What Happens When You Stop Singing (or Thank You, Universe, for The Ear Infection) – Part II

On August 23rd, I go to the ENT for an ear infection. I’ve never had an ear infection before in my life. I'm really healthy, and don't even have a primary care doctor. 

I wouldn’t even be at this ENT if this ear infection weren’t really, really persistent, resisting 3 courses of antibiotics (which I haven’t been on in years – did I mention I’m really healthy?) and multiple visits to the GP at the Emergency Care Center.

Thank you, Universe, for getting me to a real ear doctor.

So after the ENT vacuums the wax out my ear (ouch), he catches a glimpse of my neck and says, "Whoa, that's a big mass you've got there."

It’s funny, but my reaction is a total lack of alarm.

Six days later, the ultrasound guy confirms it is, indeed, big: a  6.7 cm nodule on the left side of my thyroid (which is shaped like a butterfly, for those of us ignorant about thyroids). The size gets a Wow out of him, but also some comforting perspective (he sees nodules all the time - though maybe not this big).

I remain unalarmed.

The next day I have a biopsy (a FNA, for you detail-oriented types), and a few days later I get the results. 15-20% chance the nodule is cancerous. That's not very high, I think. ENT thinks I should take it out (the thyroid, that is, at least the left side, and maybe the right, too, while they're in there).

Really, I think? That low a risk, and take it out? Just like that? 

Better safe than sorry ( which I can get). And even if that nodule isn’t cancerous, it is really big. 

I'm not so sure. And still unalarmed. 

Three days later, I luck into a cancellation from the endocrinologist (again, thank you, Universe). His recommendation: take the thyroid out (again, Really?). Though he does say it would be safe to wait a few months, get a second biopsy, maybe even a second opinion on that biopsy, then there would be a greater degree of certainty on the cancer front. But even if it isn’t cancerous - you guessed it: it’s awful big. Get it out.

And yes – I'm unflaggingly unalarmed. Kinda strange. Kinda nice.

I do get their point of view. The nodule will (may?) keep growing. It will require regular oversight. It may be a constant cause of concern (or not).

I do hear their advice. They are excellent physicians. I like them. I trust them. They see thyroid problems all the time. This is standard operating procedure (literally). 

I ask both doctors what caused the nodule. Neither hazards a guess. It seems – irrelevant?

I ask both doctors if there’s a way to shrink the size of the nodule, since size seems as much a concern as the cancer. Neither makes a suggestion (the one option, radioactive iodine, is not an option).

They tell me the thyroid is merely a sort of factory. It manufactures certain hormones, but doesn’t decide how much of them to make or how to use them. They tell me there are manmade hormones indistinguishable from the real ones the thyroid makes, and that 95% of people take that one pill a day (for life) and never notice the difference.

The doctors believe taking out my thyroid is no biggie.

I believe the parts of the body are amazingly, magically, beautifully interconnected.

I believe the mind has tremendous control over the body.

I believe I’m not going to “take it out.” Not yet.

As Dr. Bernie Siegel says in his book, Love, Medicine and Miracles, “physical symptoms are often only the ‘tickets of admission’ to a process of self-discovery and spiritual change.”

He then quotes a poem by the French poet, Guillaume Apollinaire about taking a leap of faith:

Come to the edge.
No, we will fall.
Come to the edge.
No, we will fall.
They came to the edge.
He pushed them, and they flew.


Am I going to fly – am I going to fall? What do I do next?

(on the subject of flying - take a break with this classic Steve Miller tune. You gotta check out the lyrics. Who knew you shoed children??) 

What Happens When You Stop "Singing"? (or Thanks, Universe, for the Ear Infection)

I have a confession to make.

I told myself when I started Hope Sings that it was all about helping people – to empower women, to “harness the power of song and story to change the world.” My stated mission was to put the power of inspiring true story back into pop music – to Sing Stories and Change Lives (to misquote our tag-line). Sounds good, right?

In my heart, I knew a big part of why I started Hope Sings was for me. I wanted to swim in a bigger pop/international pond than the musical theatre one where I’d been. I dreamed of writing with all different kinds of big exotic fish, traveling the world as I created huge hit songs.

We have had many satisfying successes - our songs supporting microfinance, our Songs for Sandy initiative, the anthem for UN Women. I believe we have helped people. And I know I've written next to nothing in the four years since I started Hope Sings

And now I find myself facing a crisis – a crisis of inspiration.

I am facing it because of an ear infection.

A summer swim with my son, an overactive Q-Tip, a stubborn plug of earwax, a visit to an ENT who noticed something I hadn't – and today, here I am looking at what truly inspires me, what my real talents are, and what happens when you stop singing - literally and metaphorically.

I've pondered whether this line of posting of belongs with Hope Sings. But I think there is something worth sharing about this journey I'm beginning. Another more personal aspect to the idea of hope and singing.

In recent weeks, my energy and attention has shifted from creating songs and shows to another use of my creative energies - healing myself. And trying to uncover where the disease (or "dis-ease" as Esther Hicks calls it - genius) came from.

I believe that when you are blocked creatively - or in any part of your life, since your life is your biggest and best creation - disease will follow. So letting yourself Sing - and letting your hopes and dreams Sing - isn't just nice, it's fundamental. It's key to wellness and thriving, a matter of life and death - as much as microloans are essential to women in Latin America. 

More on What the ENT Saw in the next post.

But first: a song that reminds us how SINGING defines who you are (however you define singing) – whether you achieve “Success” or not. Jim Croce’s “I’ve Got A Name”:

Like the North wind whistling down the sky

I've got a song
, I've got a song

Like the whip-poor-will and the babies crying

I've got a song, I've got a song

And I carry it with me and I sing it proud

If it gets me nowhere, I'll go there proud

Moving me down the highway

Rolling me down the highway

Moving ahead so life won't pass me by.