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I Pulled My Vocal Hammy

About 5 years ago I lost my voice as the result of a cold. My doctor took me off work for a week (which turned out to be a 2 week break from teaching because it backed the February break). She told me at the time that the voice is very delicate and that if you don't let it entirely heal it will start to take less and less to injury it. Makes sense, but I hadn't ever thought of my voice like a pulled hammy before.

I hadn't had any problems with my voice until sometime in this past spring. I remember blogging about it, but am too lazy to go searching for the post. I lost it again this fall and it has never gotten totally better.

Dozens of times I have had people give me sympathy about the terrible cold I must have when in fact I was perfectly healthy. It was just my voice that sounded awful. My voice sounds hoarse, especially at the end of the day. If I even get a sniffle it sounds REALLY bad. Sometimes it feels like work just to talk. And to top it all off I have a sore throat basically every night.

I went to my family doctor and she referred me to the ears, throat, and nose guy (sorry, I don't know his official title and if I was too lazy to look up one of my own posts, I'm definitely too lazy to look up that) and I met with him today. I suffered through an excruciating experience that involved a not-so-small tube being put up my nose and down the back of my throat. I was so ready to pass out and/or puke when he removed the tube that I am having a hard time putting together what he said.

Here is what I think I heard:

1.  The vocal cords are strained.
2. Could have been caused by exertion (i.e. projecting my voice in the classroom) or acid reflux (I don't know what this is, so I am pretty sure that wasn't it).
3. I have to meet with the Dr. and a speech therapist to come up with a plan.
4. The speech therapist may decide I need a sound system in my class (I had one for 3 years and they are marvellous - think Britney Spears dressed in business casual minus the huge snake).
5. The therapist might think I need some time off of work to heal it.

She what?

Honestly, I knew point 5 could be a possibility going into this. . . my past experience topped with knowing a teacher who had to cut back her work schedule because of her voice . . . but I hadn't prepared myself that it could actually happen.

I was bummed out. I love teaching. Who wants to be off work because of their voice?

For now they gave me a list of things to do to help my voice heal. So for the next 6 weeks until I see the speech therapist I am going to be trying to drink more water, get a sounds system in my classroom without a doctor's note, and to talk more softly. If you know my family, you know we are loud talkers. The truth is I probably project my voice WAY more at home that I have to. I hate to even admit that. I can see Hugh's smirk even as I type, "oh no honey, you don't talk loud". That is dripping with sarcasm if case for some baffling reason it doesn't read that way.

On the plus side, they did a hearing test and much to Hugh's surprise everything is good on that front!


  1. Jordon,

    You saw an Otolaryngologist or an ENT. I just thought I would let you know so you don't have to waste the time looking it up!!

    I think that the mic thing sounds very cool - do you dance around and sing like Britney Spears when you classroom is empty?? I know Deena would!

    As for speaking softly you can add another time on your list where that isn't a possibility....because you are on a ball team of very loud ladies!

    Anyway - have a great week...take it easy on your voice!!


  2. I have a sound field system in my classroom and although it took me a while to get used to I sure notice a difference with how my throat feels at the end of the day! Hopefully they will find you one and you can turn it up loud so you can speak softly! Good luck!

  3. I went for years with people asking me about being sick or having a cold/cough. Even Uncle Ernie asked me about it once and stated "you didn't used to sound like that". It happened when I was coaching a lot. It is genetic and we really should try to narrow down which side the bad gene came from so we can relentlessly bug whichever parent gave us the "wimpy vocals" .


  4. Hi Jordan,
    I, too, was referred to a specialist for my hoarseness issue and the problems it was causing me to have while teaching. I know the scope procedure you are talking about. It makes me gag, just reading your description. I have a surround system in my classroom, and sip on herbal tea all day long (lots of bathroom breaks!!). I also ended up going for speech therapy to learn how to not strain my vocal cords and have such tightness when speaking...learning how to speak from a different part of my throat. It was almost like having to learn how to talk all over again...not sure I really changed how I speak as that is hard to do at this age. I also stopped screaming for my students to come in at the end of recess and purchased a megaphone.... who would have guessed that yelling for students to come in after recess twice a day could put such a huge strain on one's vocal cords? (We take recesses at our school whenever it suits our schedule and so don't have bells signaling the end of it!)
    I still find that I get hoarse when I am stressed out....I guess my tension manifests itself in my throat...tighting my throat muscles...even causing a sore throat sensation.
    It's great that you got your throat and 'voice' checked out and are taking care of you!

  5. Just for the record, I would dance and sing to Britney with or without the fancy mic.
    Keep on rocking!

  6. I used to sing, do sports and talk way too much and I repeatedly injured my vocal chords. When I taught I would lose my voice so easily. I did vocal therapy at one point and learned some things that can help. Mostly, I just need to talk quieter and less. I find it very difficult to care for my voice because "quiet" is just not a word anyone could ever use to describe me. I hope you get the sound system! If not, you could come and work at the cyber school with me:)

  7. I so hope you can get the sound field system without the note! It's crazy that we don't have more, when we consider the benefits to the students as well!!

  8. Thanks for all the support everyone! Love the comments :-)


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