Voice Updates

Warning this might be a long e-mail update! Skip to the bottom if you want to hear the silver-lining! 

So, I swallowed my pride finally, and saw a doctor. Let me tell ya, I'm certainly glad I did. 

Initially went to an urgent care, which didn't do much. They just saw me for two minutes and made a quick diagnosis of a sinus infection and laryngitis, prescribing me an anti-biotic and a steroid to hopefully reduce the swelling for a little while. 

I already had an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) appointment scheduled for two weeks out, but after waking up the following day, I realized I needed to get in sooner. I called an employee on the phone on Thursday at the end of the day, who said she would reach back out if there were any openings the following day. Sure enough, the customer service representative followed through and called back Friday morning with an appointment opening. -- Imagine that, someone with follow-through skills -- I honestly was shocked that she called back. She called me at 8:45 for a 9:30 AM appointment THAT day. 

After finding word about the appointment, I hustled to the ENT office and checked in, eagerly trying to figure out what's going on. I was introduced to Dr. Jeffrey Hall, who I quickly learned was Canadian and a previous opera singer. He was an incredibly personable guy who knew the importance of singing as a performer and a voice pathologist! After doing a quick test of my throat, they did discover a lesion (polyp) on one of my vocal cords.  --- If you want any cool pictures, I'd be happy to send...;-) --- 

We talked about strategies of what to do including voice therapy, surgery or vocal rest. He stated that therapy would not be any good at this point and suggested that "vocal rest" was the best option. If not improved, surgery may be considered, which is not the most ideal. Later in the day, I then met with an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist who confirmed the Dr. Hall's findings. Voice rest was the answer. 

This was unfortunate for a few reasons: 

1. I had a performance that night, and have several other gigs scheduled for this month as well. 
2. I'm heading to a Folk Conference this next week, which is a great opportunity for collaborating and meeting other musicians along with networking opportunities. 
3. I use my voice for my day job. 
4. I could not attend two interviews with employers because of this issue. 

It's frustrating. Singing is therapy to me. But not only that, I also realized how important verbal communication is. Last night, I still attended the gig I had to cancel. I wanted to show support but also wanted to practice not talking while being in social interactions. So, what did I do?? 

I brought my note pad...and used body language. As slow as it was to communicate, I wrote down everything I wanted to say on notebook paper and made it through the night without saying a word. Well, I'm sure a few slipped out, but I got away with not talking for MOST of the night. 

After getting used to being "silent" for a while, the weird part was that I actually kind of enjoyed it. No temptation to be the center of attention. I could just enjoy the company of others and listen while practicing more intentional body language. It also forced an element of patience on my end. If I wanted to ask a question, the important ones would stick with me, but the unimportant ones would slip away. 

Anyways, I'm still figuring this whole thing out as of now, but DO keep in mind that if I see you, most likely you will see this for the next month: 

1. I will not be talking/using my voice. (Hopefully) 

2. I will be communicating on notebook paper or text message (unless I can get a new iPad or Phone) 

3. I hope to STILL play music...but must do so by playing an instrument, not singing. 

4. I'm attempting to learn some sign language as well to potentially help with communication! 

Any prayers, thoughts or good vibes you can send me would be GREATLY appreciated. I know this will be a valuable experience for me, but it's also a tough one to accept. 

Thanks everyone for your love and support! 

Peace and love, 
Benjamin 

PS: Here's an interesting read regarding vocal issues with pop singers, specifically Adele ( which I heard a few references to already, haha) 

https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/entertainment/stars-like-adele-keep-losing-their-voices-because-theyre-singing-wrong-voice

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