John Mayer's singing career nearly came to a crashing halt late last year after he was diagnosed with a granuloma (severe tissue inflammation on his vocal chords) that threatened to decimate his voice.
Music fans watched Adele go through a similarly harrowing battle last year and, like Mayer, she came out the other side thanks to Dr. Steven Zeitels, a Boston-based laryngeal expert. "I actually referred [Zeitels] to Adele," Mayer says in the new issue of Billboard magazine. "My situation was different, however-more complex, and a lot more ambiguous."
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But early treatments that combined Botox and surgery did nothing to remedy Mayer's predicament. "I spent so long being terrorized, I had all but shut down the fantasy of playing music again --- just so I could, you know, survive," he says. That led him to try near-complete vocal rest. "I was forced to type on my iPad to communicate anything," he laments.
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John remained undeterred in finding a cure, which took him to Dr. Gerald Berke, an otolaryngology specialist at the UCLA Voice Center for Medicine and the Arts, who increased the Botox injection 17-fold to truly paralyze Mayer's vocal chords. Several weeks later the frozen chords were showing much improvement, so they did another series of Botox injections.
"I probably had contiguously three, maybe four months of not saying a word," Mayer says. "The endurance was tough for me, but I started a new life. It's hard to believe that I'm healed, but just to make sure, I keep going back every two weeks for a look, and it's the same-if not better."