to play above the staff. I know from experience. Would anyone like to buy my Schilke P5-4?

A few years ago my doctor said I suffered from sleep apnea and suggested that a tonsillectomy might help that as well as the hoarseness I experienced from snoring. I went through with the operation and the pain during recovery was very bad. But worst of all, after recovering I discovered that I could no longer play the piccolo and even with my C trumpet it was difficult to get above the staff.

My advice is that you should avoid the surgery if at all possible and find an alternative solution. (


Hi JBarrer

I am very sorry to hear of your difficulties and hope that you not only make a full recovery from your tonsillectomy, but that your piccolo and upper register difficulties are either now resolved or on the way to being resolved.

Your post has brought a question to mind, which I hope you don't mind me adding to your thread.

I understand that this thread is about having a tonsillectomy after having already developed as a player, but it has made me wonder about people who had a tonsillectomy prior to starting playing, such as myself who had both tonsils and adenoids out at aged 6, and whether the resulting space in the throat and nose has any affect on upper register attainment or the potential upper limit to a players range.

Obviously I realise that it is a matter of technique, there are surely many other factors, and that because a lot of us don't need to play in the extreme upper register, we don't necessarily devote attention to developing our range to its maxim, but just for interests sake, I'm wondering whether having no tonsils or adenoids could have an influence on a player's upper register.

Thanks very much.

Take care

Lou
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trickg
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The mechanism we use to play the trumpet is pretty sensitive to changes, and I had my own experience with an experience or two that altered my playing.

When I was a senior in high school, my wisdom teeth were coming in. I had one that was coming in sideways, pushing on my bottom row of teeth. Otherwise I had room for them and the rest were in ok with the exception of one that was slightly offset to the outside. Back then, the wisdom (heheh) was that if you were going to have one removed, you might as well have them all removed, so I went in one Friday after school and had all of them pulled - I don't know if my case was different, but I didn't have oral surgery - they were simply pulled, and the holes were left open to heal on their own, and I never had an issue with dry socket.

In any case, I had almost no post-procedure complications other than some minor swelling that day, and minor pain afterward, and I healed up pretty quickly, but the effect of having all four of those teeth removed had a pretty profound effect on my playing. Range was more difficult and I lost a ton of endurance because I had to work harder to do everything.

In more recent years, I lost a molar on my bottom row, and although I had it replaced with an implant, there was a minor shift in my playing both when the gap was there after the tooth was pulled, and again once the implant was installed - a process that took about 9 months altogether. (It shouldn't have taken that long, but my dentist was going through some health issues, so getting in to get the work done took a bit of time - another dentist actually installed the titanium implant itself.)

When the tooth was gone, my sound was a bit more open and there was a noticeable change when the implant and crown was finally done - that openness tightened up. That was a minor change, and I doubt if anyone would have been able to hear it, but I could definitely feel it.

JBarrer, all I can say is to get back on the horse and keep working it - it might take a while and you may need an instructor to help you get through it, but I truly hope you can get things back.
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John Mohan
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 6:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TrumpetMD wrote:
JBarrer wrote:
Wow, you are lucky. I can no longer seal the passage from my throat to my nasal passage, so air leaks out when I increase the pressure to play higher notes.

Not all tonsillectomies are the same. But as ToyTrumpet already pointed out, velopharyngeal insufficiency is a potential side-effect of this procedure. There are tonguing and breathing exercises that can help. After my surgery, and with the help of my teacher, it took about 6 months of exercises to recover. I still have residual issues with air leaks, but only under extreme situations.

Mike


Mike just saved me some typing.

I hope your situation improves with time, and I think it will if you practice sensibly with plenty of rest. Google the term velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI) and you will find a lot of information from other wind players and doctors about the condition and how to deal with it.

Best wishes,

John Mohan
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GordonH
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 1:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had a tonsillectomy at 2 years old. My tonsils regrew and I had quite serious health problems. I then had them out again, but taken out more deeply at the age of 31. Technically it was "excision of tonsillar remnants" but there was plenty of tonsil there.

I found it opened out my sound quite significantly. I can't remember how long the recovery period was, but it was not nice. I had been so ill before though that it wasn't much difference. I was having sore throats like bee stings for four or five weeks out of six.
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LittleRusty
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had mine pulled at 28 years of age. I had strep literally for a year before. The doctor was monitoring so they could operate after it went away.

He was near the end of his career and said the tonsils were the worst he had ever seen.

I was back to normal within a week of the surgery.

I only post this to add some balance to those considering surgery.
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