Why I won’t Be Calling You

My surgery was one week ago! I made it through my week of silence with very few slip ups. I’m quite pleased with myself, actually! I went back to the hospital for my post-op appointment today. I was so excited about the prospect of speaking again that I could hardly sleep last night. I had a whole list of phone calls I was going to make: “Aren’t you excited to hear my voice again?”

At the doctor’s office, the speech pathologist warmed me up with a few very light vocal exercises, mostly involving humming. Then the doctor did a stroboscope (it’s gross. They lube up your nostrils and then stick in a long, thin camera) to get a view of the vocal cords. Good news: though the cords are swollen and bruised, they seem to be healing according to plan. Also – the polyp isn’t cancerous! Yay!

First hearing myself speak was… strange. After not talking for so long, I felt somehow shy, and certainly afraid of doing damage to my healing cords by speaking too much. I also really don’t sound like myself. Not hoarse anymore, but oddly high pitched, and definitely strained.

After receiving a fact sheet about how much to start speaking, I realized that my expectations were TOTALLY unrealistic. I am disappointed about how much I actually get to speak:

post op visit (today):  5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the afternoon
2nd day: 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the afternoon
3rd day: 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon
4th day: 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes in the afternoon
5th day: 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon
6th day: 2-4 hours total spread over the day
7th day: 4-6 hours total spread over the day
8th day: add 1/2 hour per day to the total talking time.
Also, here are some restrictions:
  • no phone use until 3 weeks after surgery (ah. If I told you I would call you today – and you aren’t my Dad or fiancé – sorry. I lied.)
  • no yelling, singing, throat clearing, talking for long periods without a break, heavy lifting, strenuous exercise (there goes personal training)
  • no caffeine or alcohol (screwed that up yesterday with my iced coffee….)
Now that my first day of talking is nearly over, I have a few reflections. First of all, the thing that makes me most emotional is how long I have to wait until I can start singing. I am so sad! I love singing. I miss singing. I have to wait for another month, probably. Secondly, although I was extremely disappointed by the talking restriction, at the end of the day it seems like the right thing to do. I mean, my voice is really tired, and I’ve only talked for 10 minutes today. I think if I jumped right back in, I would not have been a very happy camper. Finally, I’ve been thinking about relationships – how much communication is important to feed and nurture our relationships, and how lucky I am to have surrounded myself with people who I can rely on. I have all these amazing people in my life! They are willing to make do with my whiteboard and silly pantomimes. I miss talking and sharing verbally – but I know that’s coming. It just will take a little time.

Day 4: don’t talk to the dog

Before I start complaining, I should say that I am starting to feel better. I’m really glad I’ve had the time I need to rest and recover – the process has been harder than I thought it would be (not that I didn’t have my anxieties about it…).

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That being said – it is really hard not to talk. I mean, I haven’t wanted to because my tongue and throat are very swollen and tender – but it’s just so hard to keep myself from accidentally saying things. This morning, after J left for work, the dog started barking at something. Still sleeping, I responded how I normally would: “it’s ok, Molly!” And then I realized I wasn’t supposed to talk. I did it again later when I was sleeping on the couch and invited the dog up to cuddle. Ack!

I’m totally freaked out about damaging my voice even more. I know a few little slip ups won’t be the end of the world… I’m so afraid that when I do start talking again next week I still won’t sound like myself.

I tried eating solid foods today – roasted sliced potatoes. My tongue is still really numb and sore. Eating was quite painful. I may go back to liquids for another day – I am just so sick of ice cream!

Day 3

I identify with this:

Surgery and recovery have been much more painful than I expected. I am grateful for pain medication, though. Yep, pain meds and ice cream.

