Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Hoarse Whisperer

Last week I went to the doctor here. I liked her fine - even though the whole process was a nightmare and took, I kid you not, almost three hours! I could bore you with the details of the visit but I won't. Instead I'm going to bore you with the details of what happened AFTER the visit. My new doc suggested I get a flu shot while I was there. Ok. One less medical thing to do later, right? (For the record, I do usually get flu shots since my kids are asthmatic. We've never before had any problems.) It might be more clear cut if I could tell you that mere hours after the vaccination, I had flu symptoms. That's not what happened. (Although the one time Bet got a flu shot, that's what happened to her - so she is definitely not pro-vaccination.)

What happened to me is that I got home and felt fine. I continued to feel fine except for a tightening in my throat which turned into a weird scratchiness. I had no fever, no aches and pains, not even a sore throat. What I did have was a voice that started dropping octaves. Then I had a voice that was somewhat intermittent. By Saturday morning, I had no voice whatsoever. My children, who already use the fact that they didn't hear me as an excuse not to do their chores, rejoiced. My dog got a little clingy. He's used to me talking to him all the time and I think he was worried he'd done something wrong. Linus, who is also used to me talking to him all the time, has had to try to decipher my croaky crackliness over the phone because he's in San Francisco for the week (lucky duck!). Every day I think my voice will be back today for sure and it keeps not happening. How long should I wait before legitimately worrying that I have some rare throat disease that has stolen my voice and has no intention of ever, ever bringing it back? Should I admit that words like "throat cancer", "nodules", and "polyps" have already been floating around in the worry closet that is my brain? Other words - more sensible and likely words like, say, "laryngitis" were harder to come up with on Saturday afternoon as Bet and I sat around discussing my condition. (She was talking. I was merely able to mouth words, but you get the idea.) I could not think of the right word for losing your voice. I kept coming up with words that I knew weren't right. Linoleum, for instance. The only medical word I could think of was amnesia. Bet was having the same trouble - the only word she could come up with was horseradish. We decided that that is what I must have: amnesia horseradish. It is perhaps a more amusing and comforting diagnosis if you happen to have been self-medicating with one (or three) of Bet's kickass hot toddies.

Sadly, hot toddies are far less practical at 9 am on a weekday. Hence the encroachment of scary thoughts like, "What if I'm stuck like this? What if I can't ever speak again?" I've thought about calling the doctor (or possibly emailing her), but I'm conflicted about that. What if she wants to give me another shot?!


Tau Central said...

Somebody is in SF for the week? Near us? Hint, hint. :-) -rrk

Lilymane said...

R & S -
Yes - but it wasn't ME!! Ok, ok, I really would have been willing to share him but he was at some insane conference where he worked hours and hours and then had to "schmooze" for even more hours afterwards. I don't feel really sorry for him - after all he was in SF - but he had zero free time. I however, will be there in July (if not before) and then again in September (for the triathlon!) So pencil me in! Love, Lilymane

JTM said...

Right before I met St. Ann I had surgery to remove a vocal nodule.

The surgery wasn't bad. The worst part of the whole ordeal was the multiple times I had to get what I called "The Brain Scan". The Brain Scan is this tiny camera and light attached to this flexible wire. They lube it up, and shove it right in your nose and down your throat. Think "Fire in the Sky" meets Steve Martin's masochistic dentist from "Little Shop of Horrors".
They gave me some BS line about getting the best visual of my vocal chords...but I know they just liked to see me incredibly uncomfortable.
Anyway, to this day I can't get a sore throat without reliving the whole thing all over again...

Lilymane said...

Ewww! Just what I needed - more fodder for the anxiety closet! We're going to have to have some industrial strength hot toddies if the word "nodule" is brought up again, eh?