Thursday, February 4, 2010

Speak for yourself

'Cause I sure can't!

Sad Clown Warning! Proceed with caution.

Day 9 after having surgery and I am still sans voix. Well, I shouldn't say completely sans; I have a sort of raspy laryngitis-sounding whisper going on. It's not at all the Kathleen Turner-sexy voice that I was hoping for when they told me that a rare potential complication of my surgery is damage to the vocal cords. In fact, this isn't sexy at all - it kinda sucks and I'm getting darn sick of it.

I'm not a quiet person; I have a quick wit and love to crack jokes and I just love to talk, in general. Although I'm not a good singer I do it all the time - I sing along with the car radio, I sing in the shower, I do karaoke for the comic value alone, I sing with my family when we play Rock Band. Not being able to sing "Twinkle Twinkle" with my son or "Happy Birthday" to my husband is really cramping my style.

Will this be the event that finally sends me crying to my doctor, begging to be medicated? I thought I might need something after my dad died last May, but I managed to pull myself out of that emotional nosedive over these past 8 months. Then my cancer came back, but I still did okay - I am an optimist! I keep my chin up. I show weakness only to my inner circle of confidantes and even then, sparingly. Nobody needs a buzzkill friend when they've all got their own problems, after all.

But this, well. This is just BULLSHIT. This is just a clear-cut case of insult being added to injury. The good news is that my scar looks great! It's healing fast and honestly, I'm just so pleased with how it looks. The bad news is that sometime during the 90 minutes that I was under anesthesia, my left vocal cord went all prima donna on us and is now paralyzed.

My ENT confirmed the left vocal cord paralysis on Tuesday, which was a super fun experience, lemme tell ya. First he had me stick out my tongue as far as I could so he could grab it with gauze and hold it there, then he stuck a mirrored scope down my throat until my gag reflex kicked in (hey fellas, wussup) while I did my best to say, "heeeeeeeeeee." The doctor's defeated-sounding, "Huh," told me everything I needed to know.

I hate it when doctors say, "huh."

"Great news! We got all the cancer out! Bad news - now you're partially mute."

He wants to see me again in 3 weeks to check on them. There's a very good chance that the paralysis will spontaneously resolve on its own, so that is the hope I hang my hat on every day. I don't even want to think about what happens if they don't bounce back.

I'm finding myself saying no to plans with friends because it's just too much effort to be heard, and I'm embarrassed that every time I open my mouth I sound exactly like what I've never wanted to feel like: a sick person. I feel fine! I am fine!

A couple of interesting facts about having no voice:

1. even though I tell people that I can't talk they're still shocked when they call me (!) and can't hear me.

2. People tend to whisper back to me in conversations, which I find funny. Conversely, they yell at me or exaggerate their words. There's nothing wrong with my hearing, folks, so no need to shout!

3. Everyone from the check-out girl to every coworker in my office looks at me like I've sprouted a second head when I croak at them, which means that I spend a lot of time explaining my hoarseness. Well, I don't explain, really, I just mumble something about having been sick or having a problem with my voice until they leave me alone. But still, annoying!

It's amazing how quickly my children have adjusted to my little problem. Even my 2 year old knows that he has to come close to me if he wants to hear the answer to one of his questions. My 6 year old does the same thing, even going so far as to repeat my quiet responses to my husband for me like some kind of human megaphone. My husband is learning - slowly - that he cannot toss a question over his shoulder as he walks out of the room and expect me to call out the answer. Deafening silence is a good teacher, apparently.

So, that's where I am today. I'm getting used to being a low-talker for the time being, maybe forever (but I refuse to believe that). I'm trying not to feel sorry for myself and am succeeding most of the time, and one of these days I'm going to talk someone into wearing a puffy shirt on national television and it will make it all worthwhile.

Well, at least that's what television has taught me.

There, that fulfills my monthly quota for bitching & moaning, I presume. I promise to have something more entertaining for you tomorrow!

Quietly yours,


Liz Tee said...

Sucks. Just sucks. Fingers crossed for good news next visit....

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

You know the best, all natural cure for a paralyzed vocal chord, don't you?

If not, you should ask your husband.

He'll tell you.

*wiggles eyebrows*

*whispers* Hot tea.

Whoa. By the look on your face, I can see that you weren't thinking of the same thing I was thinki--oh my word! You're a pervert.

Stacie's Madness said...


I had no idea...{hugs}

one thing that I do when my kids have sent me over the edge of insanity (which isn't a very far fall) is I lower my much so that they have to get close to me to hear my words...and that's when I grab them by the shirt and give them the evil eye talkin to...

MtnMama said...

Darling Bev, I truly believe this will resolve itself. Your body has already done such a fantastic job of being strong for you.
However, I have had laryngitis a few times, and I know EXACTLY what you mean about other peoples' response to you. I'd be tempted to print out a little creatively edited blurb on 3x5 cards to hand out with a scary smile to those who are too slow to understand. And carry around a little white board to spare yourself the strain of repeating that which doesn't bear repeating.

Your kids crack me up, though. They're the best.

Bev said...

Liz - I agree, and thanks. Your first comment here too - yay! Thank you.

Jenksy - ha!! Ya' got me. I was definitely NOT thinking about tea. ya perv. ;) Thanks for the laugh.

Stacie - Ya know, that's the only good thing about getting 'em close enough to see the whites of their eyes.... good call!

MtnMama - Thank you for believing that my bod can do it! I believe it too. I only have to look at this gorgeous scar to know that it's working hard right now, and I am trying to respect it.

LOVE your ideas! I have the "scary smile" down pat.... :)

Samsmama said...

