Thursday, February 07, 2008

Mysterious Ailment

Faithful readers know I'm pursuing work as a voiceover talent. This means I need to sound like my 4 voiceover demos: commercial, character, narration and of course fast talking. Or, at the very least, if I book a job, I need to sound like my audition. Consistency is key. Headshots are the same way. If you have shoulder length hair in your picture, you'd better not show up at an audition or shoot with short hair.

Unfortunately, I'm having issues with my vocal cords. I have had laryngitis twice in two months that didn't seem to be accompanied by a cold. My voice is not as clear as usual, and the sound sometimes changes during the day.

I happened to visit an ENT for a different problem. Fortunately, he's a voice specialist. He used a cool little (and painless!!) camera, had me say 'E' at various pitches and volumes. I could see the results on the monitor. Not only is there persistent mucus (without visible cold symptoms), but one vocal cord isn't lining up with the other. They're supposed to be straight, like guitar strings. But one sort of curves when I talk.

He thinks I might have laryngopharyngeal reflux disease (LPRD)...similar to GERD but, again fortunately, with no heartburn. He recommended medication and diet changes. I'm supposed to avoid/eliminate caffeine, chocolate (!!!??!), tomatoes, citrus and mint (as in no minty gum). And, avoid stress. Ha.

I'm going to try not to worry about this, and believe it will clear up. I've gotten through a couple of auditions but only with a lot of throat clearing and retakes. I doubt right now I could do a long script in one take.

If the medication and diet changes don't work, and he can't find another solution, I'd probably have to redo all of my demos with my now slightly hoarser voice...a significant expense and time commitment. It's not that I don't like how I sound now, it's just too different to the trained ear.

And then I'd have to hope my voice didn't change again....


Eileen said...

avoid chocolate? Dear God- I may have to simply give up speaking.

The (Mis)Adventures of a Single City Chick said...

As a long time sufferer of GERD (about 11 years now), I can feel your pain -- literally (heh heh). ;-) Actually, I get the major heartburn and esophageal burning, but nothing that affects my voice. But since your voice is literally your working tool, I'm sure this is rather alarming for you to deal with. I'm sorry you're going through this, and definitely sorry to hear about the chocolate! :-(