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Sunday, October 21, 2012


I was at choir rehearsal on Thursday night.

I have written before how hard it is for me to get through it, having to use my eye and therefore triggering the severe pain.

I was wearing my sunglasses.  Since the failure of the stimulator a few months back, I have found it harder to tolerate brightness, especially the bright light in that room.  It is more difficult too because of the amount of times I need to move my eyes, especially having to look up towards the light when I want to look at the choir director.

I cannot read the music without regular glasses.  I have taken to wearing them over the sunglasses when we are singing.

I know the pain gets worse because of the reading of the music.  Often we are asked to look at page (so and so) measure (such and such).  That means turning the pages , looking up and down the page - another equation of pain.

None of this is new.

For some reason it was bothering me more this week: why am I having such a problem here?  I wear sunglasses sometimes indoors and always outside.  The weight of them can be bothersome but not usually pain inducing.  The added weight, even the fraction of an ounce, really a fraction of a fraction, makes the pressure against my skin worse.  This triggers more of the pain.

The paralysis has made my skin on the left side of my face tight.  Singing forces me to open and close my mouth a lot, forcing movement of the skin, making more pain.

Almost every rehearsal and every Sunday when we sing, I think I can't keep doing this.  It is too much.  I can't take the the pain.   But I keep coming back. 

It is all I have.  It is also something I love to do; to sing, and to have a place where I need to be, at least 2 times a week.  (I have joined a chorus too but it is only a handful of us, the music is easy, the rehearsal time shorter, and the pain is much less a concern or triggered.)  Last week I asked myself,  does it have to be this way?

I always think that but this time the thought was different.

I took it further.  What am I doing that I do not need to do?  How can I fix this so it is not always a pushme/pullme?

I need to wear the glasses.  That cannot be changed.

I need to look at the music, to go through the 5 or 6 different songs to find the one we are working on.  I cannot change that.

I had stopped, a long time ago, searching for the part the director wants us to notice.  I have a pretty good ear and can often hear the issues he is pointing out.

A few months ago I told our director that I may have to drop out of singing some of the songs in rehearsal.  I assured him I was still learning them through hearing.  I thought that would help, which it has, but not as much as I had hoped.

What else am I doing wrong?  I am using my face.  As a soprano it helps me to open my mouth wider for the higher notes.  This week I recognized that the glasses plus the movement of my face was a major component of the increase of the pain.

I have decided that I will keep my mouth more closed, I will not worry about my pronunciation.  Singing the words is important but I am learning them.  I will sing them more pronounced when we perform the song for the congregation.

Everything I do each rehearsal seems necessary.  I have to wear the glasses.  I have to look up and down and over and around.  I have to manipulate my mouth to make good word sounds and so on.

You know what?  No.  I do not.  I can stop doing one or two things.  They will not change my experience of learning and singing but they may help me.  How much remains to be seen.

I have learned that often we do things by rote, not realizing what it is specifically that is causing us pain.

Next time you are doing whatever it is that is a pain promoting action, think about it, what do you have to do to do what it is you are doing?  Can you do it differently?  Sit instead of stand?  Put your computer or something else that you need in a different place?  Have the meeting come to you instead of you go to it?

People sometimes say to me "You have a big mouth".  Making it smaller is one way I can change the pain, maybe.  It is well worth the try.

Is there something, or some things, you can do that seem small but may turn out to be enormously to your benefit?


  1. Keep using your muscles if you don't they will seize making the pain worse. Have you ever let someone massage your face? I have and yes it may hurt but the benefits outweighs the pain

  2. It would be a good idea but I cannot do that because of the amount of pain it would cause. I do stretching exercises of it though.
    Thanks for the suggestion (and for reading and commenting)