Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Vow Of Silence

This blog is all about my running. However, as I mentioned in my very first post, other aspects of my life will likely make appearances, especially since so much of my life is touched by running in one way or another. With that thought in mind, I'll be blogging about something different from the norm this week.

I had vocal cord repair surgery today. I'm not allowed to speak for seven days. No talking, no laughing, no singing, no whispering, no sounds, no mouthing words. For a week. After that, I'll be allowed to speak in only short sentences for about three weeks.

I've spent the last week bouncing between curiosity and terror about being without a voice. Sure, it's only a week. Also, it's very fortuitous timing for this teacher on summer break. However, there are so many snags you don't consider until you know you won't be able to speak. I'm sure there are many more things I'll learn in this week/month. A friend suggested I blog about it—giving me a way to retain "my voice," so to speak—so that's what I'm going to do. Maybe it will help someone who is in my position in the future, as well.

On the closing weekend of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in early March, I contracted a case of "laryngitis" that made the two-a-day closing difficult. My singing was breathy, and my range was diminished. Weeks later, when my voice didn't fully recover, I blamed it on allergies. Later, when my students and I would laugh about my vocal cracks, I blamed it on overuse. In early May, when it was still no better, I sought professional help.

Many doctors' appointments later, I learned that a hemorrhaging blood vessel was causing the problems, one that would never get better without surgical intervention. Blame it on what you want: teaching, basketball spectating, singing Joseph, breathing cold air, combination, whatever. I've done those things my whole adult life and never had a problem. No matter. Today, the blood vessel was removed from the left vocal cord, and repairs were made to the damage it had done.

If you know me at all, or if you read this blog, you know that I worry a lot. So, yes. I'm worried about things. Want the short list? I'm worried that:
  • I'll never speak again.
  • I'll speak again, but sound unlike myself.
  • I'll never sing again, à la Julie Andrews.
  • I'll sing again, but not well.
  • I'll have a raspy voice for life.
My doctor assures me that all went well, and that he expects a full recovery—like he's experienced with every other patient he's ever had in my situation—but I still worry.

Positives and Plans
As a worry shield, I've been trying to focus on the positives. Here's what I have so far. Add more if you'd like.
  • This thing will likely be fixed, and I'll be able to speak and sing properly again.
  • It will be a wonderful opportunity to really listen.
  • I don't have to worry about missing school while I can't talk.
  • This situation will make for some great stories later.
  • I won't put my foot in my mouth by saying something stupid.
  • I will learn better patience.
  • I won't feel like I have to fill silences with words.
  • I'll have a chance to work on quiet tasks like reading, movie watching, quilting, etc.
  • I may be able to help others in a similar situation.
  • I. Can. Run!
Ed will help me a lot. Mom and Dad, too. If I have to navigate around town without him or them, I can use some little cards I've made that say, "I recently had vocal cord repair surgery and can't speak at this time. However, I can hear just fine. :o) I'll write notes to communicate." I have an iPad app that allows me to write notes with my finger. I can use a notebook and pencil if my iPad is charging.

Drive-throughs are out, but I really only use those at the bank. Talking on the phone is out, but I mostly text, anyway. Wendy, Wes, and anyone else with whom I run will just have to carry the conversation.

I'll make it. I'll be fine.

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