Back in February I began noticing that I was becoming hoarse on a weekly basis, usually after teaching preschool music and directing our church’s 2nd and 3rd grade choir. By Thursday, I had what I affectionately called my “Thursday voice”. I thought I just needed a break to completely heal. In March, I drove down to Florida to visit my sister for a week and planned to sing at her church that Sunday morning. I was still hoarse and did not have my “singing voice” back yet. By Sunday, I could sing the song during sound check but during the hymn singing prior to my solo, I realized I was still missing a couple of the higher notes. I just had air and no sound coming out. I prayed that God would make it happen and supply the missing notes. I was singing one of my favorites which is Psalm 103:2-5. Praise the LORD, O my soul and forget not all His benefits. He redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion. He satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles’. My sister, Amy, accompanied me beautifully on the piano, which is a treat in itself. I sang and God gave me every note in the song. To Him be the glory. By the end of the service, my voice was back to the way it had been. God gave me just what was needed for the moment.
After 10 days of vocal rest (with that one exception), my voice wasn’t really in better shape than before. I was becoming concerned that I might need more than rest. The director at our preschool facility even suggested a switch: I would do the assistant director job while the assistant would teach music for me for 2 weeks to give me additional rest. My thoughts flew to nodules on my chords, surgery, botched surgery, never singing again, using my hands to lead the deaf since I could no longer sing…you know how it goes. However, my first diagnosis from the Ear, Nose and Throat doctor was that allergies were the cause of my hoarseness. Great news! I just needed allergy medication and then all would be well. The dr. saw my vocal chords and felt that allergies explained their appearance and that if I did not sing until it felt better that I would be fine.
After 1 week on the meds I began to sing and the hoarseness came back. The following week I had my next appointment with the ENT dr. at which I was getting an endoscopy. The dr. found a small nodule (callous) on one vocal chord. He told me not to sing, shout or whisper and make an appointment with another ENT dr. who is a “singer’s specialist”. Another three weeks. Good grief.
Finally, on May 17, I got great news from this new, wonderful dr. He did another endoscopy, this time with a video camera attached and we got to watch the video and he showed me that my chords were nodule-free (hooray!) but that they and the areas around them were swollen from acid reflux! He said I am free to sing and that as I make the changes he outlined my sound will become clear again. Whew!
(Here’s a shout out to my evidence girls for filling in the gaps that I left and doing an awesome job picking up the slack. It is not easy to re-learn entire songs or bits of songs in a different singing part. But they did for three events- one a full concert of songs to re-learn! You girls rock!)
So the good news for me is that I can sing without worry of damaging anything and go back to life as normal (mostly).
Here’s some of what I learned (remembered!):
My voice is a gift to be taken care of all the time. Not just when I singing but when I’m shouting at a ballgame, getting the attention of my students or just talking past the point of tiredness. I will not be taking this for granted any time soon.
God loves me. I already knew that one. But I really felt it during this upheaval of my life. I could feel it through my kind friends and family. Through my co-workers and boss. And mostly through keeping my ability to sing! I was prepared to praise Him without use of my voice if I had to, which is what I was practicing during my vocal rest. I became a very passionate mouther J during worship and surprisingly found a real connection to God that way.
God is big. I am small. His will is good and perfect.
You’ll be seeing me onstage again soon with my evidence girls. God gave the four of us such a desire to sing to Him and I’m so grateful that I get to be a part of it!