Eight years ago, I came down with a very serious case of laryngitis. It was after a six hour session voicing a seven year old boy followed by a way-too-late evening out with friends. I was told by my doctor to be completely silent for two weeks...which put my radio job and voice over career in jeopardy.
Needless to say, eight years ago I learned a very, very, VERY valuable lesson! Since then, I've always treated my voice with the utmost kindness. I never yell (unless it's during a recording session), not even at sporting events. I drink tons of fluids, and I warm up properly before sessions.
However, despite my mildly obsessive ways, Mr. Laryngitis came calling this week for only the second time in my career.
Don't get me wrong, I've had a hoarse voice before- particularly after long sessions...but there is a difference between being hoarse, being vocally tired, and having laryngitis. Laryngitis is when your vocal chords swell causing the air to pass by them creating a weak or distorted sound. (Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a speech therapist, and these are simply my own observations)
Over the Memorial Day weekend, I attended Animazement, a fantastic anime con that takes place annually in Raleigh, NC. After attending last year and becoming hoarse from too much talking and 'doing voices', I decided to take it as easy as possible this year. I was restrained when voicing characters, I got plenty of rest, and I drank a TON of water. However, I realized early on that my nemesis was not the talking itself, rather the lack of proper ventilation in the hotel. I am allergic to dust, and it was very clear to me that my allergies were in overdrive all four days.
Upon returning Sunday night, I decided it would be wise to talk as little as possible. Monday morning, I realized it wouldn't matter- my voice was shot. I knew I had until Wednesday at 2:30 to get it back. Despite desperately needing to work on a large project throughout the week, Wednesday I had a session scheduled I couldn't back out of.
So- I went silent. Completely silent.
I e-mailed my client with the on-going project and asked for a deadline extension of a few days. No problem. Then, I loaded in some new music beds I had just received and started working on production elements...all the while sitting in silence.
My husband took to interpreting my hand signals and poor writing on a pad of paper I carried around. He also adjusted to blank stares in response to any questions. After day 2 had passed he mentioned that he was amazed at my ability to truly be silent for so long. (Followed by a comment that this was what most husbands dreamed for...yeah, he'll pay for that later!)
I wrote that I learned a valuable lesson eight years ago, and silence was the only cure to this ailment.
Wednesday morning I began with a few vocal warm ups. Some simple stuff as to not strain my recovering vocals. While I knew I wasn't in 'full voice', I felt confident I would get through the session OK. It went wonderfully! The other actor had a slight cold, so we had a big laugh about our mutual ailments. The client was thrilled, and I immediately resumed my silent ways.
As of today, my voice is about 95%. I'm still taking it easy until tomorrow when I have 2 projects I have to voice. I'll also spend my weekend catching up on the projects I fell behind on.
I realize how lucky I was this time around, to 'cure' in a few days what once almost cost me my career. As voice actors, it is up to us...and only us...to take care of our instrument. Even with a stack of projects to complete, we have to put our long-term vocal health first. Silence for a few days is nothing when my dream career is on the line.