Skip to content

How Richard Harris lost his voice – and got it back again

Shortly after New Year's Day, NPR science reporter Richard Harris lost his voice. After research and consultation with (and I'm guessing on this point) an otolaryngologist, he discovered he was suffering from unilateral vocal fold paralysis. He writes on Shots:

The disruptive cases, like mine, are often caused by a surgeon who accidentally nicks the nerve that controls the left vocal cord. That nerve actually travels down into the chest, so it's potentially in harm's way during heart surgeries. That kind of medical boo-boo is known in the trade as "iatrogenic," which I guess is what the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates would have said when he meant "oops."

I hadn't had chest surgery over winter break, and a CT scan revealed no obvious cause. So doctors call my kind of case "idiopathic."

Thankfully, Harris received a treatment that restored his voice. He recounts the whole story on Shots and even includes "before and after" voice samples in the entry. It's fascinating and well worth reading.

Here's to a speedy recovery, Richard.

Popular posts