Thursday, April 17, 2008

Trying Not to Slap Them Together

Some of my friends who read my blog tell me that they can "hear" my voice in my writing. They say that they can picture me having a conversation with them. But what happens if I lose my voice? I mean for real.

Several years ago, I lost my voice for six months. It used to disappear for a few days after a cold, but six months was a wee bit long. So I saw an otolaryngologist, who put a small camera down my throat--after numbing it, that is. Gag me. He saw nodules on my vocal chords. Any amateur singer knows that nodules are a kiss of death to your voice.

So I went to a speech therapist who taught me how to talk so as to not slap my vocal chords together. Whispering is bad. Talking in your pitch is good. Coffee is bad. Room temperature water is good. Speaking on the phone is bad. Listening to someone else talk, instead, is good. Saying the hard "c" is bad. Skipping those sounds is good. ("Let's _onfer by the _offee table in _lark's office on the _orner.") I'm not joking.

I studied the hand-outs that she gave me and decided that the most important things to remember was to talk in my pitch and drink water (albeit, I like it ice cold). When she asked me what I had learned from the new instructions she passed out the week before, I would shrug. I just needed my voice back. I didn't feel that it was necessary to memorize the positive attributes of tea with honey.
Eventually, I regained my voice and once again was able to yell at to my children from across the house.

My voice has felt fragile now for at least two months. When I talk, I sound like Bonnie Tyler. It takes more and more energy to get my words out, so sometimes I don't even try (big cheer from those in my household).

The trip to Yosemite in March was the turning point in convincing me that I didn't have much time left of the vocal chord meter. I didn't drink enough water while I was there and I was traveling with friends. All we did was talk. That's the fun of it. Thirteen hours in the car--we gabbed. In the 15-seater, there was much noise from the van, the occupants, and the road. So, of course, I had to talk over all of that because everything I had to say was important enough for me to risk being mute in order to express it.

I should probably see someone about it. The only problem is that I'd rather go in for a colonoscopy than have a camera stuck down my throat again. I could use some speech therapy, but where would I ever find the time? Besides, my lack of verbalization seems to make everyone around me so happy. I'm trying to use the lessons that I learned from the last speech therapist, but I still run to the phone when it rings. When I answer, people mistake me for my husband, who sang bass when we were in the high school choir together.

I take a deep breathe in order to blow out all of my words and say, "No, this is _arol."