Sunday, December 5, 2010

Voiceless Hoarse

It's that time of year again. This year has been a little worse than before as far as the sinus drainage accompanying the weather changes. (I'm afraid little O has gotten my predisposition for mucous. I'm 2 for 2 with the mucous and allergies, and Eli's 2 for 2 with the blond hair and blue eyes...) Anyway, I was tutoring at Sylvan on Wednesday night and I realized that my voice was starting to sound adolescent. The next morning, I was completely hoarse. My students would imitate my voice cracking and then laugh. I tolerated their joking. By Friday, I was mute.

Now, my students were actually very good while I couldn't talk, and thankfully it was a library day, so there wasn't much talking to be done anyway. But what is a teacher without a voice? It made me really wish that all the technological equipment was already set up in my classroom so that I could have easily weathered this storm. Instead, I had a designated student speak for me. I would whisper to them and they would make the announcement. It was actually kind of funny. By the end of the day, I had a typed, numbered list of everything I needed to say and I would just have to say numbers to my vocal representative. Eli was at drill this weekend, so I couldn't even talk to him on the phone Friday night--we had to Google chat.

On Saturday, I had a little squeak back, and I had to go to the bank. I didn't think this through before I left and realized halfway there that I would have to actually speak to the lady through the drive-thru speaker. I tried really hard, and their end must be very sensitive because she seemed to understand all my little squeaks. The lady said that I sounded a little hoarse and wanted to know if I was getting sick. (She was kind--I was pretty much voiceless.) I told her that this was actually the sound of me getting better!

We had the pleasure of spending Saturday celebrating Christmas with our fabulous neighbors. His 4-year-old daughter is here for three weeks so they did early Christmas for her so she can play with her toys while she is here. I had dinner with them on Friday night and she asked me why I was whispering to her. I tried to explain about the drainage, but really, how do you explain that to a 4-year-old? Even the phrase "lost my voice" was incomprehensible to her (I'm pretty sure I saw the wheels turning as she wondered where I could have lost it...). Finally, she just turned to my neighbor and said, "A---, why is she being quiet?"

So Saturday, with the whole family around, I felt really stupid because I couldn't really talk to anyone and socialize. Thankfully Elsie puts on a really good show and she did all the talking that needed to be done on behalf of the Beaver family. She was a hit.

Today I went to church not realizing how traumatizing it would be to sit in the service while everyone sings the Christmas hymns that I love and not be able to sing the alto parts (or ANY part) that I know because to open my mouth would unleash a flurry of squeaks and cracks. It was both humbling and painful. Anyone who knows me in my adult life knows that I just love hyms and SATB parts where I can read the alto part (something that I picked up from being a Beaver). I've been doing it long enough now that I do a pretty good job with hymns we sing regularly. At first I viewed today as lost, a missed opportunity to show my stuff, but then I was able to concentrate on the words to the hymns without worrying about the music and finally the focus was in the right place. To God be the glory.

One thing that has become painfully clear is that I still, after all these years and all those admonishing report card notes, LOVE to talk. I found myself the other day dreaming about what a nightmare it would be for me if the voicelessness were a permanent condition! What a handicap to have! Would I even be able to have one of those little computer microphones that reads my voice box vibrations, a la Stephen Hawking? (We had a family friend who had had throat cancer when we were little, and she used one of those--we thought for sure she was a robot.) And then I wondered how I would feel about my children never hearing my voice again. It would be weird and heartbreaking for me.

Thankfully, my voice is coming back. There is actual vocalization today, but I've been trying to minimize it. It's the little things that we take for granted. Again, thank you, Lord, because I'm not a very good mime.


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