After wrasslin’ my way through the first real illness I’ve had in about eight years, I found myself, well – losing my voice. Mind you, right after I finally started feeling like a human being again, instead of a rattling, sneezing, coughing personal hazmat unit. I worked from home for two weeks, making only one appearance in the office for a meeting. I believe in keeping my germs at home thanks, rather than infecting the ward. Since I caught it from work, I can tell you very few people do so. But then again, I am fortunate that I can work remotely; everyone in the office cannot, so in they come hacking, sneezing and spreading the cheer among everyone. This happens every year in our office. But this time it coincided with an emotional wallop that left my normally Hulk-like immune system completely in David Banner mode. My ribs felt like someone had used me for Cage Match practice. My nose was so tender I wore chapstick on it. So yeah, I was sick. Then I felt BETTER! And lost my voice. I croaked along for a couple of days, until no one could make hide nor hair of what I was saying on conference calls. My boss would call me just to have a good laugh in the afternoon – he’s rather silly that one. Finally I broke down and called my Doctor. Orders? Complete silence for a minimum of five days. Say whhhhhhhat? I work you know. I answer the phone. I give instructions to engineers. I run vendor calls and scads of meetings. Talking is a large part of my job. Nope. No talking at all, especially whispering – because whispering is extremely stressful on ones vocal chords. I didn’t know that. So I was a little stumped.
First off, I sent an E-mail to everyone that normally calls me, drops by my desk or generally interacts with me via voice and explained the restrictions. We use Lync at work, so most of what I need to say can be communicated in instant messaging. Thankfully my fingers didn’t fall off as well, and I’m a pretty speedy typist. The next round of E-mail went to my family – no phone calls please, E-mail or text only. And then the final one went to my girlfriends. This last one, it is a toughie. I’ve done a weekly chat with my bestie now for years. This might be the first one we’ll miss in three or four years, maybe longer.
I made a little post-it note name tag type thing that read ” I can’t talk, I have laryngitis.” I carried a small notepad around with me for when charades and mouthing things wouldn’t cut it. Then I remembered that I had to go to the bank. Crap. Then I got the giggles (silent ones mind you). When I push a note to the teller, will they think I am robbing the place? A couple of my engineers thought this might be a YouTube moment in the making, and considered following me, until I stared them out of the idea. Hey, I’m a Mom – I know how to stop things with just a look – lots of practice over the years. I’m happy to report that no one thought I was robbing the bank when I pointed to my ‘laryngitis’ tag and then passed them a note. Maybe it was because I was making deposits, not withdrawals, who knows? But everyone talks louder to you when you are unable to speak. Perhaps there is a mental connection in people that says ‘ mute people cannot hear either’. It was kind of interesting. It happened at the bank and at the office. I normally go to Dunkin’ Donuts when I make a bank run, but I couldn’t figure out how to order in the drive-thru without looking like a dork, so I skipped it. I needed gas also, but thankfully the pumps don’t require talking, just stuffing your card in the slot and pressing buttons. Upon my return to the office, the engineers were waiting by my parking spot, and made lots of jokes about the lack of sirens and such. It’s nice to bring laughter to the office .
This whole thing though, got me to thinking. What if you couldn’t talk? What do people who honestly can’t talk do to get through our talk-centric culture? Do we all talk louder to them by some weird chance? When was the last time you interacted with someone who could not talk? Yeah, I can’t remember one either. So where are the people that cannot talk? Do they avoid us? Do they feel like outcasts? Do they smile more, so that people don’t think that they are simply rude? Just weird thoughts that ran about in my brain while I’m trying not to talk.
Things I discovered once I was told “No Talking!” I talk to myself, a lot. I sing or hum in the car – also a no-no. The dog expects a verbal greeting when I come through the door, and looks a little wounded when he doesn’t get one. I am thankful that I can work from home, as no one is here to try to talk to me, and not being IN the office makes me less obviously retarded while wearing my little ‘can’t talk’ sign. I am thankful that I live alone – imagine the notes required to carry on a relationship based conversation. Hmmm, although charades could be interesting…
Today, while outside by the pond on a break, I reveled in the water sounds. No one followed me outside to talk because, well, I can’t talk. So in the silence I heard an owl pair calling to each other! It was right about dusk and they were in the cypress preserve. My face about split with the smile. I haven’t heard an owl pair since I was last at Sunflower Solace last year. I need something to smile about. My heart has been rather heavy lately, during this letting go phase. So many things that I do not understand yet about people. So much still for me to learn. And there is still a lot of healing for me to do. I didn’t just lose my voice, I rather lost a piece of my heart as well. I wish I were in the woods, or in a garden, so that I could work out the pain through the ground, by walking it or digging in it.
Oh, how I wish that I could!
But for now, chin up buttercup (yeah, I’m typing to myself, since I can’t TALK to myself, lol!)
Be well. Heal thoroughly. We just have to go through it, in order to get past it.