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Archive for September, 2009

I am a singer.  A pretty healthy one, at that.  I don’t call out of a show very often..the one time I did, I think I had twisted my ankle at curtain call.

I don’t follow any “routines” or curtail my lifestyle to “protect the voce”. Sometimes, it does catch up with me– the fatigue, the stress– and I find myself at less than my best.  In these cases, it was always easy to run to the EENT and get “scoped”, take a couple of anti-inflammatories or, worst case scenario, get a course of steroids to get me up and running.

This past weekend, however, life interefered with art when an intense crying jag coupled with loss of sleep caused me to wake up on the morning of a two-show day barely able to speak.  In a show with no understudies, I had no choice but to go on.  A ROCK show with no understudies. Dear Lord, that’s a story for another day. Rockin' Out

Needless to say I went balls to the wall on those two shows and woke up on the day off with absolutely nothing.  No voice and, more importantly, no health insurance (it had run out on me last June and wouldn’t be reinstated until January).  A call to the doctor connected me to a very sympathetic young man in the finance department who graciously offered to lower the self-pay fee from $1400 to $600–still much more than I could afford on an Off-Broadway Mini-Contract.

Self-medication it is, then.

I had 3 days to get back in shape before auditions on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday plus rockout shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. In the interest of helping those like myself who spent hours googling and perhaps putting out cries for help on Facebook, here is what I did:

  • Boil up a big pot of water with about a quarter cup of chopped ginger and 4 cloves of chopped garlic.  Simmer at low heat for about 15 mins.  Pour into a cup and sweeten with some organic maple syrup. Add a splash of lemon and a dash of cayenne pepper. The ginger and garlic are well-known antiseptics and anti-inflammatories. The warmth will soothe your throat and the cayenne pepper’s heat will bring much needed white blood cells to the area to help you heal faster. The maple syrup supposedly has helpful minerals, but mostly it’s just yummy. Drink this constantly throughout the day.
  • Take a teaspoonful of honey for its antiseptic properties every 4 hours. I took pine honey which is milked from the glands of aphids that infest pine trees in the Alsace region. Yum.  Eat it slowly, let it coat your throatmiel sapin
  • Steam! I harvested some thyme, oregano, rosemary and sage from my window box and put it in a bowl.  I boiled up some water and poured it over the herbs. Tented myself with a large towel and inhaled the steam until it was gone, about 20-30 mins. Thyme and sage are broncho-dilators and will help you breathe easier.  Oregano and rosemary have antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. If you don’t have fresh herbs, a handful of Italian Seasoning will do just fine.
  • Neti-pot and salt gargle. I wasn’t sure that it would help my throat seeing as it was a stress symptom and not a sinus symptom, but better safe than sorry.  I boiled up 4 cups of water and to that added 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and a teaspoon of baking soda.  Some people fid the neti pot gross, but I find it comforting, cleansing and invigorating.
  • Advil. I took one in the morning and one at night. Some people prefer not to go chemical, but I only had 3 days and wanted to cover all my bases.
  • Sleep. I tried to get as much sleep as I could, which is not so easy when you have houseguests that you haven’t seen in a long time and want to spend time with.  I also have trouble falling asleep because I get distracted by myriad things so, yes, I popped a pill. Two, actually, of Simply Sleep: Tylenol PM without the Tylenol. Just so you know, each pill is 25 mg of diphenhydramine Hcl..same thing in Benadryl and in the store brand of allergy medicine. Get that instead of these “sleep aids”, it’s cheaper!
  • And, in case it wasn’t obvious: NO TALKING! I walked around with pen and paper to have only the most necessary of conversations.  If I found myself without it, I moved my mouth and pronounced the plosive consonants like T or K or P.  I couldn’t call for delivery, so I walked to the restaurant across the street and pointed at what I wanted. What was really interesting to me was the effort that people took to really understand you and that I realized, when I didn’t speak, people actually listened to me.

I tested the voice out a couple of hours ago and I think it’s back! I’m going to keep on vocal rest another 12 hours, then wake up tomorrow and warm up for my first audition of the week. Fingers crossed!

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