Model speaks again for first time in THREE YEARS after being struck dumb by rare throat condition

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UPDATED:

14:34 GMT, 10 May 2012


Sophie Whitelock has learnt how to speak again for the first time in three years after developing vocal polyps

Sophie Whitelock has learnt how to speak again for the first time in three years after developing vocal polyps

A model has had the power of speech restored for the first time in three years after being silenced by a rare throat condition.

Sophie Whitelock, 24, from Romford, Essex, developed vocal polyps, a mass of tissue on her throat, which was so severe that talking became painful and her throat seized up.

After recovering from her ordeal a few weeks ago, she has now spoken about how the condition and how it caused her to fall into depression.

'It was nearly 3 years ago when I started to lose my voice,' she said. 'I was working at a call centre and people were commenting that I sounded like I had a sore throat for a while.

'First of all it didn't affect me much
but it got to the point where I never went out – I lost friends, nearly
lost my job, got signed off for depression and couldn't even order a
cup of coffee on my own,' she said.'

To get to where she is, Miss Whitelock has had to undergo four major operations and speech therapy.

Miss Whitelock works full-time as an administrator said that what started out to be a 'sore throat' nearly cost her job and social life.

Her throat was riddled with so many polyps that despite surgery they returned time and time again.

She had to rely on text messaging to communicate with her long-distance boyfriend, as she was unable to speak on the phone, and he had to be her voice when they went out in public.

'I never spoke and so my voice kind of seized up so when I did try to speak loudly, it was painful and sounded extremely strained and hoarse.

'If I went out my boyfriend would have to order for me and I would often think the waitresses thought I was deluded or just stuck up.

'I stopped going to parties, going out with friends, booking holidays, and I stopped applying for modelling auditions.

'I couldn't go shopping on my own in case someone asked me something. The only time I would go out was if it was with a very close friend or family member who knew everything about me.'

Eventually Miss Whitelock became so depressed with her health that she was signed off work.

She said: 'My life came to a standstill and I couldn't progress within any area of my life.'

When she originally realised she had
more than a sore throat, Miss Whitelock was sent home from the doctors
with antibiotics, but her voice got worse.

After recovering from her ordeal a few weeks ago, she has now spoken about how the condition and how it caused her to fall into depression

After recovering from her ordeal a few weeks ago, she has now spoken about how the condition and how it caused her to fall into depression

'Doctors kept sending me for blood tests and putting me on antibiotics but nothing ever worked,' said Sophie.

A LUMP IN THE THROAT THAT JUST WON'T GO AWAY

Vocal polyps are a lump of flesh usually found around the vocal cord and often occurs in people who use their voice a lot.

It looks like a red lesion that stands out from the rest of the surrounding tissue.

They cause horseness and usually cause intermittent voice loss except in extreme circumstances.

While most of the time they are painless, they can feel like something is lodged in the throat leaving the sufferer wanting to cough something out.

Resting your voice can help but won't eradicate the polyp. Speech therapy can help restore a sufferer's voice, but more often than not surgery is required.

Source: voicemedicine.com

'It took months for them to send me to an ear, nose and throat specialist and I was diagnosed with vocal polyps.

'I had an operation and my voice came back, but then the polyps returned. I had a second operation and months of speech therapy, but that time my voice never returned.'

Miss Whitelock was then referred to the Royal Free NHS foundation in London and had another operation to remove even more polyps, but there were complications by the sheer number of polyps.

'There were so many that he could only do one side of my vocal chords,' she added.

Thankfully, her fourth operation in March has been successful, allowing her to speak again for the first time, although she still regularly gets infections.

She said: 'I finally have a speaking voice and am due to see [the surgeon] again in May. I can speak a lot better now, I just sound husky.'