The Voice

It happens every year, sometime in September. I come home one day from school and I'll notice that my throat is a little sore. I'll brush it off, soldier on, but the next day it's worse. I'm forced to acknowledge that yes, my throat hurts. I up my water intake, pop a cough drop or two. Two days of knives in my throat whenever I swallow and suddenly, it doesn't hurt so much. Which would be wonderful, except now the symptoms have moved to my nose. Suddenly my nose is running so much I just shove a tissue up there and hope for the best. Or on the flip side, my nose is stuffed up worse than the Downtown Connecter on a Friday afternoon in the rain while the President's motorcade is in town. Forget breathing. I start wishing the sore throat would come back, remembered the good old days when oxygen flowed freely through my nostrils. Hey, I'd even take 50 percent nostril capacity. I start downing Mucinex, the elixir of the sinus gods, like I'm singlehandedly responsible for keeping the company in business. (The pharmacists are required to take your driver's license information when you buy the good stuff behind the counter, but between Matt and I, we keep the medicine cabinet stocked. When it doubt, buy the biggest box they have!) The Mucinex does its job, but there is a price to pay. Yes, I can breath. But now things in the chest are breaking up, moving. The cough, its low, gravely rumble, its wet hack, begins. Better out than in, I always say, but what is coming up and out is disgusting.

But the worst part is, somewhere between the knives in throat and the Mucinex habit, my voice has disappeared. First its a scratch, some throat-clearing as I try to explain the day's activities. Then there's the break in the voice, causing the students to laugh with a concerned look on their faces - something isn't right. Adults joke about the "sexy bedroom voice" and I joke back about my two-pack-a-day habit. But by the end of the day, the voice is a whisper. Speaking is agony. Forcing sound through my throat is a monumental, painful effort with little to no payoff. And it's only Tuesday. I have to survive through the end of the week. I'm now buying stock in fresh lemons, locally-sourced honey and hot tea. I resolve not to speak unless absolutely necessary. (For the record, when you teach first grade, absolutely necessary talking points account for about 87 percent of your day.)

And, you guys, this happens every year. At least once.

Not being able to speak is so isolating. Conversations happens around me, as it normally does, but I'm not engaged because I can't contribute back. Since I can't share my own two cents, I just let the words wash around me, like I'm the boulder in the middle of the rushing stream. There is some nodding, shrugging, smiling. But I feel invisible. It's hard to have an opinion, knowing I won't be able to proclaim it. It's almost easier just to be alone, where my silence is expected. No wonder people take vows of silence when they need to disconnect from the world. When you can't vocally weigh in on the latest gossip, you tend to not form an opinion.

The slow, uphill climb towards health begins. The voice strengthens, gets pushed too far, falters again, then regains momentum. The Mucinex usage slows. I'm no longer needing 42 tissues an hour. And this year, the gift of Fall Break was awaiting me at the end of my trial. I'm hopeful that a week off will leave me fully recovered. And ready to share my opinion on the latest celebrity scandal. Oh wait... nope, still don't care.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...