What do you do when your livelihood- your means of employment- is wrecking your body?
I am sitting in Dr. Camphos office waiting to see him for the first time ever. He is an ENT- Ear/Nose/Throat specialist. I look around the room, and see an ad stuck up on the wall behind me for Botox. Hmmm… I could use me some of that. I see that in just three injections, I will look like a younger version of myself, minus the wrinkles on my forehead and the crow’s feet framing my eyes. I had no idea how good I had it, back in the day. Or, maybe how good I had it “back in the day” gave me these wrinkles.
Dr. Camphos enters the room, and he looks a little skittish. I hate it when male doctors have a hard time making eye contact. It always puts me on edge. I am not to be undone. Whenever I am around a doctor- male or female, it matters not- I try to appear what I feel that I truly am: literate, articulate and educated. And I try not to be intimidated.
So, I am working on my routine/act today, and things are going fairly well. Dr. Camphos seems duly impressed. He knows he is not dealing with the average stuffy nose. This nose is ‘ed-u-ma-cated’. He looks up said nose. I try to remember whence last I blew. He looks in my ears (did I use q-tips before work this morning?) He looks at my throat. (I know I did not have time to brush my teeth as I ate my lunch in the truck while speedily driving the forty-five minutes to this specialist appointment.) This is getting complicated. I am totally blowing the “Ms.Totally-Together” act.
It’s not so much an intimidation factor any longer as it is a brief history of all the things I do not do to look after myself. Yuck.
He then asks about my gag reflux. And while he asks, he draws out a long, slender silver piece of tubing. It is a foot long, no word of a lie. Um, I may not have had a gag reflux before but I can almost guarantee I will have one now. He asks me to bend over at the waist and lean my chin forward. And just in case you are still unsure, this tube is to go in my MOUTH, people, not the other end. So, I lean forward, and open my mouth. And he brings out a square of gauze by which he will hold down my tongue. And then proceeds to slip that long- incredibly long– tubing down my throat.
I think I just might die. And I am certain I will end up throwing up before I do so which might break the tension in the air before I go, now that I think of it.
Long story short. I do not die. Nor do I throw up. I concentrate instead on a poster hung strategically on the wall at just the right angle for me, the one who is bent over at the waist with a tube coming out of her throat. Very attractive. Very professional-looking. I must appear to be quite pulled-together, if I might say so myself. And I allow that doctor to have the complete and utter satisfaction of saying he has gone where no one has gone before (and let’s just say that I have had the joy of experiencing a few scopes in my little portfolio of medical experiences- how fun was that…): my vocal cords.
He asks me if I speak much. Hello? I guess I forgot to include in my file that I am not a hermit. And I also get asked if I scream much on the job. HA! And just to set the record straight, I don’t. But if I did, how embarrassing is that to have to admit you are a screamer with no behavior management skills and no classroom control to boot?
My vocal cords. They are the issue here. I have been losing my voice. This is not a new phenomenom. Over the past number of years, I have struggled with projecting my voice. I am a teacher, a speaker and a singer. I need my voice. But, the very things I do to carry out my life are the things that are my undoing. I am going to have to learn how to speak and sing again, as per the ENT’s instructions. And to do so, I need Speech Pathology.
What the heck?
I am a teacher. A TEACHER. When he says this to me, I balk. I look at him as if he has two heads. I send my students in Kindergarten to Speech Pathologists. I assess their reports. I have direct contact with our school Speech Pathologist, and we will be collaborating on an upcoming workshop. Can this be true? I feel it is an affront to my profession if even I, the Kindergarten teacher, cannot speak right. But if I am to continue teaching and leading music, to therapy I must go. Doctor’s orders.
Singing and speaking are my two worst habits. And yet. They are the necessary elements of my life. But I know I am straining my voice as I teach each and every day. And this daily strain on my voice affects my singing and speaking voice outside of school. Truly, I should have been a hermit. I crave quiet and solitude and peace. And instead of experiencing any of those three in combo with one another, my life is loud, crazy and chaotic.
What’s a girl to do?