One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Utter frustration, that’s all I can say about my current vocal situation. Last week’s speech therapy was cancelled which was really irritating as I was desperate to discuss something important with my therapist. Since Monday last week I have noticed my voice “seizing” up half way through my working or speaking afternoon. This could be attributed to the fact that I have a profession where speaking is essential. I guess the private chit chat could be totally omitted if necessary, however I feel this would be one of the worst ways to do the job I do. For me, a patient isn’t merely a set of teeth coming through the door, but an individual with a life, stories to tell, personal circumstances be those happy or frustrating. I love the regularity of my job. When I see people several times a year there are many events that take place in their life. And not just that, building a rapport means they find out a lot about my life as well. And, just like me, they are curious about things that have happened. Thinking of nervous patients, you can’t just get on with things. You need to talk to them, ease their anxiety by either explaining in detail what you are about to do and why or just talk trivial things throughout the appointment.

It also doesn’t help that I have developed a pretty chesty cough. And funnily enough, that has been going on since last week Monday as well. Every time I have a coughing fit, my laryngeal area tightens up and it takes ages for me to release the tension. Of course, this new onset of minor illness, combined with a child that is unwell, means that I don’t seem to have any opportunity to fully recover from things. It’s just one little thing after the next after the next after the next after……

Things at home are somewhat interesting, for want of a better word. I have welcomed a different circumstance into my life in hope that issues revolving around my son would perhaps improve (I know you are curious so, to satisfy your need to know, it is to do with child care). Generally it is working out well for my son. I am finding it rather difficult to adjust to the situation that I am having to deal with a much higher level of dependency, or so it seems, than I thought or would like for that matter. The situation as such is not a bad one, on the contrary. However, having to reiterate so many little, for me normal ‘open your eyes and just get on with it‘ stuff amongst other things is actually proving counter productive in this whole laryngeal relaxation. I was told you can literally see my lower jaw tensing up just talking about it.

That is the operative word here. I am generally tensed. That is the conclusion from the previous session. And I can just hear most of you say: ‘Sweetheart you have only just noticed that?‘ My answer to that is: well, no I haven’t. I know I am generally the type of person who tenses up quickly when situations are relatively stressful. Stress doesn’t bother me as such. I actually work better when there is a little bit of pressure present. Studies have shown that it can be a motivator. What I hadn’t realised was that this tendency to tense up was affecting me as much as it apparently is. And particularly in the area it is. 

My question of the day: how to relax. Self-care is a big thing I think. And I do try and fit at least a bit of it into my day, be that by running (ok, stupid amounts of it at the moment due to training for the marathon), a hot bath, yoga or just enjoying a cup of tea or coffee with as little distraction as possible. But, in this case, I don’t think it is the kind of self-care that is going to do it. I keep thinking of work-life balance, work-work balance, life-life balance, mum-individual balance… where do I find my balance? Where in my day, my life can I make changes that will affect me positively and help me to heal? Mentally I have been working hard and it is helping. But physically, I feel so far from it. And I am not sure how to stop this ‘one step forward, two steps back‘ cycle I feel I am in. I try not to let it frustrate me, but it is hard.

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