I’m kind of a rock star. Minus the fame, talent and groupies. But I do have a rock star ailment. And that should count for something.
John Mayer, Adele and Keith Urban have all had throat surgery. And soon I will join their ranks. Don’t worry, it’s nothing dramatic, just an outpatient procedure to remove a polyp on my vocal cord which has turned my already slightly-hoarse voice into something you’d hear coming out of a 30-year, five-pack-a-day smoker. Which I’m not.
I wish I could attribute my vocal situation to too much touring, but it’s probably just all the yelling I do at my kids (kidding, of course). And while I’m not at all worried about the procedure, I amvery concerned about what comes after. Silence. A total voice blackout. That’s right, no talking... for an entire week.
Those who know me can attest to the fact that I am neither the strong, silent type nor of the meek, quiet variety. Rather, I love talking. I do it frequently. I even talk to myself, full volume.
But I’m less concerned about being unable to talk to myself than I am about how I will communicate with my 5- and 8-year olds. I think I’ll use a lot of clapping, maybe two sharp claps to get their attention followed by a lot of flailing about of my arms and raising of my eyebrows. I’m assuming that they’ll stare at me in fascination and then resume whatever it was they were doing.
I’ll also probably scrawl a lot of notes, though my 8-year-old will have to translate since my little one isn’t much of a reader. My husband has already taken the liberty of printing out a page of often-used phrases for me to point to, like, “Put your shoes on!” “Hurry we’re late!” and “You’ve watched enough TV today!”
I guess Daniel will read it to Sarah and then they’ll both ignore me after which time I’ll point to, “If you don’t do BLANK by the time I count to three I’m going to BLANK.”
For him, he’s printed out, “Can you help me find BLANK?” and “Can you help me fix the BLANK?” That about covers it!
Michael has also downloaded an app for me that reads whatever you type. But the calm, mechanical voice lacks the passion and urgency with which I say everything. “Mommy loves you guys so much!” sounds flat and boring. “If you don’t get into the car right now I’m going to raise the volume on this iPhone!” doesn’t quite get the point across.
As far as my week out and about with people who don’t know my predicament, I think I’ll carry a piece of paper with me and every time someone talks to me, I’ll hold it up. “Can’t talk. Sorry. It’s not you, it’s me.”
To complicate things, the Week of No Voice will be the final week of summer when we have school open house and I get to meet my kid’s teachers. I suppose I’ll just wave my arms frantically and hold up my sign. That should make a great impression!
But the truth is, this is going to take me way out of my comfort zone. It will not only force me to communicate in different ways, but will also give me compassion for those who cannot do things I take for granted.
And maybe, just maybe, I’ll come out of this surgery with a gorgeous singing voice. Then I can go on “America’s Got Talent” and wow the judges and audience and they’ll play sad music as I tell my heart-wrenching story of a week without a voice. Sharon will cry and then I’ll sing and it’ll be as if an angel descended and finally, finally I will be a rock star! And Adele will open for me.
Lauren Menis is a Dunwoody mother whose column appears in The Crier each month. email@example.com.