Monday, March 4, 2013

My Diagnosis

Over the past two years, many of you have asked me, "Why aren't you doing shows anymore?"

Many of you have come to your own conclusions.  I have told many of you that I felt a sense of closure and I wanted to concentrate more on my personal relationships.  While both of these things are true, there is a third item that I hadn't mentioned except to a few of you in personal, one-on-one conversations.

I have been in pain for almost two years.  My throat, when I sang, would feel as if I had razor blades slicing up and down my vocal chord area.  No home remedy I tried eased the pain...nothing worked except for not using my singing voice.  Because the most severe pain directly coincided with a show I was doing where I'd speak like a boy one moment, then belt out D's the next, I was petrified I had nodes.

You've all seen Pitch Perfect (and if you haven't, you need to).   While they make light of "living with nodes," the truth is they are no laughing matter.  Most singers lose their chutzpah after being treated.  Some are even told they will never sing again.

Can you imagine being told you will never again do the thing you have loved to do most your entire life?  Can you imagine losing the one thing that has always made you feel safe?  Can you imagine losing the one way you feel you can truly express your deepest emotions?

Even though I'm merely an amateur community-theater show-tune lover, the thought broke my heart.  The thought lead me to many nights secretly shedding tears, pretending to others like my plight was no big deal.  Excuse after excuse spewed forth from my mouth instead of music.  Seeing the doctor meant I might hear words that would drop my glass heart from a skyscraper and shatter all of my dreams.  For two years, I have repeated these words in my nightmares, "You will never sing again.  You will never sing again.  You will never sing again."

Recently, I was asked to be a part of Nunsense - A Musical.  I defied my fears, yet with each rehearsal the pain once again sliced me with razor edges.  I'd often feel, "My voice is too tired to talk," accompanied with the thought, "You are an idiot - you could be causing more damage." 

As happens in life, whether emotional, spiritual, or physical, sometimes the pain becomes too much to stand another day without seeking a solution.

I made an appointment with a doctor I felt drawn to for some inexplicable reason.  Immediately, my fear became excitement...excitement that I would  finally know what had been inflicting me for so long.

After making the appointment, I found old e-mails from musically-gifted friends who had had nodes, referring me to this doctor.  At the appointment, I ran into an old friend who, unbeknownst to me, is a doctor at that facility.  All of these things continued to make me feel at ease.

Have you ever had your throat scoped?  Incredibly cool and incredibly uncomfortable. True to my tough-girl form, I only gagged once! 

The doctor quickly calmed my fears, "Well, you aren't Adele!"  No nodes!

But what the heck was wrong with me then?

"See that redness, swelling, and generally raw-looking skin around your chords?  You have Laryngopharyngeal Reflux." 

Folks, I've never had heartburn a day in my life.  I was baffled.  Doc let me know he refers to my condition as "singer's reflux", or "silent reflux," because he finds it most often in singers and we don't have any other symptoms aside from throat pain and hoarseness.   The only treatment is to follow a rather stringent list of dietary rules, sleeping-position rules, and to take medication every morning and every night.  These treatments may not be things I have to do forever, but at least for the next few months.

The best news I could have ever imagined hearing from the doctor (who was so sweet and almost as excited as I was)?

"Yes!  You are free to sing!  Within three weeks, you should be pain-free!" 

I'm not comfortable with the idea of having a "disease."  I'm the healthy girl, right?  The one who always marks the box, "Not taking any medications."  The one who goes to the gym every day.  The one who carries bananas and fiber-protein bars in her purse as snacks.  The one who only gets legitly sick maybe once every two years.  Now I have to put two real pills in my vitamin containers?   Not my idea of fun.

But you know what is my idea of fun?  Singing at the top of my lungs, unreserved, unabashed, and FREE!


S.R. Braddy said...

Probably not the right thing to say, but... congratulations!

Jenn said...

YAY FOR YOU! I'm sorry you have been suffering in silence for so long.

Janell said...

Yay! I'm happy you had happy news!

Ru said...

Phew! Glad you don't have nodes :)

miss kristen said...


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