Today I am especially grateful for my voice. Ever since I can remember, I have loved singing. Growing up I sang wherever we were driving to, whatever the radio was on (usually country and when I was younger – radio disney), I sang in the shower and I sang with friends and family whenever the opportunity presented itself. However somewhere along the road of growing up it slowed up. I became self-conscious and nervous about singing in front of others, especially when so many of my friends were in choir and had beautiful voices. I am not really sure why I never even auditioned. I guess I was too into sports, or was afraid of rejection. Either way I am not really sure. My voice just seemed to disappear.
Especially after the accident. I became rather soft-spoken and kept to myself. Well that was at the beginning. Then once I started attending a few classes at my university, I found myself talking a little bit more. Over time, I have found myself able to talk to almost anyone and not feel as nervous. I remember meeting some lady for a meeting at my university and as I was telling her everything going on in my life (kind of like a progress report), she waited until I finished to say that she remembered me a year before being so quiet and shy. It was pretty interesting to hear that even though I thought I was stepping out of my bounds, I was still coming across so introverted. Anyway, I wanted to share about how the first semester that I took classes I began to experience laryngitis without cause almost every weekend. It was so bad that I sometimes wouldn’t be able to talk when I got to class or when I got home. It became a hassle and struggle without cause (or so I thought). Let me just be clear: I was not screaming or going places where it was super loud so I should NOT have been losing my voice.
Back to the story. Finally after weeks of losing my voice, I was seeing my ENT doctor for a check up, post surgery. I just so happened to have a rather hoarse voice that day. So I told my ENT about the odd case of my missing voice. Without doubt, he shared that I probably had vocal nodules or vocal nodes and potentially acid reflux. Quickly, he ran a scope down my nose into my throat and showed my parents what my vocal chords looked like which was not good. Thankfully, the nodes were also not as bad as they could have been. The next step was being sent to voice doctor who specialized in helping people like me who had vocal nodes. I was then sent to speech therapy to learn how to talk properly. Special words to use that do not cause as much strain on the chords and how to breathe properly. It was definitely interesting to learn more about how to solve my voice problem. However, it was so frustrating! I guess the biggest challenge was the fact I couldn’t sing. I was supposed to avoid it as much as possible. Talk about STRUGGLE! Especially in driving in the car by myself. It was upsetting.
Although my voice has healed up for the most part, I do periodically still go through episodes of voice strain or lose, however now I know the strategies and have a back up game plan on how to help my throat and chords feel better quicker. More recently I have found myself singing more and more. I am enjoying the music running through my head and allowing it to come out. Caring less about if my voice actually sounds good, and just going for it.
I have been finding out just how special each individuals voice is and singing has been a great opportunity to connect to others. Back at the beginning of the semester there was one night while serving the homeless where we found this lady who liked country music. I quickly broke into Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and then it turned into a singing fest with my peers (the other students in our group) and these two homeless people. What the most amazing thing was, was when we started singing “Don’t Stop Believing” and there was this moment of connection. It was as if every barrier that separated us from each other. It was incredible!
And on another note, I remember when I was in Israel one of the guys on my trip told me that my voice was almost calming and rather soothing. Since then other people have told me that as well! It still surprises me to hear that and makes me really grateful for my voice.