My appointment with my voice therapist, Juliana Codino, was today, and she allowed me to speak a few short sentences.
I felt pretty nervous doing that…afraid I would do harm to my vocal cords. There isn’t any pain to talk, rather, I am just afraid to be loud and hurt myself. My tendency was to back off the volume to a whisper, but I learned that talking at a whisper is not a good idea at all…it puts way more stress on your vocal cords than a normal speaking tone. There’s a New York Times article that talks about a study my doctor, Adam Rubin MD, did that seems to prove this point.
At my appointment, I was given a vocal exercise to do 4 times per hour during my waking hours. Yes, you read that right. Professional voice users are given a pretty rigorous exercise regimen in order to bounce back from surgery. Every 15 minutes, I am to blow bubbles into a glass of water through a straw while making different tones. I timed how long the exercise takes, and it’s just a couple seconds under 2 minutes. That means, if I’m awake 16 hours per day, and am able to do the exercise as prescribed 4 times per hour, I will have made emitted sound for 1 hour 20 minutes each day. Of course, I’m not expecting to remember to do the exercise for the maximum number of times. I’m going to practice to the best of my ability. (This is where my iPhone’s timer feature is coming in handy.) If I miss a couple times…it’s ok. My therapist wants me to shoot for 4 times per hour, but if there is an hour that I can only do the exercise 3 times, I was told not to beat myself up. I’m very glad she told me that!
Juliana let me know that after a procedure like the one I had, it is protocol to allow normal conversation at week #4, so I’ve got awhile before I’ll be engaged in any normal conversation. Normal as defined by an Extrovert, that is. For the next week, I am strongly advised to reduce my talking to a bare minimum. The order is to (a) not talk on the phone unless it’s an emergency, (b) not talk amidst background noise (that includes in the car), and (c) to limit the number of words spoken as well as the duration of each interaction. Easy, huh! I almost wonder if limited talking is going to be more challenging than no talking. More will be revealed.
My exercise equipment for the next few weeks ( as pictured) is quite portable and inexpensive and consists of a partially filled water bottle, a flexible straw and a smoothie straw. Just for a little variety, I was provided with multiple colors. So far, I have placed one in my car, my office, on a coffee table in my the livingroom, on the kitchen counter, on my nightstand, and on the bathroom sink. I’m making sure that no matter where I am, my exercise equipment is no more than 10 feet away from me. Some people might call that obsessive. I call it being prepared.
I’m ending Day #11 with a very strong feeling of gratitude and a renewed sense of hope.
P.S. This blog post took a little longer to write than others due to the 2 minute breaks every 15 minutes.