Singing Through the Pain-Burning Mouth Syndrome

Kali SingingNOTE: Although this post will remain on Kali’s OQM Musings, future BMS posts will appear on A Burning Journey. Please check it out if you are interested in more about Burning Mouth Syndrome.

As those of you know who have visited this blog from time to time, I am a singer. In fact, when I die and my obituary goes into the paper, the first line will say, “She went to sing with her Savior…”

I don’t remember when I didn’t sing. Sometimes not so well, but with experimentation and practice comes expertise, and then there is always the question of talent. Not just hitting  notes perfectly, great pitch, phrasing or vocal range, but something a bit more ephemeral…

I have the ability to make people feel something when I sing.

When I experienced Burning Mouth Syndrome the second time, I became aware that speaking and singing increased the burning, and so two things happened. I withdrew from my usual extremely extroverted social schedule and I stopped singing at church. I might as well have lost a limb. The pain of not expressing myself grew over time, and I found myself crying at worship services because I could not understand why God would take away my instrument of praise to Him.

I eventually discovered that He did not. That instrument was still available to me, but it was going to take a decision, some effort, and a great deal of perseverance on my part to use it.

I had to sing through the pain.

If you are not a singer, dancer or athlete, I am not sure I can convey to you what that is like, but if you are, you know that sometimes you simply hit a physical or mental wall and the only way to scale it is to break through until you come out the other side.

Each Sunday morning I would start easy, warming up my vocal cords, and by the end of the service I made it my goal to be singing out in full voice. It wasn’t easy, and many times I questioned myself and my decision, but by the next Sunday I was ready to try again.

Would I have continued if I was actually damaging my voice or vocal cords?

No. But I had gone to specialists long ago who determined that this problem was not rooted in the vocal cords and so I knew that was not an issue.

It took months, but I seemed to turn a corner where the joy of the singing simply outweighed the discomfort, and if I kept on going, I actually got past it. This is not to say the burning went away. Nothing but eating, drinking, sleeping and medicine actually affect that, but it was bearable and the joy of expressing myself was more than worth it.

I started writing songs and sharing them with musical friends who were so supportive and giving of their time and creativity, and an entire new area of my art opened up for me.

Was this part of God’s plan?

I have no idea. Often I think about His reasons for things, and of course all I can do is guess. I know I am much more sensitive now to those in chronic pain and have a new appreciation for the strength they muster to get through each and every day. I have become aware and educated about a syndrome that affects only 2-5% of the population, and occasionally have been able to reach out to people who may be suffering from it to share what I have learned. I often wonder if there is something else He wants me to do with this experience…

Until then, as the song says, “How Can I Keep From Singing?” If you want to see a recent song I wrote and performed for Impact Austin‘s 10th anniversary – here it is! Enjoy, and I hope you get some of the pride and joy I felt as I wrote about these women who have done so much for the Central Texas community. They do this great work as a group and there is very little individual acknowledgement for the women involved, but collectively they know that their gift goes up to 500 times further than if they gave separately.

There is truly magic that happens when women join their hearts and their hands!

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