Here’s what I remember:

On Monday, we got up really early to head to the hospital. I waited for a long time to get checked in, and then all the sudden I was lying in a hospital bed in one of those gowns. The nurse brought over a nice, warm blanket. I also had to wear a blue hair net thing. They put in the IV and right away I felt calmer – I guess in addition to the anesthesia they give you something to help calm down. J waited with me and held my hand until it was time – and then I got wheeled in my bed to a bright, white operating room. I got really scared then – it was so white, and there were a lot of people in the room. I think I counted 6 or 8 people (the surgeon, and resident, 2 anesthesiologists, a nurse, somebody watching the procedure on a computer, and a partridge in a pear tree). It all started going very quickly – they were all rushing around and getting ready, they moved me to a table and buckled me in, strapped things on my legs. The nurse held my hand and then they gave me some oxygen…

And then I woke up, I was coughing and hyperventilating and crying, and the nurse said it was from the anesthesia. They gave me more oxygen and I was able to calm down. And then J was in the recovery room, and after a while we got to go home. He did a very good job helping me stay calm, hydrated, and medicated.

These last few days have been pretty foggy. I’ve been taking pain meds to deal with the discomfort, but that makes me really groggy and tired. I’ve been sleeping a lot and watching the Olympics. My dad was here yesterday and we watched (/slept through) 10 episodes of Arrested Development. I’m taking a break from pain meds right now to write this – but I can still feel the affects (I’ve never been a great speller…).

Not talking has been pretty tough – we all make so many involuntary noises. I mean, when you’re watching women’s gymnastics and Jordyn Wieber doesn’t make it to the all-around, you have to react somehow! I held it together, but I definitely let an “oh!” slip out. Also, there was that time I spilled soup all over the floor. I also caught myself making noises in my sleep – I’m so paranoid about not talking that I woke myself up and clapped my hand over my face to stop myself from speaking.

Thanks to everybody (SO MUCH) for all the texts, presents, and support. It really means so much to me – you’re helping me get through this. I haven’t been up to much, but hopefully soon I’ll be coloring away.

I haven’t really had much interaction with the outside world – one funny thing happened, though. When C’s delivery of balloons and a teddy bear arrived, J told the delivery man I couldn’t talk. And so then the delivery man stopped talking to me… it was like he thought I couldn’t hear him. Very strange.

Anyways. It’s back to the couch for me. I’m really exhausted.

 

 

 

Ready, Set, Operate: 7 days of silence

Hi Friends! I haven’t written in this blog in a while, but it seems like the appropriate place to  write about this life-event. You see, I am scheduled for surgery on my vocal cords tomorrow. This pretty much explains everything:

Since I won’t be able to talk for seven days after the surgery (yikes!) in order to help the cords heal with minimal scarring, I thought that writing in my blog about my experience would be helpful (cathartic for me, anyways). I imagine that it could be frustrating not to be able to speak! I’m not supposed to make any noises, including whispering (which apparently can be more damaging than speaking) or laughing. I have no idea how I’m going to manage that one…

Although I am nervous for the surgery (I’ve never really had surgery before. Do wisdom teeth count?), I am actually looking forward to the end of this process. It’s been incredibly frustrating – my voice breaks and I really can’t sing these days, which has been emotional and sad. Mostly, I am thankful to have a way to make it better (and I am vindicated! It’s not allergies! It’s not acid reflux! There really is something wrong with my voice!). I am definitely scared that something is going to go wrong and I won’t ever be able to sing again! The good news is that many singers and actors have this kind of surgery, and it has a very high success rate (Julie Andrews aside). I’ll also have some vocal therapy afterwards – apparently this damage often comes from speaking.

Ok! Here goes. Wish me luck!

Resolutions

Well, it seems I’ve returned to my blogiverse – I’m not sure why I’ve had so much trouble keeping up lately.

Well, that’s not entirely true.

You see, I’ve fallen into a pit. You know – the pit of being really busy. I think we all fall into that pit sometimes. Between work, working out, cooking, and being the social butterfly that I am – well, I seem to have forgotten about all this. It’s a shame, though. Writing feels so good. Doesn’t it just feel good to use your brain a little, to look around, take stock, and reflect on what you see? That’s usually how I feel – and yet, once again, I have put it off.

