Throat cramps?

Filed in Dogs of our Lives, General, HealthTags: ,

Batty had x-rays a couple of weeks ago and hip dysplasia was not evident. He's on muscle relaxants until we can work out what his problem really is, but even with muscle relaxants, he still has difficulty sitting or lying down. When the vet comes back from holidays in his homeland Scotland, we'll look at other possibilities. Who knows? Maybe he really does have spline problems. We'll see.

My health is also being investigated. With my voice easily affected by two or three songs and feeling strained most of the day, I decided to get a professional opinion. When attending Kan's 莫鎮賢 official re-debut at Olympic City, I ran into Anders Nelsson (also a little interesting history about Anders here) and he recommended that I see an old school buddy of his; an ear, nose and throat specialist. At the doctor's clinic, I described the tightness around my throat, the raspiness after singing only two or three songs and the severe cramps I've experienced at the top of my throat over the last several months. He was surprised by the cramps and said that he'd never heard of these cramps in his thirty years of practice, and simply recommended that I find myself a good singing teacher. He was a very nice doctor but somehow I think his knowledge might be out of date. He did however say that my vocol chords were fine after looking at them through a mirror in my throat.

That evening, I related the doctor's findings and his surprise at my cramping experience to a good friend, a practising doctor who is a genius in so many ways. As soon as I described my cramps, he responded with one of the medical terms for the condition: Laryngeal Spasms. That night, I researched laryngeal spasms on the internet and came across a condition that nearly perfectly explains my symptons; Spasmodic Laryngeal Dystonia, also known as Spasmodic Dysphonia.

Armed with this revelation, I downloaded a list of Speech Pathologists in Hong Kong to get further help. The question was which one should I visit. Everything is a gamble. Will the doctor understand my condition? Spasmodic Dysphonia wasn't understood until only recently. For many years, people with severe Spasmodic Dysphonia were referred to psychiatrists instead of speech pathologists. From the list, I first chose only those doctors whose title explicitly included Speech Pathology. Then, being an Australian, I chose only those doctors who had studied in Australia. That narrowed the list down to just four or five. Choosing someone with a clinic convenient for me narrowed it down to just two. I chose one of those, someone who by chance has the same name as a famous actress from the early days of Hong Kong theatre.

My first examination appointment is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. With any luck, the doctor will understand the condition and be able to teach me the exercises and precautions necessary to recover fully. The tightness in my laryngeal muscles is affecting my singing, and it's generally uncomfortable for much of the day. It's also causing tension in my jaw and more than a little teeth grinding. Correcting the problem is very important to me, and now is the perfect time while I am relatively free of work obligations. It would also be an excellent opportunity to learn the correct way to speak. I generally begin to lose my voice after chatting for anything more than forty minutes or so.

Update (December 1, 2007)

I didn't have Spasmodic Dysphonia, just severe strain. I'm feeling much much better now. More water, more sleep, less coke, less coffee and some steam. What a difference! Now it's time to begin vocal training again, pretty much from scratch. My chords will require time to build up their strength again.

Thank you all for caring ;-)


Comments (Comments are closed)

24 Responses to “Throat cramps?”
  1. Richard says:

    Avoid the spicy food, get some Chinese herbal tea and get well soon!

  2. Vanessa says:

    It is difficult to select the best doctor unless you consulted few of them. Let's visit them and get their comment, then, decide which one is the best specialist to heal your health problem. Hope you get well soon.

  3. Sanna says:

    not really sureif this would help Batty, but have a look...

  4. Debbie says:

    Hiya Gregory,

    I'm a speech language therapist student, and Voice Disorders are often times referred to psychiatrists by GPs, etc. because of their lack of knowledge re. the work speech therapists do. I'm sure your speech therapist can help immensely in the diagnosis of your disorder; and work alongside your ENT to do that with you. I hope all goes well with you.

    From what I know about spasmodic dysphonia, it seems to be managed by botox injections. But without a case history, etc. etc. I can't say what you've got for sure. I hope the SLP can help you :)

  5. yinyin says:

    oh my gosh, that stage performance really affected voice.
    Talk less and relax more. ^_^
    Hehe really enjoy reading this article, dont get me wrong, i not mean it the bad way, but acciently learn some medical stuff ^_^ that might affect people around me sooner or latter or never.. but......

  6. Lester says:

    Hi, Gregory.

    We worked together ages ago in TVB (and a couple of other films? I guess). I came to yr. site when looking for some 2nd-hand Canon EOS 350D cameras. Wonder if u know anywhere I can get one? Anyway, it's great to learn abt. yr. latest development. Keep it up, and u'll make it (would love to see yr. next show)! Abt. stage voice, it'll help tremendously if u take some voice classes to learn how to protect (& project) in shows. Cheers & email me if possible.

    Chit Man (Lester)

  7. saoirse says:

    Kinda surprised to see your blog advertised on Google Adsense if I'm not mistaken. I guess the best way to recover fully is to go for treatment like chinese herbs, and yes avoiding hot and spicy food does help. Get well soon. :)

  8. Cheryl says:

    hi greg, remembering seeing u on tv all the time speaking fluent cantonese, i've always been curious about ur story behind, so glad that u've created urself a blog so i can learn more about u now! ur passion to ur career really touches me! Hope u'll keep the good work coming (but dun stress urself, love), i'm looking forward to seeing u more often on tv! (or anywhere else:)) ur career may not have brought fortune to u yet, but i believe u've earned support from the whole chinese community already:) take care dear

  9. Hugo says:

    Wish you get back to 100% soon...I've only started to recently more about you, and i'm very interested to learn more about how you managed to learn Cantonese. I've tried it and let me tell you that i worship your fluency, i'm coming next year to Hk for work, but i think i will never get near to your degree of fluency.
    Keep up the good work Greg, all the best for you

  10. peter says:


  11. Paul says:

    Hi Greg,

    Check this out .... you need vocal warm up exercises every time before you sing ... the advice I got from the expert ... her web-site below ...

