Voice’s off

You don’t realise how much your voice contributes to your personality and the way people see – or rather, hear you – until you lose it.

And losing your voice is not like losing the car keys. You can’t have a hunt around for it and find with some relief that you locked it in the garage or threw it carelessly into the dustbin with a piece of old kitchen roll and the potato peelings.

You can search all you like, but you won’t find it. It will return when its good and ready.

Mine has returned but in a different form. It’s quiet and too weak to sing, too weak to laugh properly, too fragile to do anything other than talk in a carefully modulated way. Any sudden reckless noise provokes paroxysms of coughing.

I all but lost it for a couple of days.

People looked at me funny because they don’t expect me to be quiet and they don’t expect to have to ask me “Sorry, I didn’t catch that.” They don’t usually have to make an effort with me. I project without thinking about it.

Mr Croft, my creepy but terribly complimentary English teacher said, rather too kindly I feel, that my voice was “sonorous.” That’s not quite the same as having “a bell on every bloody tooth” as my dad used to describe some of the boys I played with. Β  Quite frankly, if I was a friend of mine, it’s the kind of voice which would get right on my nerves. Β I don’t know how they put up with me.

Anyway, this throat bug which has persisted for two weeks plus has taken me through a variety of broken voices from initial breathy whispering – which I have to say sounded particularly good when delivering pathology lab results.

“Yes Mr Robinson,” purred the Joanna Lumley/Fenella Fielding Soundalike “your swabs have all come back clear.”

That didn’t last, sadly. It morphed into the low slightly menacing tones of a 60-a-day Welsh coal-mining lesbian in a bad mood.

“Pay up there’s a good boy – or you’ll never see your budgie again.” That kind of thing.

It changed again into a version of my usual voice with no colour or variation and the volume turned down by 30%. I don’t like it. It’s not really me at all. Still, it’s something. It’s better than complete silence and ineffective whispers.

The kids were still young when I lost my voice completely for four days. I had to work the dog on hand signals only but somehow he responded. It was a combination of looking at him intently and making stupidly emphatic hand gestures; workable at close quarters but a complete waste of time if he took off in the opposite direction while we were out.

My lack of sound or fury was a source of much initial amusement for DT man and the boys who would giggle and roll makeshift ear trumpets out of newspapers as if that would increase their chances of hearing me, then lose interest and loaf about watching TV and spilling biscuit crumbs all over the sofa, knowing I didn’t have the voice to object.

It was a kind of purgatory in which I felt I lost my identity. It felt like I could only express a tiny percentage of my personality. I couldn’t laugh, couldn’t complain, couldn’t assert myself. It was like turning black and white and shrinking.

Losing my voice I lost all my colour. I was mostly ignored, except by the dog, who quite enjoyed doing the sit, down, roll-over, heel, wait, come, stuff on hand-signals only as long as there were still foodie rewards.

This time is nothing like as bad but I’ll still be glad when the voice is back properly. I have a feeling I might be able to tempt it back with theraputic doses of single malt. I mean, you have to try everything, haven’t you?


About janh1

Part-time hedonist.
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7 Responses to Voice’s off

  1. valzone says:

    Laryngitis is annoying more than anything, trying to make yourself heard is frustrating, especially when trying to chastise the children, they just laugh.
    It is sexy though Jan. Speaking on the phone is a laugh too, the caller ends up saying “I’ll call you back next week”. Is there a positive cure? of course there is, stick with the Malt, but let it slide past the larynx slowly. πŸ™‚

  2. janh1 says:

    Hi Val, no-one’s said “I’ll call you back..” yet!! πŸ™‚

    The patients have been remarkable but most of them probably presume this is how I normally am!!

  3. IsobelandCat says:

    Hi Jan
    Have you tried echinacea throat spray?
    Or gargling with diluted soluble aspirin?
    Or tincture of lavender?

    I find people whisper to me when I lose my voice. I think it’s a sub-conscious thing, but quite strange nonetheless.
    Hope you recover soon and return to full, glorious technicolor.

    On the continuing bike update, I was near Elephant and Castle today, and noticed the rack by the Bakerloo line station was almost empty, while the rack round the corner in Borough Road was pretty full, as was another close by.

    Also, have you heard of vrbo.com for accommodation worldwide, including London?

    • janh1 says:

      Hi Isobel. Not tried those, although I have heard lavender is marvellous for burns but i have been inhaling menthol and eucalyptus the old way – towel and bowl! πŸ™‚

      Interesting to see how the scheme goes. A pal was crossing London by bike recently and noticed masses of the hire bikes – didn’t detect any shortage! Nevertheless, will leave it until Oct to have a day out in the capital for a quid, I think,.

      No hadn’t heard of that website so thanks!

  4. papaguinea says:

    Hi Jan,

    Let me know if you can do a pure “Fenella Fielding!”
    I have just been dipping in to some of the WordPress blogs (Ara and Brendano). Actually I had not read this piece on MyT so am responding live if you like. Hope you are on the mend. I would never waste a good malt on a sore throat but probable go for a blended scotch with honey and lemon. You know my wife is Ghanaian, well when she was first ‘ordered’ by me to go out and buy the lemons as I lay foul-mouthed and ill on the bed, so she returned with limes instead. (I don’t think she had any idea what a lemon was – she just presumed I had said ‘limes’ since at least she knew what limes were!)

    I can well understand your condition is a kind of purgatory and that you have lost your ID. You feel marginalised and colourless or like a black and white negative. Why do I sympathise? I am currently without any hearing, well I can make out a voice on the phone but not hear conversation in a room. Ordinarily I wear hearing aids – a lifeline to normal living, but I am suffering from infections so am on ear drops and ordered not to wear the aids. I’ve been down this road before; it’s a lonely road. Thankfully the children in this house, and we have a few come in and out, give a joyous backdrop to normal living. Today I am going out to Curry’s to buy a decent pair of headphones so at least I can plug into my electric keyboard and get something out of a tune.

    Perhaps you could vocalise your thoughts through a vuvuzela (I’ve forgotten the spelling). We have digital hearing aids now so why indeed isn’t there some gadget like an electrified sweet that you just stick in the side of your mouth and which amplifies sound 1000 times. Wow … think of the power!

  5. janh1 says:

    I’m better! Well nearly – a colleague said I sound far more normal. Completely sympathise re your hearing though, PG – rather lonely and cut off!!

    Good idea but how about designing an earring hearing aid? Surely it isn’t beyond technical capabilities these days? So PG – you’d have yours turned up to 11?

  6. papaguinea says:

    You mean a hearing earring? You would probably still need something inside the ear to receive transmissions or signals from the stud or earring! I can only hear through amplification of existing hearing – they don’t make glasses for the blind if you see what I mean! Anyway, glad to hear you are empowered again. Perhaps there is a story here … the hearing earring; supposing someone lost one, and then a stranger found it and tried it, only to hear what was being said to the true owner!

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