Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Struggle to Get my Voice Back

So, my life went on.  When I finally got the call for my kidney, I was 21 years old and in college.  I was having the worst semester ever in college.  I was failing most of my academic music classes like theory, history, and midi.  I was passing my business classes, which seems crazy to me now.  The moment I got the call, I went to school, went to my theory class to see all of my friends, and to also find out I had failed that exam.  Since the whole class was buzzing about me, the teacher said, "You probably wish you hadn't come to pick this up!"  Gee, thanks.  Then, I walked over to the next building and withdrew from school.  Now that I think about it, this was probably not a smart move. The kidney could have dissappeared or not worked.  I hear these stories all the time on shows like "ER" and "Greys Anatomy."  The thing is, the kidney did work and still works to this day.  (Go Kidney!)  I had been on this list for about a year and eight months, which was about the normal waiting period at that time.  I was on a peritoneal dialysis machine called the Night Cycler which, woke my roomates up with it's beeping more than me.  (Knock, knock, knock.  "YOU'RE BEEPING!"  "Oh, Sorry!" Snore...)
I spent the rest of my sememster living in my parents' home.  I also spent most of that time not singing at all.  I remember right after the transplant, a group of doctors standing around my bed and demanding that I sing for them, you know, two days after surgury.  It doesn't matter that they just put you out for a full day and stuck tubes down your throat while you were sleeping to keep you alive.  So, I put on my best surgury smile, and attempted to sing, "Part of Your World" from the Little Mermaid.  I squeaked out, "Look at this stuff..." and coughed, "Isn't it neat?"  Then, I realized my vocal chords just weren't going to work.  My voice was shaky.  I just about started to cry.  "Then, I tried to get through another line, "Wouldn't you think my collection's complete?"  I just about died of embarassment.  I just felt like, these doctors have to know that singing two days after surgury is not the greatest idea!  I'm still healing!  Especially, since the first 24 hours, I wasn't allowed to drink anything.  All fluid intake had to be through an IV.  Dry, tube damaged vocal chords are not easy to manage.  From that moment on, it took me some time to gain my confidence back and start singing again.
Then, the "Millenium" happened, and Y2K didn't.  That weekend, I moved back into my apartment with my sorority sisters.  I started singing again with the help of my voice professor.  Her family, being medical professionals, and she having been through some medical issues, understood.  She worked with me. Then, more side effects of the medicine started to happen, the weight gain and the thinning of the hair.  In an industry that's based on your image, those are two things that are hard to work through.  I had long beautiful blonde hair before the surgury. Then, it started thinning out.  So, I kept cutting it shorter and shorter.  I also started dying it lighter and lighter.  Imuno suppressants do weird things to the body.  I tried to work out to control the weight gain, but the side effect called "Moon Face" from the prednisone, made me look heavier. I kept on singing through it all. 
Sometime within college, I discovered karaoke, which is fun.  But during college, I was still involved with two to three choirs until my last year. I was in the Concert Choir for five years.  I was in the womens group that did classical repetoire and some show choir music for two years.  Then, my very last semester, the director decided he didn't want me in the group I had already been in for my entire college career.  He wanted me to be in the "Community Choir" group.  I joined Steel Drum Class for my last semester.  Let me just say, that class was awesome!  And I probably learned more in that group than I ever would have in the "Community Choir!"  I also prepared a Junior Recital and a Senior Recital.  Those were actually fun!  I sang with a church choir, where I was a paid musician and also expected to provide "Special Music" every other month.  I made it through college.  I had to do a six month internship to complete my major.  So, I got an internship with the company I work for now.  It was in the Chicago Area.  I had survived college!  I recieved a lot of performance opportunities through that experience.

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