Thursday, October 18, 2012

No Voice

Have you ever lost your voice?

I've done it before. I'm not talking about 'oh I have a bad sore throat and I sound like a blues singer', I mean really absolutely no ability to produce sound with your vocal cords. For me, it usually involves a combination of being a bit under the weather (an expression by the way which the French do not understand at all), and sustained yelling/screaming/cheering. For example, in high school I had a sore throat one weekend when we had a football game on Friday night followed by an all day competition on Saturday. It took almost a week for my voice to fully recover. This time however there was no screaming involved. My sore throat wasn't even that bad actually. Tuesday morning I had the mildest of mild coughs. I took some Dayquil and forgot about it. Wednesday I couldn't make a sound. Today was not any better. Oh yes, I've been keep up with all the usual remedies: hot tea, gargling with salt water, drinking plenty of fluids, staying away from dairy products, sucking cough drops, but the reality is that all you can really do is wait for your vocal cords to heal.

In the meantime, you're stranded. For anyone who's been in this situation, it's infuriating. You don't realize how much you use your voice. Even if you cut out all the meaningless jibber jabber, you still need to do quite a bit of talking to go through your day. But the chit chat is important too. When you're used to talking with friends over lunch or wherever, it's hard to be deprived of that social interaction. Sure you can listen, but you can't take part in the conversation. In high school I carried around a miniature whiteboard to help me get through some of the little stuff during the day, but it certainly wasn't a replacement for the ability to speak. It's frustrating to listen and be unable to contribute, to have something to say and not be able to say it. Sometimes that's what it's like to be in a foreign country. You have no choice but to be silent. Everyone around you is talking and carrying on, but you're living with a mute button. Your ability to communicate is limited and conversation is difficult and slow. It can frustrating and infuriating, because you're used to talking. It will get better, you'll get your voice back, but all you can do for the moment is wait it out.

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