Dammit, Bev! It makes me feel so bad that even when you are posting about being down I find myself laughing out loud!

Whenever my dad calls and the baby is napping I answer in a whisper. And he whispers back. Cracks me up. And there are certain words that my husband spells in front of Sam. I've recently realized he spells them when Sam isn't around, too. Or when we're on the phone.

And let me go Seinfeld on you for a minute. The other day on FB my brother (I pray) jokingly posted about being happy that Jersey Shore was getting renwed. I replied, "Where's the 'gay' button?" His friend commented, "Not that there's anything wrong with that." I was in freaking hog heaven! And it just went on from there; puffy shirts, double dipping, mastering your own domain...oh, the fun we had! And all the while I thought of you.

Alright, sorry for the absurdly long comment. I'd stick around but I need to go put some lotion on my lobster cracking hands. I'm so sick of the cold!

calicobebop said...

Damn Bev, that just sucks. I sure hope that your voice makes it's way back home. Wish I had something clever or witty to cheer you up - but I can only sympathize. Glad to hear your kids are adapting well!

Heidi Renée said...

Look alive, left vocal cord! You've got some karaoke to do!

Elliott said...

What? Could you speak up a little?

Maybe they can fit you with a bionic vocal cord if little lefty doesn't wake up soon. Or you can get one of those little neck things like the guy at my Target. Who needs inflection?

And yes, I'm sure there's an official name, not 'neck thing', but honestly, I don't know what to Google even to get close.

tracey said...

well that sucks. my husband felt cheated - i was quiet for 2 days then back to normal. he'll be jealous when i tell him.

hope that left chord decides to come back . praying.

Salt said...

You need a manual or some sort of sign to carry around that you can just hand to people so you don't have to keep explaining yourself.

THIS SUCKS, BEV!!! (I'm sure you realize that.) I'm sending you lots of vox vibes and I hope your next Doc visit goes better. Come on, left vocal cord! You can do it!

By the way...sad clown scares me a little, but he looks like he might be hot without all that makeup on.

Frank Irwin said...

Sorry to hear about that, Bev, I hope it comes back around soon.

In the meantime, try some shots of helium. People may still have trouble hearing you, but at least you'll sound funny.

LenkaLovee said...

oh wow. that's horrible!! i hate it when my voice sounds weird when I'm sick, but i can't image what it feels like to possibly talk like that forever! i do hope it goes back to normal! :) i'm so glad that they got all of the cancer though!! that's awesome! :)

Bev said...

Samsmama - Yay! I'm glad you laughed. If I can make you laugh, my day is complete. :)

That spelling thing doesn't work forever, btw, and don't count on the kid to tell you when he learns how to spell well enough to decode the grown-up speak. Smart little snoops!

I think I need to go befriend your brother now....

Calico - thanks for the sympathy!!

Heidi - You tell it! Maybe the damn thing will listen to you. It's been thoroughly ignoring me, but then again, it PROBABLY CAN'T HEAR ME. ;)

Elliott - I would LOVE a bionic vocal cord! I would also HATE a tracheotomy & Stephen Hawkings-esque voice moderator. Pass.

Tracey - Would you believe that after 7 (or 8? 8.) surgeries I never had a problem with my vocal cords? Even after two neck dissections! Guess it was just my turn.

Salt - Thanks, girly! I am definitely thinking of printing up some business cards to hand out the curious annoying people - something along the lines of, "My left vocal cord is a pissy bitch, now eff off and let me buy my groceries in peace!"

Too harsh?

Frank - Yes, because having a hilarious voice is on the top of my list right now. I'm really just annoyed that this problem puts a damper on my Lady Gaga impersonation tour. Damn it.

Also, your avatar ROCKS. Have I mentioned that yet? 'Cuz it does.

Lenka - Hey, thanks for visiting & for the comment!! I agree, the bright side is very bright indeed. I will focus on it as best I can.

onebadmamajama said...

I'm sorry to hear about your vocal cord woes:( How awesomely sweet that your little men are helping mom out:)

I agree with the whole card thing. Make them your own and go nuts with witty, sarcastic sayings! That was the first thing I thought of while reading your post..although as usual, I was just a tad late to the party LOL

I have faith that everything is gonna be fine and this, too, shall pass!


Jillinator said...

OMFG Bev... that just SUCKS. I'm sending good thoughts about the spontaneous recovery - but if not soon enough for you, I'll do my best to not be one of the shouters or whisperers. ugh.
On the other hand... the whispery voice wasn't as non Kathleen Turner as you said... I think it's better than you're allowing yourself to feel it is right now. As a non-stop talker I can feel for you about not being able to get your point across as easily as you're used to. You've been through a lot this year and probably your body just needs a little extra time to jump back. ((hugs))

Brooklyn ML said...

Keep up with the positive thinking, dear Bev, I think it's working. I bet your voice comes back good as new. Love!

dogimo said...

A great-looking scar is a rare blessing, though. I hope that vocal cord wakes up on its own! Have you tried guided holistic self-visualization meditation techniques? An herbal poultice? Throat candles? The power of prayer? The placebo effect?

Whatever does the trick, I hope the trick does indeed get done - and you're back singing again before you know it!

Kate said...

I could think of nothing witty or helpful to say (that hasn't already been said, but I do loves me some Bev,) so I will just leave you with this:

word verf: suppilik

Mmm hmmm, suppilik.

Mala said...

Maybe your VC is just on hiatus and when it comes back you'll be some sort of karaoke goddess. You'll then find yourself with a cult-like following and an album released by Christmas.
It could happen.

Until then, I'll continue to communicate with you via text and ESP. It's always worked for us in the past.