I’m a big talker; I speak quickly, in long spurts, and quite often. In addition to constantly talking to my friends and family, I schmooze with people everywhere I go: cashiers in supermarkets, receptionists at my doctor’s office, teachers at Jayda’s school, ladies in the locker room at my gym. And when someone is telling me a story, I do my best to be a good listener—but I’m always waiting for the moment when I can chime in with a comment, or share my two cents. As the mother of a very inquisitive three-year-old who likes to talk as much as I do, you can imagine the conversations that go on in my house. And you can also imagine the nightmare this past week has been since I’ve lost my voice.
It all started with a nasal drip that I thought was the sign of a new weather-related allergy I must have developed. And that led to a persistent cough that nagged me for a few days and left me sounding pretty hoarse. After two days of talking through my discomfort (especially during play dates with good friends and their children, where we all had a lot to catch up on!), I woke up one morning with no voice. Nada. Just a whisper. And a raging sinus infection, too. A trip to my internist and some prescribed antibiotics have alleviated the infection and the ensuing headaches…but I still have no voice.
From my Speech Therapy classes I know that whispering is one of the most irritating things you can do to your vocal folds—especially when you have an injury—but I can’t avoid it. Even at the doctor’s office when another patient in the waiting room who had heard me whispering to the receptionist asked me, “How did you lose your voice?” I couldn’t resist answering him—in detail. And when I came home from the doctor, my parents peppered me with questions about my appointment, and I answered them, too. Most significantly, I can’t stop talking to Jayda. She never learned sign language, and she can’t yet read, so I have to communicate with her verbally…and often. Especially since she doesn’t quite “get” the fact that it’s bad for her mommy to speak—and constantly asks me questions—including not-very-important ones that she still instills with a sense of urgency. On a 30-minute car ride home the other day, she yelled “Mom!” from the backseat every three minutes. I was on the parkway and couldn’t turn my head to acknowledge her, so I had to say “What?!” as loudly as I could—every time. And when she continued, “Are we almost home?” I also found myself answering her every time with the same response: “Not yet, honey” (while mumbling to myself, “Would you shut up already?!”).
Part of our bedtime ritual is reading books together—anywhere from two to five titles, depending on the hour and the length of the books Jayda chooses. Often, Jayda insists on “reading” to me…but of course, now that I can’t speak well, she gets incredibly upset if I suggest she take over for a night. Last night, I whispered one entire book to her and she was content—but that was probably one book too many for my vocal folds.
As I’ve articulated before in my blog, Jayda is a very social child (and I’m a social mommy—constantly planning outings and play dates for us because staying home makes both of us nuts). So we’ve been seeing friends throughout my plight. It keeps me sane; but it’s probably not the healthiest thing to do. I need to “whisper-yell” at Jayda whenever she runs off out of my sight or does something she shouldn’t do, and I’m constantly tempted to chat away with a mommy-friend. I never realized how much conversation I could get out in a whisper. But at the end of the day, it’s also pretty painful.
Yesterday, Jayda offered to share her own “yucky cough medicine” with me to stop my coughing and to help me get my voice back—and she even kissed my throat to “make it feel better.” I wish recuperation were that easy. I have an appointment with the ENT today to find out what’s really going on, and I fear part of his prescription will be to “rest my voice.” That’s easy for him to say since his kids are all grown up. Maybe he can send one of them over to watch Jayda for me, because just as it’s always been—and especially as long as I’m caring for Jayda on my own—there’s no shutting me up.