Friday, January 7, 2011


I caught a cold a few days ago.

This is not big news, since I catch approximately four colds a year (one for every season). However, this cold topped the charts in terms of vocal destruction.

Monday, my throat felt a little wheezy. Tuesday, my voice got a little raspy. Wednesday, I suffered through a day of work in intense pain, unable even to complain because my voice had been depleted to a whisper, and every whisper hurt like a scream. Let me tell you, as someone who talks to herself pretty much continuously, I found it nearly as painful mentally to endure a full day of silence. My internal monologue was obliged to stay internal--and that hurt! People would come past my work station and make little comments--comments to which I usually make other little comments in reply. But this time I could only smile, or nod, or wheeze out a little laugh. I felt so isolated!

The worst part was about midway through the day, when one of my coworkers came by and decided to have a conversation with me. The conversation mostly consisted of me trying to explain what was wrong with me, without seriously injuring myself in the process. I failed miserably. When I turned to put away a bag of sesame sticks, I whacked my hand hard into the shelf--in the exact spot where I'd cut myself and gotten stitches the previous Sunday. When I took out the stitches yesterday, I was surprised by how much my finger still hurt, until I remembered this occurrence. I had hit it so badly, I bruised the entire knuckle.

Maybe it was a good thing I had no voice right then, because I would have screamed bloody murder if I could have. As it was, I had to choke it back and stomp on the floor instead. As one of my friends commented later, "Not a satisfying way to express pain." And of course I wept bitter tears in front of my coworker. But that happens so often that I'm sure he wasn't surprised.

By the time I left work that evening, my throat hurt so badly that my entire body hurt. Or maybe I had a fever, since I also felt chilled to the bone. My walk home in the cold was torture, but a few minutes of inhaling steam from a teapot followed by a good long huddle in bed set me to rights.

Yesterday, my throat felt much better (although all the congestion had moved up into my nose), and today, the average listener probably can't even detect anything wrong with my voice. But I have learned a valuable lesson. I should never take a vow of silence.