Voice rest entails no talking, no whispering, and no uttering a sound. Crying, sneezing, coughing, and clearing the throat are also not allowed. Due to surgery on my vocal cords, I was forced to be on voice rest for two days during the past week, with minimal talking during the remainder of the week. Voice rest would give my vocal cords an opportunity to heal.
It was an interesting experiment—surviving with little to no talking. Day 1 was dificult. My husband, Tom wanted to talk about Syria and the Denver Broncos, and he kept forgetting that I wasn’t allowed to talk. He carried on long monologues that day. Being deprived of food for a day before the surgery, I was focused more on food (or rather lack thereof) and communicated by writing on paper with my micro, shaky Parkinson’s handwriting that Tom had trouble deciphering.
Day 2 was easier in that Tom and his two brothers left for an 11 day road trip to Wisconsin. No more temptations to talk. I mostly slept and dreamt of having a great voice.
While I was sleeping, I received a call from a nurse in the post-op department of the hospital where I had the surgery. Her phone message stated, “Oh, I forgot. You’re probably on voice rest, but I was wondering how you are doing.” I didn’t return her phone call.
Meanwhile, our English Springer Spaniel, Rusty, is confused about Tom’s whereabouts as well as my non-voice. I’ve use a lot of nonverbal signals in my communication with Rusty. For example, I merely hold up his leash when I ask him if he wants to go for a walk, and I don’t even have to say “walkie.”
On Day 3, I ordered a pizza online and when I went to pick it up, the only word that I uttered was my first name, “Kate.”
On Day 4, I ventured out to get some ice cream. At the local Dairy Queen, the only thing I had to say were two words, “the usual,” which they automatically translated in to “a mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Blizzard Treat.”
On Day 5, I went to the grocery store in search of some lemonade to sooth my sore throat. I went through the self check-out line, and once again, no talking was necessary.
I also emailed and canceled a couple of appointments for the upcoming week where I would be required to speak. No expenditure of energy on speaking.
When Tom was on his trip, we communicated by email, and he called by phone and did most of the talking.
My voice and I have rested enough during the five days. On Day 6, I began to challenge myself to say more than “walkie,” “Kate” or “the usual.” I began the real work by practicing my voice exercises.
While it wasn’t that difficult to manage my day-to-day activities without talking, life without meaningful conversation is lonely and isolating. I agree with a quote of Maya Angelou: “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.” I’m aiming for both a strong spoken and written voice so that ALL of my words can become more meaningful and in synch.