The Writing Life

Monday, August 22, 2005

Still Working

The second book is almost finished. I have about 3700 words left, and then I edit. I'm fairly certain I'll make the Sept. 1 deadline despite having been given a one week extension. The publisher changed the outline while I was in the middle of writing it, so I asked for the extension in case the changes threw off my schedule. I would prefer to hand it in on time. The sooner I hand it in, the sooner I get paid, and I need the money. What else is new?

With the first advances from both books, I fixed my car, paid my taxes, paid my bills, paid my health insurance, and paid my rent. That took almost everyting I had.

I did manage to buy some clothes (nothing exciting, just underwear and some tops), something I do rarely. I also bought a new microphone. It's gorgeous, but it needs a pre-amp. I don't have the money for the pre-amp, so I have to wait for another paycheck.

I've been waiting for the 2nd payment on book #1, but it's still not here. It's nearly two weeks late. I hate that I have to keep after them to pay me. It's my money. They shouldn't be allowed to keep it indefinitely when I need it so. That's my rent they're holding onto. If it doesn't come before the 1st, I'm sunk. It's not even enough to pay the rent. My landlord keeps raising my rent and now it's far more than I can afford, but I also can't afford to move.

Ah, enough about money. Boring subject.

Let's talk about having a voice. When I lost my voice in 2001, my entire life changed. I spent almost a year without being able to speak, let alone sing. The silence was deafening. I could speak only in a very soft whisper. My breathing was labored and I became very depressed. I didn't know if I could take it much longer. Without a voice, I felt empty. I couldn't even write any more (a symptom of the depression, no doubt).

I coughed constantly -- a dry, wracking cough that was so violent I was constantly hurting myself. Even dislocated a rib. I would cough so hard I'd throw up. The vomiting happened every day, sometimes several times a day. One day, I was in the car, had a coughing fit and threw up all over myself. Horrifying.

The doctors couldn't figure it out. I had test after test -- CT scans, MRIs, and even exploratory surgery. All they found was that my throat tissue was so swollen, it was sitting on my vocal chords. But they didn't know why! Finally, they gave up.

The specialist kept blaming me, telling me I was doing something wrong. I kept trying to explain that I knew it wasn't me. Sometimes you just know things, intuitively. I'm very intuitive. I often know things that defy explanation. And believe me, I knew that something was causing this. I just didn't know what.

The depression kept me from doing anything. Because it was so hard to breathe, I had almost no energy. I was anemic. I rarely left my apt. because going anywhere meant talking. And I couldn't talk.

Finally, I'd had enough. I either had to find the answer or I wasn't sure what would happen. First things first -- I needed to end the depression. I made a conscious effort to come out of that deep, dark hole. One week later, everything changed.

I went to get my mail and found my prescription drugs had arrived. I use a mail-order pharmacy to save money. I have high blood pressure, so I take medication for that. I took out the drugs and threw away all the material they send with it because I'd been getting these pills for awhile. Later that day, I looked over and saw the papers lying on top of a rather full wastepaper basket. Something made me pick them up and read them.

And there it was, the most serious of several warnings: "Contact your physician immediately if you have any of these symptoms: Laryngitis; dry, persistant cough; vomiting; difficulty breathing." I couldn't believe it. There was the answer, right in front of my face. My damn medicine was poisoning me! I was allergic to it. And no one -- not one single doctor -- ever thought to check my meds. They knew about them. My GP prescribed them. And that was right before the problems began. But no one put two and two together because the meds take awhile to build up in one's system and therefore the onset of symptoms was 2 weeks after the med change.

It was the weekend and there was no way to get in touch with my doctor until Monday. One of the most difficult things I ever did was take my medicine over the weekend. I knew it was poison, but I also knew that I couldn't risk having untreated high blood pressure for a couple of days.

On Monday, I went in to the doc, armed with data. He argued with me at first. Said those symptoms are found in Asians, and only in 2% of whites. Well, 2% isn't 0%, is it? It happened to me. I showed him the timeline, showed him the drug printouts and told him I wanted new meds immediately. He shut up and agreed. I know why he was scared. He thought I was going to sue him. I was a voice actress and a year of silence destroyed that career permanently. I haven't worked in VO since. But I don't care about suing. I just wanted my voice back.

I switched meds and the very first day, there was improvement. It was a miracle. Things improved for about a week, and then it just stopped and went no further. Still had a lot of problems, and had no stamina (I could talk for about 10-15 minutes and then my voice would go away) but it was better than no voice at all. Then a couple of weeks later, I injured my shoulder. I had a left over vicadin from some dental work, and took it for the pain. A friend called and after talking about two hours, we suddenly realized how much time had passed. We had exceeded my 15 minutes by a huge amount! The only thing that was different was the vicodin.

I went back to the doc, and he gave me prescription for 20 vicodin as an experiment. I took one a day for 20 days and my voice improved by leaps and bounds. It was amazing. I could talk again.

It took about a year of healing for me to get my speaking voice back to 100%. My singing voice took much longer. I spent my life being able to sing, and this throat thing took that away from me. I thought it was permanent. A couple more years and I got that back, too. My upper register is pretty shot, but I still have my lows, and that's plenty.

In the summer of 2004, I got a new Mac (I'll tell that crazy story another day). One day, I discovered a new program on it called GarageBand. It was a music program. I started playing around with it and realized I could write songs and sing them. This began an amazing journey back into the world of music. In the past year, I've written over 50 songs and posted them on the web. I even won a contest with one of them. It's been an incredible experience. Some of my songs have been played on the radio -- quite a thrill.

For the woman who had no voice, it felt as though the world had finally returned to normal. Now all of my voices are in full swing. My speaking voice, my singing voice, and my writing voice. I'm writing books, writing songs, and absolutely loving my life. My stalker has stopped focusing on me. My books are doing well. If I can just make some decent money, I'll be that intensely happy person you pass on the street who is smiling, just because.

-- Guanna

2 Comments:

  • Read your entry--now I'm smiling too. (((Hugs))) just cuz.--Dulcie Anne

    By Blogger Dulcie, at 7:38 PM  

  • Thank you, Dulcie! Adversity makes us stronger, and hitting bottom lilke that changed a lot of things in my life. I'm a very happy person now.

    By Blogger Guanna, at 8:04 PM  

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