Posts Tagged ‘sick’

Just call me Typhoid Mary

You might recall that I made a passing reference to being ill last week and that Rob was also ill.  Yesterday, we both went to the doctor. The good news is that it isn’t pneumonia.

Rob had been at work with two people that had pneumonia for a couple of days the week before this hit so it was in the range of possibile illnesses. The bad news is that I was contagious for the past week and saw a lot of people. Hence this post of warning.  Doom!

Did you see me last week and get sick a couple of days later?  Don’t worry, it’s just a respiratory infection but a fairly unpleasant one.  The doctor thinks it is not the flu.  Here are my symptoms.

  • Starts with a head cold
  • Adds a fever and a sore throat
  • Nasty cough
  • Green phlegm
  • Some nasal congestion, but mostly chest
  • Aches
  • Rob got shaking chills and night sweats
  • We’ve both been sick for over a week.  Rob for ten days, me for eight.

They’ve got us both on antibiotics to which it is already responding.  The point is, if you saw me and you got sick about two or three days after, don’t mess around. Go to the doctor.

And I’m sorry about that. Until the fever hit, I thought the cough was from all the travel.

Sick. Bleah. But at least I get a couple of days at home.

I was supposed to fly out of town tomorrow to to go Michigan and record Seanan McGuire’s An Artificial Night. May I say that a major perk of this job is that I get to read books like this before you do? You just wait until you see what Toby is up to next.

Meanwhile, we just rescheduled because I came down with a head cold yesterday.

One of the problems with recording audio is that things like this show up as changes in my voice. Besides needing to pause more often for sneezing and nose blowing, my voice is sitting lower than it normally does and a little more gravelly. For a short term project, I could get around this but for an audio book I record for eight hours a day over the course of several days.  Now, there’s a fair chance that my voice would give out faster while ill, it is a muscle after all.  But even if that weren’t the case, the sound of my voice won’t match the previous books and will change over the course of the week as I heal.

As timing goes, this would have been worse if it hit while I was there, since that would lead to me being sick in a hotel room. As it is we just bumped the schedule back so that I’ll fly on Tuesday and record Wednesday through Sunday.

Slow day.

Today was fairly laid back.  After all the running around that I’ve been doing over the past month or so with shows and whatnot, yesterday was the first real breather I’ve had. Naturally, faced with nothing else to do, my body decided to get sick. Fortunately, it seems to have been fairly mild and is already pretty much done. I subscribe to the theory that hibernation is the best way to combat a cold, so I hunkered down on the sofa under the very warm, cozy blanket that Laurel Amberdine made as a birthday present.  Between that, lots of snoozing, and warm beverages, I feel pretty much completely human today.

Fortunately, Rob and I pretty much ignore Valentine’s Day, so I didn’t miss much.  Although he did make waffles this morning and cooked dinner tonight.  Pretty swell arrangement, if you ask me.

Update on Rob’s hands

You might remember about a month ago I mentioned that Rob had gone in to have his hands diagnosed and that the doctor wanted to get him in for surgery right away, as in that week.  The nerves were dying. He’s been jumping through paperwork since then.  We just found out that his worker’s comp claim has been denied because they’ve said the carpal tunnel is a pre-existing condition.

The problem with this is that it’s not debilitating if he’s not working harvest.  I mean, the problems he’s having are so clearly linked to his job that it’s not even funny.  Right now, he’s having trouble tying his shoes.  This wasn’t an issue before harvest.

We’re been told that he can appeal to a judge, which we’ll try, meanwhile he’s also jumping through the paperwork hoops for our regular insurance.  I’m frustrated, angry and worried about him.

Rob’s hands

Rob’s been having some trouble at the winery with his hands. He’d been losing sensation in his fingertips, dropping things and dealing with general weakness. We were pretty sure it was carpal tunnel syndrome, so he was trying to put off going to the doctor until after harvest.  A persistant tingling in two of his fingers added to everything else finally sent him in yesterday.

The doctor, a hand specialist, confirmed that it was carpal tunnel.  But then he told Rob that the persistant tingling was a sign of nerves dying.  He didn’t want to delay treatment, at all. So sometime next week, Rob is going in for surgery.  He won’t be able to lift anything at all for two weeks with that hand. And then be on very light duty with it for months.

