enjoy the silence (or suffer mightily)

It’s the dumbest thing: I need to write a post because I can’t speak right now.

I caught this terrible cold on January 3rd from Seth, who had had it since Christmas.  Talking about being sick is boring and I know this because I’ve been reading my archives lately, and it turns out I wrote about being sick a lot and it was always boring.  So anyway.  Seth, who never gets sick, got this cold and had it for weeks.  I got just a little too cocky about not catching the cold and promptly came down with it on January 3.

It’s a really bad cold – one of the worst I’ve ever had.  And I still have it.  And I know I caught it on January 3 because I’m keeping track, because it’s now January 19 and I still have it and some days I’m convinced I’ll never be well again.  Between January 3 and last night I was averaging 4 hours of sleep a night, usually on the couch downstairs instead of in my own bed, and never with my CPAP so any sleep I got was of poor quality.  I coughed for hours every day and night.  Most medicine didn’t help.  When I went to the doctor and broke down sobbing, they gave me better medicine that only sort of helped.

Side note: If I were ever a prisoner and they used sleep deprivation to torture me, I’d give up all the info I had on like day 2.  I need my sleep.  I don’t know how people have fussy babies and function without sleep for days on end.  This has been miserable.

And then on Monday I lost my voice completely.  I can’t even croak.  At best, it comes out in a whisper.  It’s Thursday now and I’m still basically mute.  I’ve had laryngitis before but I don’t remember it being so…thorough.  And it’s never lasted this long.

A funny thing I’ve learned this week is that when you can’t speak, people stop speaking TO you, too.  I’m still having to go to work because I can’t exactly take a month of sick time, and I have to go to meetings, and I have ideas but mostly I can’t share them.  When I do try to speak it frustrates people because they can’t hear my whisper.  But I still have to be there.  People have casual conversations around me and don’t include me even though I’m just a few feet away and can still hear them just fine.  It is very lonely.

Lots of people from outside my department dropped in to my office (which I share with another person) yesterday, and when they chatted and I didn’t they started to think I was being weird, so then I’d whisper that I had laryngitis.  It happened often enough that one person finally suggested I make a little sign to put on the back of my monitor so people would just know.  I thought that was a good idea so I found some cutesy little thing online and printed it and put it up.  I thought I was so clever that I then posted it on Facebook, like yeah, maybe this is dramatic, but damn it I can’t talk and someone suggested it so here’s what I went with.

A casual friend who almost never interacts with me online made sure to take the time to tell me that I was ridiculous, that a sore throat was a first world problem, and that there was no sign on earth that could make it cute.  This helpful comment started with, “I like you, but-” which is always a clue that you’re about to be told something that will make you feel lousy.  I post on Facebook every single day, often multiple times, but this is the post that really spoke to this person and needed a response.  Maybe he’s tired of reading my daily complaints about being sick.  I’m tired of BEING sick every day so I guess we’re even.  Whatever.

So I threw the sign in the trash.  I deleted the post.  And then I cried for fifteen minutes straight.  Thankfully, everyone was at lunch and no one saw.  But I don’t know, that stupid comment broke something in me, and the fifteen days without sleep and the hours upon hours of coughing and the constant exhaustion and the isolation and the fear I’ll never be better all hit me at once and I cried so many more times yesterday.  Big ugly snotty crying – none of those gentle brave tears for me, no sir.  I cried because I can’t talk and every time I try someone tells me to shut up and thinks they’re being funny.  I cried because I can’t sing along to the radio in the car.  I cried because some dude tried to panhandle me at the gas station and when I was unable to speak to him, he backed away like I had leprosy.  I cried through 95% of the newest episode of This is Us and I didn’t even like that stupid episode.  I cried because my husband didn’t like that episode either and said so.  I cried because he didn’t want to eat a brownie.  I cried because I didn’t get enough steps on my Fitbit (and that’s part of a longer story for another day).  I cried because Obama isn’t going to be president anymore.  I cried because I was exhausted.  Not one of those reasons is an exaggeration, by the way.  All of them are real reasons why I really cried.

And I don’t know if it was just that the dam finally broke, or that Seth is a very calming presence, or what, but last night I managed to stop crying finally, and to get 7 solid hours of sleep with the CPAP in my actual bed, and it felt so wonderful I wanted to hire a skywriter to fly over Nashville so everyone would know.  I’m still coughing but not quite as much as I had been.

Maybe I’m finally getting better.  I certainly hope so.  But I also really hope my voice comes back soon, because I didn’t realize how much I like to talk – NEED to talk – or how much I would miss my voice until I lost it.

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