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Author Topic: Sans voice  (Read 4714 times)

Tom

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Sans voice
« on: May 14, 2012, 08:00:26 PM »
For our Framily singers, this was a bit of a rollercoaster ....

I haven't sung a note in almost 3 months. This started as a sinus infection and post-nasal drip, that really did some stuff to my throat. It then turned to bronchial infection (aka difficulty breathing), which also isn't good for singers.

After several weeks, and 5 courses of antibiotics, I went back to the doc and said "this is something else". He diagnosed laryngytis, prescribed a steroid treatment, and gave me a referral to an ENT doc "if it doesn't get better in two weeks". After a week and a half I realized things weren't improving, and made an appointment with the ENT Guy for last Monday.

He (the ENT guy) sprayed some anaesthetic (two different ones) up my nose, and proceeded to feed his camera into each nostril in turn. I couldn't feel anything in my nose, but I sure felt the camera going down my throat, especially when he kept asking me to make some vowel sounds and clear my throat.

The good news - it's all benign and treatable, whew! There were two things going on:

1.  The vocal chords are inflamed, for which he prescribed a steroid in a much stronger dose than my regular doc, in an attempt to "whack" it.

2.  Some residual infection that the prior antibiotics (5 courses) didn't take care of. He prescribed a different antibiotic in a stronger dose.

He asked if I get heartburn and, when I explained that I occasionally get acid reflux (while in bed), he said that was the cause of the inflamed vocal chords. He gave me a list of (dietary) things to help avoid the acid. He also gave me a list of other things to avoid, including ceiling fans, which apparently can cause irritation of the vocal chords.

A big relief for sure. I'd been going through all kinds of scenarios in my mind; I thought a lot about my first boss having his voice box removed because of "throat cancer", and how I'd explain it to the grandkids when Grandpa spoke from his stomach. I also thought about the young English singer Adele who had a benign tumor removed from a vocal chord, and she performed at the Grammys (sp?).

Yesterday was the last of the steroids, which had me dehydrated big time; I've been drinking LOTS of fluids, which has meant frequent trips to the bathroom. I sang just one song yesterday, and sang a few more today. I'm still hoping I can close out our uke show with my God Bless America solo.

Edit: Fixed typos and added a couple of things for clarification.
 
« Last Edit: May 17, 2012, 11:10:40 AM by Tom »
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Tom and Margi

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Re: Sans voice
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2012, 08:19:58 PM »
Bless you, Tom.  Losing your voice would be a huge loss to all of us who have had the pleasure of hearing you sing.
 
Margi

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Re: Sans voice
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2012, 09:01:47 PM »
I am very glad to hear your voice problems are not serious. I seem to remember a few months ago that you were bragging about not needing a microphone since your voice was naturally loud. I mentioned that it was not a good thing to do because singing loud is bad for your voice. You dismissed what I was saying. Coincidentally you are having voice problems. Now I know that your problem could be caused by other things than singing loud, however even if your problem was caused by something else singing loud would not help the situation at all. Professional singers that are concerned about the length of their careers spend at least a half an hour warming up their vocal cords by singing scales and such before a performance. Singing without warming up can lead to a disaster. Mick Jagger does an hour of scales before a performance.
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Tom

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Re: Sans voice
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2012, 09:03:43 PM »
Thanks Margi. I told the ENT Doc that I need to sing the solo to close out our upcoming show, and he asked me what we sang. When I explained, he was captivated and, when I explained that I could only mimic Tiny Tim, I got this blank stare; I said " you're not old enough to remember Tiny Tim" so I did my best to interpret him, and the Doc said "OK I got it"  ;D
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Tom

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Re: Sans voice
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2012, 09:14:09 PM »
Aye Tom, a big relief.

Quote
I seem to remember a few months ago that you were bragging about not needing a microphone since your voice was naturally loud. I mentioned that it was not a good thing to do because singing loud is bad for your voice.

Not 'bragging' per se, but I have a naturally 'loud' voice that has no trouble projecting in a large auditorium. The ENT Doc volunteered "I can see that you'd naturally boom it out with your voice", and saw no reason I should curtail my singing. Unlike other soloists, I don't expect to need a mic at our upcoming concert  ;)

Quote
Professional singers that are concerned about the length of their careers spend at least a half an hour warming up their vocal cords by singing scales and such before a performance. Singing without warming up can lead to a disaster. Mick Jagger does an hour of scales before a performance.

Aye Tom. Shirley Bassey (Welsh gal from the Tiger Bay area of Cardiff, the capital City of Wales, and singer of the Bond movie theme tune 'Gold Finger') lost her voice while performing one day. After that episode, she practiced vocal exercises for several hours each day.

Wish me luck at tomorrow (Tuesday)'s final rehearsal for our show.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2012, 09:55:35 PM by Tom »
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ArdraF

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Re: Sans voice
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2012, 11:11:46 PM »
Tom,

We're very happy to hear it's not as bad as your imagination projected!  Imaginations tend to do that, don't they?  That must have been one tough bug to have all those antibiotics and still not have it gone.  Take it easy with those vocal chords.  Well, maybe God Bless America is worth it, but cool it for a while otherwise.  We want that booming voice around for a long time!  Tell Nurse Chris I said to hog-tie you except for that one special performance!  ::)

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SeilerBird

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Re: Sans voice
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2012, 11:33:26 PM »
Tom, I know you have a naturally loud voice. However, singing loud is not good for your vocal cords whether it is natural or not.