I’ll keep you posted.

What is a fever like for you?

It looks like the fever has finally broken. Whew.

Let me ask you this, because Rob says it doesn’t happen to him and I’ve just always assumed it was a normal part of getting a fever. My skin gets really sensitive, like all the nerve endings have been chafed and are jangling. I can’t stand to have anything rub across because the friction is too much. The best way I could describe it to him, and this isn’t exactly right, is when you have a mild sunburn and can feel every fiber in the clothes you are wearing. Does that happen to you?

My joints ache and my skin gets sensitive. Chills are standard, but does anyone else get the other stuff?

And yes, thank you, I am feeling much better. I still have very little appetite, a cough, fatigue but hey– at least I know I’ve gotten enough sleep this week. Finally.

Snuggled under the covers

This isn’t entirely unexpected, since I’ve been pushing really hard over the past weeks, but I’m definitely ill. Lucky thing I had a couple of days off so I could hunker down and sleep.

Dad has the flu

Well, phooey. Mom and Dad were scheduled to come visit on Friday. My birthday is the 8th, Mom’s is the 11th and she is attaining a Significant Number this year. We were going to do a joint celebration. I had all sorts of things planned.

But, he is ill — as in influenza and in bed — and so they’ve canceled their flight. The doctor has him on strong antibiotics and he’s wearing a mask so he doesn’t infect Mom.

Since Dad’s a regular reader, would you all mind leaving him some well-wishes here?

Thank heavens for minor miracles

I slept through the night last night!

Remember that cold I mentioned getting, over a week ago? Yeah. My niece gave me the gift that kept on giving. I tend not to blog about illness and injury unless it’s amusing or interesting. A week of hearing me complain about getting up every night to clear my lungs would have gotten old very, very quickly. But last night, hallelujah, I did not have to do that. Yay!

Reading Aloud 16: The Common Cold

This entry is part 16 of 17 in the series Reading Aloud

My niece gave me a cold for Christmas, so we’re going to take advantage of it to show some tricks for dealing with throat ailments. For kicks, I recorded the whole post this time. You can listen to it here OR you can read and just listen to the example clips.

Listen to Reading Aloud: The Common Cold

You’ve probably noticed that when you are sick your voice tends to get lower, right? Basically, what’s going on is this: the pitch of your voice depends on the length and thickness of your vocal cords (folds really, but that’s a tangent) Men have big thick manly vocal cords, while ladies and kids have thinner more delicate ones. When you’re sick, your throat gets inflamed, which thickens your vocal cords. They vibrate more slowly and voila, lower voice.

Let’s pause for a moment to listen to some audio, shall we? I’ll let you hear a recording of me reading Rampion with my normal voice, and then switch to one with my voice the way it sounds right now.

This is the full text of Rampion, but only listen to the first 30 seconds or so of it.

Now, this is me, today, sick. I’m trying to deliver the same read, but I’m not making corrections for the effects of illness.

Sounds like a different person, eh?

Since the cold is lowering my voice, I can raise my pitch and try to compensate somewhat. For me, it feels like I’m speaking incredibly high, but to someone who doesn’t know me, this will do a lot to bring my voice into the range of normal. I wouldn’t want to do this for long, but it’s gotten me through many performances.

So, same text but with me trying to correct.

It’s passable, but there’s a danger here. I have a smaller vocal range when sick already, and by moving my voice up in pitch, I cut off the bottom end of my range. When ill, I mostly have bottom end and then nothing until the very top end. Your mileage may vary, but try humming through your vocal range next time you are sick.

And if you are feeling frisky, take advantage of that suddenly deep voice. Everything can sound sexy with your new range. For example:

Mostly though, the answer to being sick is to rest your voice and to drink plenty of fluids. Stay away from the citrus, dairy and caffeine. But if you have to use your voice, at least you’ll know why it’s misbehaving.

Safe in NYC

And with a belated gift from my little niece! Yes, the delightful germ-monger has presented Rob and myself with colds. His struck yesterday and mine began kicking in this morning. We’re fortifying ourselves with Chinese food and heading for bed early.

