My Vocal Injury Journey - Part II

After receiving such crazy news about my vocal chords, I feel like these last few weeks have been a blur.

My producers decided to take me out of the show affective immediately, which I’m glad they did. It was right before my birthday, December 21. In a twisted way, I was relieved and happy to have my first Christmas and New Year’s off in forever, but the happiness went away as quickly as it began.  I was to go on worker’s comp for this injury, but because all of this happened around the holidays, I was on a holding pattern for…. 6 WEEKS. Literally no contact… I had no idea what to do- I hadn’t been on workers comp before. Do I talk? Not talk? Go out into public? Celebrate my birthday and Christmas? I wasn’t dying, but I also wasn’t sure what would be inappropriate, so I kind of just spent those weeks alone in my house, and the occasional dinner in public with my family. After those very long 6 weeks, I had to go to multiple doctors to confirm my injury did, in fact, happen at work.  They confirmed, and I had to fill out gobs of paperwork… and then, finally… I was approved. By then, it was the end of January and I hadn’t been paid a penny. Let’s just say I wasn’t expecting that. I had just furnished my place on December 1, had the holidays, etc. IT. WAS. ROUGH.

But, at least I had answers.  I went on vocal rest for one week, and then 2 weeks of normal speaking, which is when my amazing boyfriend Isaac took me on a quick 3-day getaway to the snow, and then the sand, to take my mind off of everything. It set me up to have a good mental approach for this next bit of time. Then came another week of vocal rest, and then finally I was able to start the next round of “healing”.

(For those of you who have never had to go on vocal rest before… it is so so so hard! No talking at all- no whispering, and you get a little handheld whiteboard to try and communicate as best as you can. OOF!)

A little while ago I started speech pathology at Vegas Voice Institute to start rehabbing my vocal chords. I go 3-4 days a week… driving 45 minutes each way, so it’s a solid 3+ hours of my day, plus an hour of practice a day at home. My pathologist is the only one in the state of NV with the ability to strobe my chords, and also the only one who has worked with singers (many, of whom, I’m sure you know… her wall of fame is pretty dang impressive.)

 I feel like I am finally in good hands- we do the most ridiculous exercises, which, she warned me beforehand I would question if “this was really helping”. She was right- at this point, I don’t understand how blowing into a straw and making bubbles in water is doing anything, and I have to convince myself to practice.  She also warned me I may get/feel worse before I feel better.  She was right about that, too… I just found out that during my second checkup with my doctor, 2 months after being removed from my show, it looked a lot worse. This was with the complete vocal rest, no singing, absolutely no yelling, and then beginnings of rehabilitation. I’m really, really confused, but no one else seems to be.

Let me stop right here and say, I am by no means a doctor, or am planning on giving an ounce of medical advice. These are just the experiences I am going through, and documenting them along the way.

Needless to say, this completely sucks.  I have friends who have had vocal injuries, take two months off, and are back at it with no problems. I keep asking myself what else I could be doing… and everyone keeps saying to stay positive and stop expecting a quick fix.  I asked about surgery, and each doctor I’ve spoken with says that due to the muscle and tissue injuries around the nodules, it wouldn’t be actually solving the underlying problem.  The nodules aren’t the major concern because they’re not that big, the rest of the surrounding area is.  They are saying that each individual case is different, and if I try to rush the process, I’ll injury myself more.  Let me go on record and say that not having the most important piece of your identity for this long is already really wearing me out.  Had it been a CHOSEN break or time off, I think I’d be in a better mindset- relax and take advantage of a much needed break, but the elephant in the back of my brain keeps shouting, “you’re injured!!!” so I’m never allowed to relax.

However, I am going to listen to the professionals, and do my best to stay in a mental state that gives me the momentum and energy I need to heal and return to doing what I love.  What advice have you been given that has gotten you through a time in your life when you felt out of control/lost? I am a planner, and I have a bit of an impatient streak in me.  I like to know what to do, how long I need to do it, and what the result will be.  All of that is completely out the window, and I’m being forced to trust in the professionals helping me, and my ability to heal… without any expectations as to “when”. 

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” – Mary Anne Radmacher