I’m home sick today.
I’ve been feeling a little tired and not quite myself for a while. Then for the last four or five days I’ve noticed that my throat felt raw – not exactly sore, but more dry and prickly. And now my voice is low and scratchy-sounding, and it fades in and out. For a teacher, a voice like that is bad. So I’ve taken a sick day, and if my voice doesn’t improve, I may have to take tomorrow off as well.
I’ve had some trouble with my voice for years. This may or may not be a catastrophe, depending upon whether you are the person who likes to talk (me) or the person who is forced to listen (everybody else). I’ve always wondered if it’s because I was a cheerleader in high school and we had to yell so much. I was good at yelling – and DD says I’m still good at it. I also think that my natural volume is a bit loud, judging from the number of people during my lifetime who have requested, more or less politely, that I tone it down (not to name any names, PG).
When I first started teaching, lo these many years ago, I regularly suffered from laryngitis. I think in my first year of teaching alone it was three or four times. And when you have no voice at all, it’s very difficult to call the office and a) tell them you are taking a sick day, and b) request that they book a substitute teacher for you. Many times I would go to work that first voiceless day and stumble through, then write the secretary a note asking her to call the substitute office for me to book a replacement for the next two days. That was quite a challenge, too, teaching Grade 1 French Immersion with no voice. I mean, the kids have barely been exposed to French and certainly aren’t reading fluently in French yet, so it doesn’t even help to write instructions on the board. I usually ended up miming a lot, to the kids’ great delight, but was that ever exhausting!
After a few bouts of this, I finally went to my doctor, who with his wonderful bedside manner, cheerfully informed me that my voice might eventually get so bad that I’d have to quit teaching. There wasn’t actually anything he could do, he continued. His only real advice was to stop talking as soon as my voice started to fade, and to even stop whispering because that’s quite a strain on the vocal cords too, apparently.
I changed doctors.
But I have tried to stop talking or whispering as soon as the voice thing begins. And over the years, it has gotten much better and I haven’t lost it entirely for a very long time, so I suppose that doctor’s advice was sound.
So here I am at home, trying not to talk or whisper or sing or hum or make any noise at all. Instead, I’m typing. If you have anything to say to me, email me.