Dear Mr ENT
I just can’t keep my big mouth shut (which under the circumstances may actually be an advantage). I’ve told people that you’re going to try to fix my voice again. Well – I have a letter saying a bed has been ‘provisionally’ allocated for me. And I’m starting to get a cold. (Annie thinks it’s just stress; the moping around and grumbling about the state of the World being other symptoms of my cold). So I guess it could, in theory, be postponed. But I still have to pack a wee bag and report to the ward on Wednesday morning. And I know it’s going to hurt this time – that because of what you describe as my “particular anatomy” you may have to break a few things to get the wretched tube into position. Perhaps a dentist on standby – just in case?
After the first attempt, when my new voice lasted around 3 days, I did say that I would not announce the procedure with my customary fanfare, in case it was unsuccessful again. But it’s difficult to keep something like this quiet, because there is so much riding on it – expectations are high. A heady mix of excitement, tempered with caution; it’s been 8 months since the first attempt – 8 months of waiting for the heart to settle down. And it’s been 15 months since my voice was taken away. You really have to do it this time. No pressure – LOL.
It’s not just the speaking and the breathlessness, although goodness knows they make life difficult enough. It’s the singing. I know we’re not supposed to mention this because it’s a ‘lifestyle’ thing but for me it’s a big deal. I still dream I can sing – I woke up yesterday morning in the middle of Hungry Heart. I was so convinced it was real that I thought about cancelling the procedure.
There’s more: I’m having a problem with live music – specifically – going to gigs or concerts. I notice ‘band’ things – like when the singer comes up to the microphone while the band are tuning up and fiddles with the microphone stand. Adjusts it up and down and then puts it back where it originally was. It’s a diversionary tactic – part of dealing with nerves – the self-conscious hanging around waiting to start. We all do it – interesting to see that the pros go through this routine too.
We saw Eddie Reader a little while ago ago. I became aware halfway through that I had tears running down my cheeks. It was almost too painful to be there. Not just because of her singing – which is always wonderful and moving – but because she had an accordion player in her band. Fat Freddy’s Cat has an accordion player as well. It’s been such a long time since I heard that sound – and I miss it. I want to fiddle self-consciously with the microphone stand while Neil trips over his mandolin lead and Chris messes around with the sound levels as Tim and Susanne fight for space at the back of the (always tiny) stage.
This is not the Albert Hall but a small pub in a small town in the middle of England, packed with people who come to see the band. (I say ‘see’ rather than hear because the sound-check/tune up ritual is an act in itself). And all over the world, in tiny bars and cafes, people come to see the band. It’s a universal experience – fundamental to what makes us human. It’s no co-incidence that Pink Floyd begin Dark Side of the Moon with the sound of a human heart beat.
Do you remember the first time we met when I said I guess it’s down to luck whether this procedure works or not and you said; “and my talent”? Well now it’s your turn to step up to the mic and do what it is you do best. Exercise that talent; manoeuvre the tube into exactly the right position this time – smack bang in the middle – and then unload that lovely BSE-free bovine collagen into my dormant vocal cord.
And if it still doesn’t work, then after I’ve had a good cry – and new dental work – we’ll move onto Plan B. We do have a Plan B – don’t we?
Thanking you in anticipation, I remain yours faithfully, Mr Patient.