7:30 AM. As good a time as any to blog about how much I hate swelling tests.
No, actually, that’s not really fair. The swelling tests—which comprise singing “Happy Birthday” very high and soft (so that the “to” lands on a high C# or D, if I’m lucky) and doing high pianissimo staccati—are very important and useful. The reason I hate them is because my cords are always swollen. And whose fault is that?
Mine, much as I would like to pin it on somebody else. I talk too much. I talk too quickly. I probably don’t talk properly half of the time. My practicing is inefficient. I sing in my apartment when I’m doing the dishes, and in the shower, and at barbecues while I’m waiting for the grill to heat up. I clearly haven’t figured out how to have a social life and not ravage my vocal cords.
This is not to say that my voice isn’t functional this morning (look, there’s the word that inspired the title of this entry). Actually, if I tried to sing, it would probably be just fine, and certainly clearer and easier than it ever was before the surgery. But now that I’ve tried to do swelling tests and utterly failed at producing satisfactory results, I’d feel pretty guilty if I practiced. All I can think about is what my cords looked like the last time I got scoped, and the doctor’s voice telling me that my cords were healthy, but a little swollen, so this should be a warning to me to be more careful.
This is the kind of thing that stresses me out to the point of wanting to change my career path and go into academia (I was a very passionate musicology minor in college). I know plenty of people who have never done swelling tests. Most people who have never dealt with vocal cord injuries or problems have no idea how to check to see if their cords are swollen. And I know that the fact that I had nodes probably means I’m susceptible. But it makes me nervous, and anxious about the future. If I decide to pursue opera seriously, will I be spending all of my time alone, worrying about my vocal health? Sometimes it hardly seems worth it.