*insert obligatory sentence about how I don’t write often enough*
Whew, now that’s out of the way, let’s get down to more about me.
So I got sick with a cold back in June. I was determined that it was a sinus infection and I saw three separate doctors who all told me, “It’s just a cold.” What the heck do they know? I just wanted to get an antibiotic shot, but the only thing they’d shoot me up with was steroids, which barely made me feel better.
The worst part of all of this was that I lost my voice in the process. Now I’m sure not everyone would agree this is a bad thing, but I even had a manager say that I “sounded like a muppet” so I knew this wasn’t a good thing. I was in the middle of doing the craziest amount of trainings for a new product launch and I just couldn’t call out sick. It was the biggest launch we’ve ever done and people were counting on me. I wasn’t too alarmed, though, because I usually end up losing my voice at least once a year, but for some reason this time was different.
I never really got my voice back 100%. It would come back about 70%, and then I’d have a bunch of talking to do and it would go back down to 30% again. The good news is that many people told me they liked my sexy, raspy voice. Oh, and there’s no pain involved, so that part is good, too.
So I finally realized I should make a doctor’s appointment. I went on FB and asked for ENT recommendations and several people all mentioned the same doctor. Turns out I have very smart friends because this doctor cracked me up. He made it clear to me that he wasn’t going to sugar coat anything, which also meant that I instantly loved him.
My diagnosis could have been worse for sure, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. He said I have nodules and polyps on my vocal cords and said I needed to limit my talking. He also said I needed a microphone for work, and I wondered why I hadn’t thought of that before. Oh, and I could no longer take Zyrtec-D, which I thought would be the death of me, but I’ve actually been fine. He also prescribed some nose spray for my allergies, an inhaler, and delicious steroids that made me want to consume too many gummy bears.
I spent the next month with co-workers who did my trainings for me while I sat there really frustrated that I wasn’t doing my own job. But the good news is I learned a lot, even though it was pretty much impossible for me to shut up like I was supposed to.
Over the course of this month, I knew I wasn’t healing as quickly as we all wanted me to. I went back to the doctor for a follow-up appointment last Friday, and I got some good news and then just some news. So what he thought were polyps were just nodules, and apparently the main differences between the two are size, and the need for surgery. So wonderful news! NO SURGERY! (I’ve never had surgery before, so I was terrified of him telling me that I needed it.) The steroids had helped me improve a little, but I still had nodules.
Work was very aware of what was going on, and my boss had contacted HR. They sent me into this appointment at the doctor with papers in hand for me to take a medical leave if he recommended. This is the slower time for me in my job, but things will be 100mph for me starting in January, so it’s a logical time for me to rest. Still, I was really stressed by everything that was going to happen. The doctor said that this takes most adults 3 months to heal, and I just don’t have that time.
The doctor said that we need to be more aggressive and start more steroids again. And I’m not allowed to speak at all unless my life depends on it. No whispering or even laughing. I can’t use my vocal cords at all. He said he knew it would be impossible for me, but complete vocal rest was the only thing that was going to heal me. So as of last Friday, I’ve barely uttered a word.
I figured I’d chronicle how incredibly annoying and frustrating this experience has been. Sounds positive, right? Well you quit talking and let me know how wonderful it is.
One positive thing is that I have truly felt loved and supported by my friends. I asked for suggestions on what I should do to keep myself busy and I had almost 100 responses. So many incredible suggestions that I’m still trying to process it all. And the doctor said that he doesn’t want me to quit living my life, but everything is so much harder now. Still, I’ve had a TON of friends reach out to me and make me feel not so alone.
I got suggestions from a couple of friends to get a Boogie Board. This is like a digital chalkboard that is pretty cool in some ways, but I’ve learned it’s not the best to use to communicate through a meal. The best thing for me to do is just send text responses. I did laugh pretty hard the other night when I had dinner with my friend, Sugar. She was apparently concerned about her writing and grammar since she knows I’m such a nazi, but then a friend reminded her that she could actually still use her voice. She also made me some hilarious flashcards so she could easily decipher what I wanted to discuss at dinner. You have no idea how hard it is to not laugh about this still.
I had lunch with some friends yesterday and one of them said, “I’m thinking about taking a vow of celibacy, too.” He seriously meant to say silence and I had to write it out for him how he messed that up. Took everything in me to not bust out a good, hearty laugh over that one. I slapped the table a few times while his girlfriend asked him if there was anything they needed to discuss.
Today will be Sunday Funday with some friends. I’ve been sticking with one on one interactions this past week, but after lunch with two friends yesterday, I think it’ll be good for me to be with a small group and let them handle the majority of the conversation. And my hand is getting tired from writing so much.
I’ve really wanted to go out dancing, but I think that’s just too much temptation for me right now.
I also had a friend recommend I get an app that would speak for me. It’s very Stephen Hawking-esque and every time I try to use it I have to stifle laughter. It’s hilarious, but I just can’t use it.
A weird and frustrating side effect has been my inability to sleep in. You’d think not working would allow me to sleep in until at least 9am, but I’ve been up by 4am-5am every single morning….and it’s pissing me off. I know my brain is just stressed out right now, but I’m looking forward to sleeping in until 8am one day soon. Ugh. Probably the steroids.
So hopefully I’ll have many more stories on this journey of silence. This could be one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to do. I’ve had bouts of feeling sorry for myself, isolation, and borderline depression, but then a friend will reach out to me, and I realize how truly blessed I am. So I’m just trying really hard right now to focus on all the things I have to be grateful for….and there really is so much.
Stay tuned for more antics.