The Voice, End of Weeks 4 and 5

Through the the lens of a lion heart and faith in the Universe, I began to gather a party of forces and friends, Bilbo Baggins’ style, and set out on the quest to find out what is causing my vocal chord paralysis and to see what can be done to heal it.

Off I went, with high spirits and energy, to meet what must be met and to seek out help from as many sources as I needed. I was prepared to slog through medical journals, speak with people in-the-know, and do my own mind-body-heart-meditation work.

In my own personal myth, I was a heroine on a heroine’s journey. It was epic, it was the stuff of soaring John Williams’ scores and Enya soundscapes.

And the quest may be all that, but I am also profoundly sad and not sure of who I am anymore.

Medically, a cat scan has shown very little, although I am seeing my ENT this week to talk more about it. His recommendation is to have a saline injection into the vocal folds on a Friday, and see if I can sing over the weekend. If that is successful, and I think “WOW, I MUST be able to do this again!” then I am a candidate for surgery that he can perform. (Ironically, I have helped a dozen or so singing and speech students who’ve had vocal fold surgery sing again.) But Doc says that even with successful surgery I probably won’t sing more than a song or two at a time, and probably not any arias or extended forms of song.

I am wondering how surgery can fix a neurological blockage, since the vocal cords themselves are fine. The surgeon could not answer this.

Physically, I have continued off and on with the “Somatic Voice Work tm The Lovetri Method” vocal exercises. They do strengthen my throat, and I have a few tiny sounds that are accurate pitches reappearing in my middle voice. Yesterday a few higher notes made an appearance. But they are single pitches and can not be sustained. It is mind-numbingly hard work.

I am making adjustments to my teaching and recharged my Chatter Vox, which is a headset microphone with a small amplifier that is belted around the waist. I used it about 15 years ago when I was regularly teaching large groups of people with The Washington Vocal Consortium. I have gone back to using it for teaching groups of singers.

At times like this, I think I would like a boring office job as I imagine it would be easier to keep working while dealing with this inner terrain….perhaps I am wrong. I have returned to sewing and painting, after a hiatus of 10 long years, and it feels like the best therapy in the world.

And a mighty fine substitution for a Ben and Jerry’s run.