    Hope it helps,
    Paul from Toronto

  12. Christina says:

    Dear Gerg,
    We are a group of final year students who study in City University.
    We are under going our final year project, which is a video production project and it is about aussie in Hong Kong.It is a documentary story. We hope we can invite some pop aussie icon(HONG KONG) in the video clip. It will be our honor to invite you to partipate in the movie clip. Thanks
    Here is our contact:

    For my mobile contact, i would like to email to you for the privacy reason. Thanks.

  13. James says:

    Hi Gregory!

    I'm a fan of yours and was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that you're a fellow Australian!

    You might well be aware, election day is November 24. Now, more than ever, it's very important to vote. Please take the time to do so. :)

  14. yinyin says:

    haha~ election day~
    first time voting... so excited

  15. 369 says:

    well soon!

  16. Maggie says:

    Feeling better now? A bit worry about you as you haven't posted anything lately.

    Good luck and get well soon... Remember not to eat spicy and fried food, cold drinks (especially those with ice) and have enough rest... Be happy!

  17. kelvin says:




  18. Malaysian says:

    This is my second time surfing into your blog. Just to let you know. I watched you sang. In one of the Cantonese's series about doctors and nurses. What is strange about this series is you only sang and you played the guitar. A tiny part. It was about this lady doctor who has relapse of cancer. This series is over. The present series has you as a world renown baker. Gateaux, I think is the title. Again, you are a very good competitor with other Cantonese speakers. How did you learn to be so good in it ? There is another show. A made in China karaoke show and this Frenchman ( Caucasian ) speaks and sings Mandarin ! Sometimes you people put us to shame. Anyway, wishing you all the best again in whatever you are doing. They say control of breathing helps one to sing and not put too much strain on the vocal cords.

  19. Kee Kee Goh says:

    Hi (Uncle) Gregory,

    I stumbled upon this blog of yours, I'm an ardent TVB fans from Malaysia but currently completing my MSc in Belgium. I didnt know that you are an Australian until now..saw the interviews (娱乐直播)...;-) and whoa, u've got 11 dogs! (i am also an animal lovers, i like them more than humans, if anything:P ...when i was very young i've always thought of becoming a vet but it's not possible as i later discover how afraid i am of blood and cutting up animals!;P)
    ...anyway it's really nice knowing about your interesting backgroud, and that you sing too! cool! (jacky cheung's been my idol since i was 10 years old, i'm 25 this year)...and lastly, it's so ironic that an australian like you ventured out of aus (my fav country) and someone like me wishing to be in aus (i studied there for a year in my BSc)...haha, sorry i'm so long-winded but it's really interesting knowing you after watching u playing roles in so many TVB series...all the best with work, life and of coz your throat condition...ah yes, and my warmest regards to your kids too, hehe! have a nice week ahead.

  20. suki says:

    Hey there, I am a HK-er in Australia!! I was in Melbourne for a few years and now living in sydney! It's summer now and flies are everywhere... tomorrow is the election day and I don't think Johnny will win this time!

  21. Sun Lee says:

    Hope both you and Batty will get well soon...

    Pls sign the petition :
    Government take back the land, dog shelter have to move out.

    Photos of the poor animals :

    Sun News: 收養流浪動物 用途違反契約

  22. Jaz says:

    I often google famous people like Bjork, Faye Wong and etc, but I never did look up on Mr. Rivers. Tonight, I am glad I googled his name because the genuineness in his writing is really inspiring. It is quite heart warming to hear or read about his journey in chasing after his dreams. This blog is almost like a story that tells his feelings, opinions and experience of success and failure.

    I listened to his songs for the very first time today. I liked the song, Should I. I understand his mandarin better than Jay Chow's. lol. Keep up the good work.

  23. Someone suffering from Spasmodic Dysphonia says:

    Hi, Gregory,

    I suffer from Spasmodic Dysphonia and I received BOtox treatment for that. It helped ease the tightness but just for a short period of time after each shot. Please email me if you want to know more. Good luck.

  24. Nina says:

    Hi there! I know that this post was 4 years back but I desperately need to ask someone who has this disorder. I've been having difficulties talking the for almost a year. I didn't take it seriously until it starts to get worse and affect my daily life. I've seen two doctors in Hong Kong, two in philippines and two in singapore but they can't seem to find the cause of my choked speech. They made me think it was psychological. It made me waste money, time, plus I've been frustrated of not knowing what's wrong. I am looking to see a voice specialist but I can't find a clinic that's open today since it's a sunday. I just did a bit of research over the net and came across SD. It was 100% similar to my symptoms. I would like to meet people who actually have the disorder and ask for more information about it. It bothers me a lot since I was a singer and I had to quit my job. I'm currently in between jobs and I don't know how can I even pass an interview if I have this weird sounding voice when I talk. I would appreciate if you can shed some light and share your inputs on this condition. thank you so much.