I Can Barely Say a Word. It’s an Interesting Situation

Sound waves with the silhouette of a face.

Yesterday, I lost my voice.

I woke up with a sore throat, then gave two long talks, back to back, at a conference and then — wham, my voice went out.

I thought it would be back this morning, but no luck. My sister and I were supposed to record an episode of our podcast, but that just wasn’t possible. When I told my husband I was going to try, he laughed. “You’re not recording anything today,” he said.

It doesn’t hurt when I try to talk — but practically nothing comes out.

It’s been a very interesting exercise in silence and listening. For instance, when I walked my younger daughter to this school this morning, it seemed odd not to chat. We often walk for several blocks in silence, but this time, we walked in silence the whole way. It was a companionable silence, but it wasn’t as companionable as talking.

On the other hand, she told me, “It’s very calming, your whispering. It’s like being in yoga. I feel like harps should be playing.” So that’s nice, I guess.

I’ve also realized how much I talk to my puppy Barnaby. I hope he doesn’t think I’m angry at him; I’m not saying a word, when usually I talk to him quite a bit — which I’d never realized.

This morning, I was on a conference call, and I explained by email ahead of time that I wouldn’t be able to talk much. I thought that I might listen more acutely, given that I wasn’t talking, but to my surprise, I found it harder to listen. It’s like knowing that you’re going to be called on in class — you pay more attention when you know you might be put on the spot. Because I knew no one would expect me to participate, I felt less pressure, so I had to work harder to stay focused.

One hilarious thing: when I have to talk, it’s much easier to whisper, and people always whisper back to me! Apparently, it’s very tough to speak in a normal voice to someone who’s whispering.

It has been an interesting, if involuntary, experience, but I sure hope my voice is back tomorrow.

Have you ever lost your voice? How did the silence and the listening affect you?

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