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A Hoarse and Whispery Kitchenside Chat

Posted Mar 16 2010 6:58am

Woke myself up this morning by laughing at something.  I was dreaming something funny, and I chuckled about it and that woke me up.  Can’t remember what was so funny.  But it woke me up.  And it woke up Raven who walked over to my bed and nudged me.  I patted the bed and she hopped up with me.  Went back to sleep for about an hour, then woke up with that “punched in the throat” feeling.

If I force myself, I am able to talk in my normal tone of voice.  But it hurts.  So I am speaking in sort of a hoarse whisper.

I’ve been noticing subtle changes in my vocal quality for some time.  Everyone says, “You sound fine to me.”  But when you’ve been making a living with your voice for as long as I have… since 1977… you can tell if something isn’t right.  You might not notice that the “D” string of a violin is a quarter turn out of tune, but a good violinist will be able to hear it instantly — especially if it’s a violin he’s been playing for 33 years.  I’ve noticed since last year that my vocal quality is getting softer and more “whispery.”  I’ve also noticed I can’t talk as long without taking a breath.  And now this.

Looks OK to me, but what the hell do I know about throats?

There are reasons for it, according to what I read in the Parkinson’s disease literature.  The muscles that control my vocal cords are getting stiff (like the rest of my muscles), so they don’t react as well.  My chest muscles don’t function properly, meaning I don’t inhale and exhale as easily as I did when I was a younger pup.  That also helps to explain the nighttime phlegm buildup… that, and the fact that I don’t seem to manage my saliva so well.  I think I’ve become what they call a “silent aspirator” — inhaling little bits of liquid or food and not noticing it until there’s a buildup.

I clear my throat at more-or-less regular intervals all day long.  It gets to Gail, who sometimes takes refuge with ear plugs and the wireless headphones I got for the TV.  It’s either that, or a headache.

You’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about in today’s video presentation.

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