The Gift of Laryngitis
When I woke up Sunday morning, I hoped my voice was better than the night before, but it was worse. A day managing the admissions of a salsa tasting fundraiser (attended by 20,000 people) had done incredible damage on my already sore throat.
Barely able to whisper, I made calls for help with my Primary class and sharing time. Getting ready for church was interesting, with me gesturing to my husband (brush his hair and teeth) and doing signs to my children (we watch Singing Time videos together, so they understand a lot).
Although I’ve had a scratchy voice in the past, I’ve never lost my voice entirely, until now. It’s really hard. I admit to being an extrovert and very talkative, but I didn’t realize how much I talk until I couldn’t do it anymore.
So, the lessons I’ve learned from this day (and hopefully not many days more, please!) of laryngitis have been rather profound.
People need me, but not necessarily to talk to them: to help them. I’m actually surprised at how well I can do my job without talking.
Since the saying, “Don’t waste your breath” means more to me lately, I realize how much I am inclined to criticize, demand, or control. Today I’ve whispered the really important things, but let the less important things slip. And everyone benefits. My husband was making fun of me to his friends at church, “Jess is mad at me (for leaving us out in the hot car after church), but she can’t chew me out because she can’t talk!” He thinks this is great news.
I am usually the center of all my conversations. Now that I can’t talk, I am forced to listen. It’s amazing what people, including my family, will say if I don’t interrupt them. Wow.
People at church, myself included, make passing comments without caring for answers. I was surprised at how many people talked to me throughout the block who didn’t realize that I couldn’t talk back. I know I do the same thing. So in the future I will try to wait for responses from people I bump into at church, instead of making drive-by comments, “I like your skirt.” week after week. That’s not a good way to really get to know people.
Lastly, I’ve realized that speaking and singing are great gifts. My mom who has always had a beautiful voice recently lost the ability to sing because of a paralyzed vocal chord. I’m beginning to realize how difficult this is for her. At least for now, I’m not taking the ability to speak (and sing) for granted.
A few practical tips, in case laryngitis is in your future. Use a humidifier, don’t use decongestants (they can dry you out), and don’t whisper because it puts more stress on your vocal chords than talking (who knew?).
(I guess the best part of laryngitis is that I can still blog!)