For the past 20 months I have been living in fear of losing my voice. For most people not being able to talk with a clear voice is a minor inconvenience, but if you essentially make your living by talking, this is a life altering problem.
The summer before last I got a serious infection in my trachea and violently coughed for a solid month. I was so sick. I damaged my voice in the process and it hasn’t been the same since. Some days my voice is fine for the shows, while other days I struggle to get through the day.
I have been trying my hardest to avoid loud places, phone calls and crowded restaurants. I dread situations where I have to raise my voice or talk much outside of work. I am terrified of getting sick because I know it will completely wipe out my voice for an extended amount of time. I have spent so much time trying to protect my voice to make sure I could talk and do my job of telling you the weather everyday. I have done everything the doctors have told me to do.
You may have noticed, it hasn’t been working. Despite my best efforts, I keep losing my voice.
Last Monday I reached my breaking point. I had been fighting my way through a cold and sinus infection for a week. I thought my voice was going to make it through, but it was giving out fast. Even with an entire weekend of vocal rest, I barely had a squeak coming out of my mouth after the morning shows. Nothing was making it better. I felt helpless and defeated.
My doctors in Asheville have been amazing and really helped me get back to work so many times, but they are not experts in voice problems. They decided it was time to refer me to Wake Forest’s Center for Voice and Swallowing Disorders. I met with those doctors and therapists last week.
They diagnosed me with a voice disorder called Muscle Tension Dysphonia. They said the trauma of my initial sickness, the summer before last, caused my voice to not be able to deal with any sort of stress on the vocal chords. Everything from allergies to colds to high talking days could set it off.
The good news is there is no permanent damage and they expect me to be able to learn how to fully cope and deal with the problem. I am going to be meeting with their experts to work on bringing my voice back to 100%.. They are hopeful in the future that if I get a cold I should be able to not lose my voice at all or get it back in a relatively short amount of time.
In the short term I am on vocal rest. The doctors want me to stay off the air, rest and stay healthy until I work with them enough to not make my problem worse. They are hopeful that this will just be a week or two. I hope so too—I miss you guys. I love my job and it is so hard not to be able to do it everyday.
Thank you all for your support, understanding and patience with this. I am super optimistic that I am finally getting to the bottom of my voice problems. Hopefully this is beginning of the end of this “I can’t talk” chapter of my life. I’m so over it!