It has been quiet around here lately. After surgery on my vocal cords on January 17, the doctor put me on a No Talking and No Whispering regimen for a week so that my vocal cords would heal. However, I was allowed to communicate by writing.
So I assigned my husband, Tom, the task of speaking on my behalf. Tom took his job seriously. He is usually soft-spoken, but for the week, he became loud-spoken. So loud that I made a sign saying “I am not deaf.” It reminded me of how frequently we speak to people with ANY type of disability (deaf, blind, mute, developmentally disabled, those with Parkinson’s, mentally ill) in a loud tone.
During the week when Tom talked on my behalf, he explained to the waitress that I had throat surgery and couldn’t talk for a week. When he ordered the wrong meal, I pulled out my tablet and clarified. The waitress said “I bet it’s quiet around your house."
When my brother called and talked to Tom, I overheard laughter when my brother joked about the possibility of his wife getting the same surgery so that he could have some peace and quiet.
I sent a lot of emails that week. When I emailed the dancers that I wouldn’t be coming to class that week because I couldn’t imagine dancing without talking, one dancer kindly responded with “your bright smile and twinkling eyes brighten our dance classes and performances…you don't really need your voice to make things better for all of us!”
When I went to my individual yoga class, Carolyn and Paul prepared cards with “yes,” “no” and “stop” so that I could maintain my side of the “conversation.”
When alone, I avoided most restaurants and stores, fearful that I would be forced to talk. I felt like a nun with a vow of silence.
After a week of not talking, when I started speaking my voice sounded crackly, hoarse, raspy and sometimes nonexistent. But my doctor reassured me with “give it time” and I started a series of voice therapy sessions. However, I received a totally unexpected benefit from surgery: being able to eat popcorn and pizza without coughing and choking. So my Parkinson’s-related swallowing problems are solved. I’ll keep you posted about my progress in achieving an improved voice.