I have sung professionally in a few bands during my life time. I used to be a natural soprano. I used to brag I could sing the highest note sung on any rock song with ease including Dream On by Aerosmith, where he gets positively operatic.  However, I did a lot of smoking in my lifetime and that has killed my ability to sing the high notes. Sometimes I go to sing a very high note and I know I will never get there so I try it one octave lower and I still can't hit it. How embarrassing, but I have no one to blame but Tommy.

Good luck on GBA tomorrow, don't forget to warm up :)
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Tom

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Re: Sans voice
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2012, 12:55:06 AM »
Thanks Ardra. It was quite a relief to hear the ENT doc say "it's benign and treatable".
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Tom

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Re: Sans voice
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2012, 09:58:08 AM »
Thanks for the story Tom.

Quote from: zzyzx
... singing loud is not good for your vocal cords whether it is natural or not.

"Natural" volume has more to do with the intrinsic characteristics of cavities in one's head and chest, i.e. the amplifier (or sound box), and how the sound resonates through/around them. Posture is about the only thing that can enhance these characteristics, and vocal coaches often use Luciano Pavarotti as the best example of good posture while singing. Yes, one can 'blow harder' to increase volume, but the cavities will be the major factor affecting intrinsic volume.

I don't attempt to scream and shout while singing but, if I did, I can see that could cause some stress, probably more to the audience than me.

Singing 'high' notes is not natural for me, at least not since my voice broke (most folks are surprised to hear I was a boy soprano), but I have been known to occasionally surprise some folks with the upper end of my range. This has more to do with the shape and tension of the vocal chords, and how the muscles vary the tension. Like a 'low' string on a uke, getting it to produce a 'high' note requires shortening the string (by fretting), or tuning it to a higher note (by tightening it and increasing the tension).

FWIW when I asked the ENT Doc if I should refrain from singing for a while, he told me that there's nothing I could do vocally that would exacerbate what's been going on, i.e. inflamation of the vocal chords caused by stomach acid; Nowt to do with stress, strain, or how loud I sing.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2012, 10:09:00 AM by Tom »
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Tom

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Re: Sans voice
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2012, 12:34:39 AM »
Contrary to the dire predictions and warnings, I received kudos from our Music Director for my solo this evening. I knew it wasn't perfect, but he specifically asked me to say a big thanks to the ENT Doc for "whatever he gave you to fix the voice".

The song has a key change part way through, and the second half is right in my natural register. I had some difficulty hitting the correct (higher) notes prior to the key change, but I have another week of recovery before show time. Overall, an effortless rehearsal, which is how I normally sing.

I'm still coming down off these darned steroids. It wasn't until this morning that I researched the side effects of this particular prescription, and that's when a lot of stuff fell into place. Side effects include significant dehydration necessitating a huge increase in water intake, continual sweating, muscle cramps, and increased appetite, all of which I immediately recognized as my symptoms for the last few weeks. It apparently takes a little time for the body to re-adjust and take over it's functions after this treatment; That's one reason for the tapering of the dose, so one doesn't suddenly fall off a cliff.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2012, 12:40:13 AM by Tom »
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Ned

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Re: Sans voice
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2012, 07:21:24 AM »
Good job, glad you're "vocal" again.  Steroids side effects can sometimes be worse than the problem they're curing.
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Tom

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Re: Sans voice
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2012, 08:26:05 AM »
Aye thanks Ned, it sure felt good to be once again doing what comes naturally, and not have to lip sync. Had I researched the side effects ahead of time, I might have been reluctant to take the steroids, but now I'm glad I did.

Now if only I could reduce the need for water intake and thereby reduce the trips to the bathroom  :-[   I normally drink a lot of water, but I've almost tripled the intake the last few weeks.

One of the guys in the band said last night "I know what you're going through". One of the ladies asked if I'd put on weight, and I pointed to my stomach; She said "I've heard that steroids cause you to put on weight in other places". I quietly ducked out of that discussion  ;D
« Last Edit: May 16, 2012, 08:32:08 AM by Tom »
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SeilerBird

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Re: Sans voice
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2012, 03:14:39 PM »
Speaking of lip syncing, I just saw the strangest case of lip syncing ever. I just bought a 4 DVD set of Elton John in concert.  On the first DVD it is a 2000 Madison Square Garden show where he sings a lot of his greatest hits. On Bennie and the Jets, which Elton recorded 26 years prior to this concert, he sings the line "you know I read it in a magazine". At the end of "magazine" his voice goes up high momentarily. Evidently Elton can no longer reach that note because he sang "magaz" live and then "ine" played from the record. I one syllable lip sync. The line gets repeated three times in the song and he did it each time. I haven't watched all of the discs yet but it will be interesting to see if there are any more notes he can't hit.

I saw Elvis live at the International in 1971 and he sang several songs where he had to sing way way down low, much lower than he could go. So he would fake the deep notes as one of his background singers did the low notes.
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