Speechless

I can’t talk. I try, but nothing comes out. And the timing couldn’t be worse.

laryngitis

I have to learn this lesson over and over again: too much stress + not enough sleep + not enough working out/yoga = getting sick. It is so natural for a type-A person like me to just want to push through, suck it up and do whatever it takes to get it all done on time…and as much as I believe in that kind of work ethic (and as much as I was taught this kind of commitment and perseverance in my Army training – which is where I believe I learned the phrase “suck it up” in the first place), I also realize that I am REALLY BAD at finding balance.

Soldiering through, regardless – I admire that kind of fortitude! I want to be like that! My hero, Ernest Shackleton, didn’t do hot yoga! Balance schmalance – what really matters is what you accomplish, the results you achieve, what you have to show for yourself at the end of the day.

Right?

And yet:

The last time I worked this hard (and stopped going to Bikram yoga), I came down with shingles; this I do not recommend to anyone.

Twice before in my life, I’ve been really stressed out and come down with horrible colds and lost my voice; also not fun, and totally counterproductive when one is touring in a band as a singer.

This week, after all the craziness of the NAMT Festival and my kickstarter campaign (during which I was doing no yoga and not eating or sleeping very well), I flew back to NYC to do a few days of rehearsal for our ERNEST SHACKLETON LOVES ME reading, which is happening tomorrow (now today!) – Monday, November 10. The rehearsal schedule was very tight because Lisa (our director) wasn’t available until Friday, and Wade (who plays Shackleton) wasn’t available AFTER Friday due to his five-show weekend performing in WICKED on Broadway…so we only had one day to rehearse the new rewrites all together.

So of course, I spent Thursday feeling worse and worse, steadily losing my voice until by the middle of the night when I got up for water, I could barely make a sound.

Friday’s rehearsal turned into Rachael our company manager’s finding me an ENT doctor (which was quite a feat – apparently everyone in New York is losing their voice!), and my spending the afternoon going to the Upper East Side and having my vocal cords scoped by the genial, bow-tie-wearing Dr. Joshua Levinger of Weill Cornell.

The good news was that I DIDN’T have: cysts, polyps, nodes, hemorrhages or other vocal horrors. But I DID have “remarkable inflammation” and laryngitis. And what one does about that is:

  1. take prednisone for 5 days (steroids, glorious steroids!).
  2. do not sing, talk or whisper.
  3. hydrate like crazy.
  4. continue taking cough meds and inhale lots of steam.

What one does NOT do is soldier on through; and this has been the hardest thing for me to accept. I believe in being really prepared, and this is an important reading – and we haven’t run it through together with our director yet, even once. This gives me hives; and even so, this was the right course of action, the only possibility given the circumstances. (As Shackleton would say, “New goal!” My new goal is to be able to produce some sort of vocal sound tomorrow.)

And so, my friends, I have had a rather lonely but effective couple of days – possibly my most solitary experience ever in New York City – hiding away with my prednisone and my humidifier and my tea with honey and speaking to NO ONE.

No idea whether I can make it through a sound check, rehearsal and TWO performances tomorrow…but I will do my level best.

And I resolve, again again again, to take better care of myself.

As Veterans Day approaches, I am reminded that the incredibly valuable lessons I learned in the Army about discipline and perseverance still hold true – but so do their flip sides, the lessons I am still struggling to learn about balance, easing up and letting go.

I’ll report back after the reading.

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