The Sounds of Silence

** Not suitable for sensitive viewers**

As anyone who knows me personally can attest, there is something I love to do even more than writing. TALKING. To be honest, I just don’t shut up… as a result I have the 3 loudest children in.the.world. The only way to be heard above them is to shout even louder. Then they go. Then me. It’s a vicious circle. #truestory

SO, for the past month I have had this sore throat, and my voice has taken on a husky timbre that would do Amy Winehouse (RIP) proud. I briefly considered becoming a voice over for uber-sexy TV commercials, but the pain being too much I instead made an appointment to see a local GP *Note: this is not my actual GP, who is on maternity leave, but a stand-in.

I was prescribed an antibiotic. Note: at no point could the aforementioned, not-my-usual-GP actually tell me what was wrong with me, but she happily rang up my R440 bill and told me that should I not feel better in a week I should rather see an ENT. I paid her with polite smile firmly in place and resisted the urge to tell her to piss off for being useless.

Needless to say, the antibiotic didn’t work. (And no, they will not refund you for being wrong – trust me, I tried) I soldiered on for another week but today I just couldn’t bear it any longer and off I went to see the dreaded ENT.

A brief summary of my visit:

ENT:     “Where exactly is the pain?”
ME:        “Well, this may sound strange, but it feels like its coming from my voice box.”
ENT:       “Have you strained your voice recently?”
ME:         *Silence*  Oh fuck, I can’t tell him, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. I’m 33 years old FFS!   “Um, not that I can recall.”
ENT:        (Suspicious look)  “I need to look in your throat.”
ME:          (sticking out my tongue) “Aaaaaaaah”
ENT:       “No, with a telescope. First I’m going to need to numb your nose and throat. This may feel strange, as if you can’t breathe, or swallow, but you can.”
ME:          (in a small, frightened voice)  “What if I can’t?”
ENT:        (more sternly)  “No, but you can.”
ME:          “How far are we from the ICU?”
ENT:        “No need to panic. Now, this will sting just for a few seconds.”

At this point, he sprayed liberal amounts of some evil designed-by-sadists solution down my throat and up my nose, and just for a second I thought he was exaggerating. And then…the burn. Holy hell, I thought, this must be what they throw on women’s faces in those awful places where torture is still legal. The pain was excruciating – my eyes watered, my nostrils flared, and I thought about all the things I hadn’t done in my life yet… ridden an elephant, had a hot-air balloon ride, met Ian Somerhalder…

To be fair, it really only stung for about 3 seconds. Maybe less, it’s all a bit blurred.

At this stage the ENT looked slightly alarmed, but ever the professional, he continued.

And then it happened. He stuck a tube up my nose, which went down my throat. Repeated the process with a metal prong down my throat. #utterlyviolated  I didn’t think things could possibly get any worse, and then he asked me to take a seat. Oh God, I’m dying. I sat.

ENT:       “You have nodules on your vocal chords.”

My brain whirred, faster than NASA’s fastest high-tech computer. Nodules, nodules… I hit a blank. WTF are nodules?? I cleared my throat.

ENT:       “Don’t do that, it will make it worse. Here, let me show you the scan.”

The next ten minutes were spent looking down my own throat and trying not to gag**

He shuffled some papers around and then looked straight at me. Almost through me. His beady eyes narrowed and I swear I heard ‘The Good, The Bad & The Ugly’ Showdown theme song playing in my head. I couldn’t look away.

ENT:        “Are you sure you haven’t strained your voice recently?”

I didn’t answer. I’m not going to break. Not even if he starts pulling out my fingernails, or strapping electrodes to my chest. NO.WAY.

ENT:        (in a persuasive voice) “Possibly you watched the Sharks game last weekend?”

Oh hell no! I am so not going down like that. I had to come clean. I cast my mind back to 5 weeks before, and the excitement as the package finally arrived on my desk. How could I possibly have known it would end this way?