Waking up sick

Yesterday I began to have suspicion that the vocal fatigue I’d experienced Thursday night was actually the beginnings of a cold. Today, full blown sore throat. I am irritable; I had things I wanted to do today.

Reading Aloud: Singing while sick

I have a mild cold that I picked up from the germ factories that come aboard the boat to meet the Cinnamon Bear. It’s not bad, just a scratchy throat and fatigue–although I suppose the fatigue comes from other sources. Anyway, we carol as people are boarding. I enjoy this even though I’m scantily dressed in a fairy costume. What’s interesting about the way my voice functions when ill is that I lose my mid-range.

My speaking voice drops, but usually my head voice stays more or less clear. I can’t blend the two ranges at all. Now, this is a problem if I’m trying to belt Christmas Carols, (which uses the chest voice and blending) so I dealt with it by jumping up to my upper end and avoiding the midrange. So here’s me, speaking a couple of steps lower than normal, and then singing high soprano because that’s the only sound I’ve got reliable available. It’s useful to know how one’s voice behaves when sick.

Next time you have a cold, I want you to hum through your range. Start at the low end and hum up to the high end, then back down. Now, with me, my voice drops out on the way up the scale, and then comes back again. On the way down, I have more notes. It usually happens this way for me. I’ve been able to use this to compete, perform or audition by either picking pieces that fit the “sick” range or by adapting the work that I doing.

For a reading, I pitch my narrator higher than usual, to get above my dead zone. I save my suddenly deep low end for the male characters. It’s the only time I can really do a convincing male voice. I’ve always wished I were an alto because of that. It seems like it would be sooooo much more useful for voice work.

What does your voice do when you’re sick?

A new jaw

The jaw is creating two problems; it’s contributing to the ventilation issue, because it’s solid fiberglass, so is providing a shelf that the actor’s breath bounces against, shooting it up against the eyes. It’s also not fitting one of the actors well. This bear needs to be able to fit multiple people which provides challenges, since masks are usually built to fit one person. Particularly with a mouth that’s activated by the performer’s jaw, the mask needs to fit extremely snugly. The fiberglass, while providing clean movement if well-fitted, is too big for one of the actors.

So. To start with, I created a copy of the jaw in reticulated foam. I use a brand called drifast which is designed to wick moisture away in outdoor furniture. Hopefully, this will help with the venting issues. To get really specific and uber-jargony on you, I used 1-inch DriFast with 35 ppi (pores per inch). Copy of jaw in foam
Next, I stitched elastic to the exterior of it, in the same place I had elastic on the original fiberglass jaw. I also added a piece across the interior, which serves to two functions. It helps the jaw retain its shape and it also acts to cup the actor’s chin. Added elastic to jaw
I lined the jaw with black fabric, and covered the exterior with fur. One of the things that I love about reticulated foam is that you can stitch to it very easily and it’s tear-resistant. Lined interior with black
Once it was all covered, I installed it in the original location. To my surprise, this has better movement than the original fiberglass. Usually you think of going rigid for mechanism, but, I’m guessing, because of this is a really snug fit it responds more quickly to the jaw’s movement. Think of it like wearing a ski mask. Covered exterior with fur

Sadly, the thing still fogs, but it’s slower and not as hot so that’s movement in the right direction. I’ve been reading about defoggers for scuba divers. Most websites recommend spit. Somehow, I can’t see myself recommending spitting into a mask that’s supposed to be worn around sick children. There are actual products, so I’ll see if I can find any here.

Before anyone recommends it–there is no place to put a fan in the bear’s head and even if there were, it would not solve the humidity issue. I think we have oxygen flowing in the mask now, but the humidity is the next hurdle to deal with.

If the defogger doesn’t work, then I’ll try putting a vapor barrier between the eyes and the nose, but this will likely make it uncomfortable, so I’m trying to avoid that.

(For the puppet geeks reading this, I buy my foam here. They ship.)

Cursed disease monsters

I came down with the beginnings of a headcold on Monday and it went full bore today. This is what I get for working with kids. It’s been a year and a half since I got sick and now twice in two weeks. The common factor both times? I got sick the day after I worked with kids. I guess my defenses are lower now since I don’t tour to schools anymore.