On Being Voiceless…

This week began with one major event: I lost my voice.

When I say I lost my voice I mean I went into work on Monday and could barely muster a cracked whisper. This may have been fine in an office setting, however, this week and next I am subbing as a teaching/instructional aide in a first grade classroom. This not only means hours trying to help students who can’t read well enough to write out any help on boards or papers with everything from reading to math, but also means recesses and lunches on the play yard with no way of yelling out when I see and issue nor calling into the office if I need to report an incident or injury.

Luckily – and so no one thinks I went to work sick to infect children! – I was not sick when all of this happened. (And this is your gross out warning). What happened was that I went to the LA Haunted Hayride on Saturday which was fantastic but also very smokey (both from people and overactive smoke machines working throughout the line) filled with a lot of hay which generally got everywhere. These spooky features are nothing new to me and I didn’t scream the whole night but woke up a little raspy.

Sunday, I had a SCA event which was amazing but I talked all day and as I talked, the rasp in my voice grew steadily worse. I had a tiny bit of a stuffy nose from all the dirt from the course of the two days outside but nothing else. I was able to run my evening 10k with no issue so neither breathing nor and sickness symptoms were apparent.

But when Monday morning came around my throat had a fair share of mucus from night drain but my throat wasn’t raw at all. Repeat up until today with a little more soreness, less phlegm and nose grossness, and a stronger sounding voice (in tiny increments) as the week wore on.

While I cannot compare what I went through this week with others who have voice issues regularly, this week as a teacher and someone who doesn’t actually feel like they like to talk all that much on a regular basis, I have seriously missed my voice. It’s like they say (and, please, pardon the cliche): You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

I’ve also learned a lot about the kids I teach this week.

The first graders were amazing. I got get well soon cards and best behavior (for the most part) and a lot of patience as I searched for ways of still helping them out whenever I could. I also learned how much bigger kids can take advantage of a voiceless monitor but how freaked out they can get when I – a tiny 5 foot nothing girl – finally croaks out commands in a voice a few octaves below what they are used to.

So that’s my life this week. I’m happily taking the day off tomorrow as the rest of the staff gathers for a studentless inservice day with some more honeyed tea (or just raw honey on a spoon – I’m serious, it’s so helpful) and vocal rest.

  • Taylor Gallagher

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