ME:         “I bought the GLEE Soundtrack.” (I resisted the urge to add, “There! Are you happy now? Do you feel good about yourself, breaking others down like this?!)
ENT:       “Pardon?”
ME:         “Um, well, it’s a music soundtrack.”
ENT:       “And how did this… Aaaah.” (Unnatural silence)   “You’ve been singing then, I presume?”
ME:          “There’s a…um… Journey song… it’s called “Don’t stop believing…”
ENT:        “I believe I know it.”
ME:           “Well, there are a lot of um…. “da da da’s” in the opening.”
ENT:        (looks thoughtful and taps foot as though playing song in head) “Yes, there are actually.”
ME:          “I may have played it a few times.” (Note: I played it about 672 times and sang along LOUDLY each and every time)
ENT:         “Well, there’s your problem. You strained the vocal chords and developed nodules, which are preventing you from projecting your voice and causing  the considerable pain.”
ME:           “In my defence, I also shout at my children a lot.”
ENT:         (suspicious look back in place) “Well, there’s that too, then.”
ME:           “I mean, I’m not a bad mom or anything, but there are 3 of them, and they don’t really listen if I use the calm Supernanny voice.”
ENT:         “The what voice?”
ME:           “Supernanny – she’s on the telly.”
ENT:         “I don’t think I’ve seen that show.”
ME:           “Don’t bother. I mean, she’s all about going down to their level – which, by the way, generally results in one or all of them leaping onto your back and WWF-ing your ass to the floor. And as for the naughty corner, that’s a right joke. I mean, they just don’t stay there… how does she even get them to stay there? It’s not normal.”
ENT:         (alarmed look back in place) “Yes, well about your nodules…”
ME:           (narrow eyed) “I’m a good mom.”
ENT:        “I’m sure you are… Now, you’ll need some Prednisone.”
ME:           “Ooh, my hubby takes that. For his gout.”
ENT:         “Does he get gout often?”
ME:           “All the time… whenever he drinks.”
ENT:         (Eyebrows shooting up into his hairline) “Is that so?”
ME:           “He’s a good dad.”

Honestly, I mean, I can practically see him dialling child welfare the minute I walk out the room. I need to get out of here.

“So, what do I do?” I ask briskly, then, lowering my voice conspiratorially, “about the nodules?”

ENT:         “Right, right. We’ll need them to heal, or you might need surgery. The first thing you need to do is see a vocal coach.”
ME:           “My husband would agree with you.”
ENT:         (Snort of laughter covered by very obvious throat clearing) “Actually, it’s more like a speech therapist, just to train you to speak properly, as the nodules will affect your speech and it’s important not to develop bad habits.”
ME:             “Right, vocal therapist. What else?”
ENT:           “You need to rest your voice.”
ME:             “I beg your pardon?”
ENT:           “You need to be very quiet. No singing, no yelling at the kids, very little talking.”
ME:              “My husband called you, didn’t he?”

So here I am… speechless. I’ve been signing to my kids all afternoon, they think it’s hysterical, but I know the novelty will wear off. They can sense my fear, they’re like bloodhounds… they smell it.

I have to go back in 4-6 weeks and if there’s no improvement he’s going to have to cut those pesky nodules out.

I’ll keep you posted, and in the meantime, if anyone wants to come over to mine and yell at some kids… give me a holler 🙂 

**The inside of your throat looks like a va-jay-jay

Seriously – Google it: Nodules on vocal chords. It’s gross.


  • Fiona

    hahahaha you are too funny!!! I will be happy to shout at your kids while I am shouting at mine, just tie them to the fence so they dont stray too far 🙂

  • Wendy Bow

    You crack me up. Seriously!!!!! You gotta get started on writing a comedy. Step aside Sophie, Marion and the rest of you bitches…. I nearly fell off my chair. So this is why you were so quiet on the phone for a change and actually let me speak. I thought it was strange. Plus getting you up to date on our new obsession (The Tomorrow People) and you didnt even scream and shout with “glee”. I gotta say when i put the phone down, i thought we were over. But now I understand. This is too good to be true. I think I might pop round this weekend so that I can chat and you can listen. Oh this is gonna be so much fun. I am going to google really boring topics to talk about like the shapeless forms of the Amoeba, and you gonna have to just sit there and listen… So much of excited… See you in 5…

  • Norma

    So you finally translated all that talking into writing! lol I hope you get better soon and keep writing! You are wonderful at it! HUGsxx

  • Linda Venton

    You are the funniest !!!!! Was feeling all tired and down and afta reading this feel like a new person !! I laughed my way thro , dfinately think u are heading for StandUp comedy soon ! I will be in the audience to support u but in the meantime get well xx

  • Tanya Holmes (@TanyaHolmes2177)

    Thank you for making me laugh. I’m a mom to two girls and I know exactly how you feel. If you cant sing along then whats the point? Im hoping that your voice is better now 😉

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