Monday, December 28, 2009

The Sound of Silence

On Saturday afternoon, I decided it was time to break the silence of my vocal rest. Dr. King told me to rest for at least 48 hours. I think he felt bad that if I went the three to four days he originally prescribed, I wouldn't be able to talk on Christmas. But I didn't want to take any chances so I decided to go the full four days.

As it came time to speak, I found myself increasingly nervous about it. My throat felt completely normal, but I kept wondering if my voice would be drastically different or really rough. After all, I'd just had a few sections of my vocal cords toasted with a laser. The damage wouldn't be healed in only four days. Still, I was a little surprised when I did speak to hear how hoarse I was, considering how normal I felt. My voice was a little more hoarse than my worst days with the polyp, and it definitely took a bit more effort to speak than usual.

Three days later, it's sounding much improved over the weak, hoarseness of Saturday. Definitely trending in the right direction. Tom thinks it sounds pretty normal, but my perception isn't so rosy because I feel how much effort it takes to talk. I'm trying hard to speak properly, using my support rather than letting the voice box do all the work, particularly if I have to speak with any volume. Even though I'm not talking very much, I feel my voice growing fatigued. I'm sure the muscles in my throat are a bit out of shape, since I've been dealing with the hoarseness for so long and I've also spent a lot of time before the surgery speaking as little as possible in the hopes that vocal rest would help.

It's easy for me to get concerned, as worrying is almost a hobby for me, but I keep telling myself that I've got to give my body time to heal. All I have to do is look at the photo of the finished procedure. It looks like someone put their cigarette out on my vocal cords, complete with a few black singe marks along the edges of the treated areas.

Tomorrow is my follow-up appointment. I'm not looking forward to having that damned scope stuck up my nose again, but I am anxious to see how things are healing. I'm not sure when he'll give me to go-ahead to start singing again. I do know that it's going to be a bit nerve-wracking, though, because I'm going to be hypersensitive to any fatigue, pain, or unusual sound quality for awhile. I can't wait to be able to sing again, but I also don't want to push it and damage my voice.

One thing I've learned in this whole experience is that I'm not alone in having this problem. I just discovered that Rosanne Cash couldn't sing for 2 1/2 years because of a polyp, and the list of artists who have had polyps or nodules is like a "who's who" of great singers. Luciano Pavarotti, Freddie Mercury, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Robert Plant, Bonnie Tyler, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Sarah Brightman, Bette Midler, and many, many others have had nodules or polyps. And then, of course, there's Julie Andrews (whom I consider my first voice teacher thanks to the hours I spent as a child trying to sing "The Sound of Music" note for note, just as she did). Tragically, she lost her ability to sing thanks to a botched surgery on her vocal cords. It's not a club I ever wanted to join, but at least I'm in good company.

For more info on singers with nodules or polyps, check out this Wikipedia page:

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