During the transition to the new year, I got to thinking about resolutions. It’s inevitable – it’s like resolutions are in the air around us, as magazines and Facebook statuses swirl with ambitions and hopes for the new year to come. I’ve always wondered why we have this tradition of making resolutions at the start of the year. I mean, on the one hand, it’s fairly obvious: a new calendar year, a chance to remake ourselves, to think that we’re really going to do it this time. I think that I have made the same damn resolution for 10 years in a row. But that’s because the resolutions I make are not realistic. It’s always like “starting today, I’m going to be a better person.” What does that even mean?! I – we all – set ridiculous expectations for myself sometimes. It’s only human, I think, to want to be the best that we can be. But sometimes the best we can be doesn’t feel like it measures up. Which brings me to the other hand: it’s seems so empty, to make these promises to ourselves that we can’t/don’t follow through with. We were watching football (well… I wasn’t…), and a news update popped up announcing some absurd statistic of people who made resolutions and proclaimed that they had already broken them by the next day.

I recently came across this article in the New York Times. It’s about how hard it is to lose weight, and includes a study of people who were successful on an extremely restrictive diet (500 calories a day). They lost 30 pounds in a matter of weeks. And then, surprise!, they gained it all back. This drives me crazy. Crazy! Real change, real self improvement, is a long process. Nothing happens over night. Real change – whether the goal is losing weight or reading more or whatever – is hard and requires time, commitment, and a little self love.

I have goals, goals that I have thought about long and hard, and that I work very hard to reach. I’m not perfect, and sometimes I am more successful than others. January 1st was a week ago. And for the first time in a very long time, I did not make any resolutions. And damn it, it felt good.

A Thanksgiving Post

Thanksgiving is such a great holiday. It forces us to take time out of our busy lives and really think about the things we are thankful for – cliche though that may be. It’s a great prompt, and I think that during the rush of our daily lives we don’t really hold on to feelings of gratitude (I don’t, anyways – not regularly). It is easy to get caught up in the not-so-good stuff and forget about all of the amazing things we do have. So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful that I have this day to spend with friends and family, and that I have the opportunity to reflect on my life (which is really pretty great, I have to say).

There are so many things to be thankful for – here are some of the things I am grateful for:

  • Health, and the ability to work on my fitness
  • Family and friends – I can’t wait to see everybody soon!
  • A wonderful and caring partner ❤ 
  • A silly dog
  • A beautiful apartment and a really cool mural
  • A job I like (I know, it’s amazing!)
  • Books and games

And there’s so much more, it almost seems silly to list everything out.

What are you grateful for?

Well hello there!

I know, I know! I’ve been a bad blogger. It seems like I go through phases – reflective and active. And sometimes I forget to write (oh and think) while I’m super busy. I actually think that this would help manage my stress – I fin that writing and talking are how I am best able to process what’s going on. Some people process very differently (like J. For example)- but for me, words explain how I feel.

Some big things have happened. I was so busy writing about my race that I Forgot to mention that J. And I moved in together. Moving two people was tough- but I love our home together! It wad definitely a process, involving not only unpacking and decorating and buying, but also some internal adjustments about what it means to share a space with a partner. Though things come up (and really, things cone up throughout life- there are always things that need figuring out!) it really feels like home. And I love that. Do you know that song, “Home is wherever I’m with you?” yeah. Like that 🙂

I also started a new job. It doesn’t seem so new now, buy it’s really only been a few months! Many of you probably already know that I was pretty miserable in my job last year. It was really hard, and I felt helpless and weak and hurt. It took a long time, but I finally worked up the courage to just quit. And then I found a new job, and it’s been an exciting whirlwind!

A lot has been going on. As I write, I’m sitting on a plane, waiting for take-off. Like I said, I’m a busy girl. Anyways, I’m looking forward to more writing and reflection.