Shania Twain Says Speaking Is 'More Difficult' Than Singing After Surgery: 'My Voice Has Changed'
Shania Twain has discovered a new voice.
On Monday, the country music star, 54, opened up to the British talk show Loose Women about her battle with Lyme disease, recalling that she, at one point after her diagnosis, she feared she might lose her voice.
"There was a long time when I thought I would never sing again," said Twain. "It took years to get to the bottom of what was affecting my voice, and, I would say, a good seven years before a doctor was able to find out if it was nerve damage to my vocal cords directly caused by Lyme disease. I was simply out horse riding in the forest and got bit by a tick, a Lyme tick."
The "Man! I Feel Like a Woman" singer reflected on how she would avoid certain situations in order to protect her voice.
"You start avoiding speaking on the phone, you start avoiding going to places that have ambient noise where you have to speak over the volume of others. It's very debilitating," she said. "Our voice is such a huge part of our self-expression. For a vocalist, a singer ... it's devastating in so many ways.
"Until I got to the bottom of why I was having a problem with my voice, there wasn't really much I could do about it," continued Twain. "So it took a long time. I did believe that I would probably have to accept at some point that I was never going to sing again."
She added: "Thankfully I persevered, and I'm making records again and putting on concerts."
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories
Twain said she underwent an open-throat surgery, which she described as "very scary." She described the procedure as inserting crutch-like installations that "stabilize the weakness in the vocal cord function." Her voice is different now, but she is making the most of her new musical sound.
"My voice has changed. My speaking voice is definitely the biggest effort. Sometimes I get a bit raspy… singing is actually easier," she said. "I have more power when I'm singing now. I have more character, I find. I enjoy singing again. Speaking is the more difficult challenge for me than singing, which, 'Okay, I'll take that!'"
Twain said her family has been "so incredibly supportive" throughout her health scare, which she admitted "got me down" before her medical team discovered the true cause of her vocal troubles. The artist is married to husband Frédéric Thiébaud and is mom to son Eja Lange, 19, from a previous marriage.
RELATED VIDEO: Shania Twain on Singing Again After Lyme Disease Battle: ‘I Have More Appreciation Than Ever’
"Once I was into recovery I was feeling optimistic all of a sudden and feeling better about it. It's been a long road," said the Grammy winner. "And I have had to rediscover my voice as well and also accept that it will never be the same. But I love my new voice, I am grateful."
Earlier this year, Twain told PEOPLE that it "would have killed me not to be able to ever sing again."
"I wasn't going to let my life be over if I wasn't going to be able to sing again, but I would have been very sad and I would have mourned that forever," she said at the time. "But it is a great love of mine and a passion — that’s what got me back onstage again, because I could. Now I have more appreciation for it than ever."