News & Reviews
I GOT A GIG AND IíM SICK!!
this email was sent out on: 11:54:28 PM Sun., October 9, 2005

O.K. Here we go. Itís allergy time. Itís flu season. Everyoneís passing around the same cold around the van/bus/plane. Whatís a babe or boy to do?

Vocal damage is usually preceded by the combination of an illness and a lack of sleep. That lethal combination leads to a situation that is hard to beat amidst a rigorous performance schedule.

The major bad guys are MUCOUS and LOW ENERGY. Thatís what we have to get a handle on. So, if the stuff is in your nose and not your lungs, you can perform through it. Just know that the energy level is off and you are likely to inadvertently push too hard because your breathing is on automatic low energy and you donít even know it. Use the rib cage expansion awareness in the DVD to help you along. You can even use the heaviness in the sinuses to imagine an ďabove the pencilĒ place to blow through (that will only make sense to those who have the DVD!) Youíll get through this show even though you might feel like crap. Make sure that you stay hydrated so that the snot doesnít turn to play-doh. This is where the steam and humidifiers come into play. In the winter, when the heat is on indoors, the humidity level drops to about 15-19%. Your voice doesnít like that at all. The dry air also hardens that stuff already in your nose and your body creates more mucous to hydrate the tissues (DRINK WATER to avoid this!). A humidifier running can bring the level up to about 25-28%. The ideal level is 50-60%, but that 25% is better than nothing! The only problem with room humidifiers is that they can cause a residual dampness that breeds mold and bacteria. And, you have to keep the units clean themselves so that they donít become full of algae and bong water! I think the best thing to do is to breathe steam in the shower for 20 minutes or purchase a portable vaporizer/inhaler and do it a couple of times a day along with drinking the water. If you are a chronic allergy sufferer, try to pinpoint your trouble seasons and take steps to prevent the havoc that ensues when it is your troubled time. Steroidal nose inhalants like Nasonex and Flonase are miraculous if they are used as a preventative measure; in other words, they take 7 days to kick in. What they do is to strengthen the mucous membranes against over reacting to the antigens (pollen, dust, whatever your poison is). Antihistamines, such as Claritin (over the counter now), Allegra, and Zyrtec, will stop the histamine activity (thatís what triggers the snot machine) but they will also dry you out- again, DRINK WATER. Not dealing with allergic episodes can lead to constant sinus infections. This chronic situation can be very damaging. The retention of mucous can cause inflammation and scarring that can result in constant sinusitis and even bronchitis. I remember saying, ďAllergies? I donít have allergies- I never had allergies when I was a kid!Ē Thatís when the doc broke it gently. When you get older, the immune system isnít quite as facile as it used to be. Just about everybody gets allergies at some point as they get older. Damn.

If the mucous is in your chest- THIS is where vocal hell comes in. The snot often drips down and finds nice little nesting places in the nooks and crannies of your poor lungs. Guess what the snot finds on the way down? Yep- you guessed it, your VOCAL CORDS. When it rests on the cords, they canít close properly without extra force because they are being attacked by a mudslide of Elmerís glue. If the gunk you are coughing up is solid, dark green or yellow green brown- get thee to a doctor and to see if you need some antibiotics. If it is clear/milky brown yellow, chances are you are probably being attacked by your allergies. This diagnoses, are, unfortunately, not an exact science. If your doctor suggests that your condition is viral, then antibiotics are useless. However, if it is bacterial, the antibiotics will do the trick. Often a bacterial infection results from a viral one. Pick up some yogurt or acidophilus pills on the way home to avoid the yeast infection they can sometimes cause. Avoid performing if you are coughing a lot. Coughing is like screaming badly. Learn to cough with as open a throat as possible with lots of air moving through it. Try to resist the urge to cough it all up at once violently. MUCINEX is wonderful over the counter stuff that helps to dilute the viscosity of the mucous so that it is easier to get rid of. Also, I swear by Dr, Kesslerís* vapors. I put 3-4 drops of his amazing menthol/eucalyptus drops in a coffee mug of boiling water and place the larger part of a funnel over the top. I sip the steam through the stem of the funnel and it clears my chest. If you HAVE to perform, and you are dealing with bronchitis, you need to do complete vocal rest between shows, drink plenty of water, sleep regularly and do the speech warm-up before getting out of bed. Breathe 20 minutes of steam in the shower. Do a light warm-up only or speech warm-up from the DVD again two hours before the gig. Then, absolutely NO TALKING!!!. Write notes. And I hope you know NEVER to whisper again, because that is worse than screaming badly. If you have laryngitis (that means, hoarseness), you have bronchitis (that means a rumbling cough) and you are on tour, you are bound for pre-nodular hell without assistance. You may need to find a local ENT to get you some medication. The swelling from the coughing and the compromised performance conditions could get you into some trouble that is hard to transcend without assistance.

I know that some of you donít like doctors, drugs or donít have insurance. I will deal with holistic remedies in another newsletter.

Be well and hang in there this winter!

Melissa










* Dr, Kessler has been my ENT here in NYC for over 20 years. He helped me with the DVD, medical sketches on the website and he has helped many of my clients. He is the ENT for everyone from Mick Jagger, Madonna and Mariah Carey to Anthrax, Killswitch Engage, Still Remains and A Dozen Furies and more. Let me know if you are interested in getting Dr. Kesslerís vapors and Iíll hook you up!





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