Sunday, May 6, 2007

Quiet Time

It happens every spring. In the Bay Area it used to hit me in June, but here in Chicago it appears to be a May phenomenon. I literally lose my voice. The allergies hit and - wham-o! - within 48 hours I can do little more than whisper. Everyone here is amazed by what a bad spring it is for allergies, so I guess it's no surprise that I'm in the thick of it right now. It was incredibly frustrating at church this morning, trying to talk to people in a noisy room; worse still were my attempts to call out to the boys when they were within seconds of plowing down an elderly woman or running across a parking lot. Matt went out of town tonight and it was interesting to be a non-speaking mom at bedtime. The boys actually sang songs to themselves before going to sleep.

But the biggest problem of all is that my profession does sort of rely on me using my voice. It might surprise you to learn that I often do "non-verbal" sessions, in which I spend an hour with a child, playing without saying a single word, because it's a very effective way to improve a child's attention to facial expressions and gestures. However, for about a third of my caseload, that would not have any real benefit. So this shuts me down for at least one work day, sometimes two.

Which leads me to wonder if this is my body's very wise way of slowing me down when I'm sick. I've heard others talk about a particular area of vulnerability they have: for some it seems to be throat ailments, for others GI problems, and still others get migraines that stop them in their tracks. I mean, if I need to slow down and get more rest, what better way than to actually shut off my voice? Although I feel sort of tired and cruddy, chances are I'd have still gone to work tomorrow, figuring that I don't feel that bad.

So I always take the lost voice as a clear signal to drop everything and rest.

I'm curious: does your body have a particular way of making it clear when it's time to take a day off? What is it?


Mrs. Chicken said...

My back goes out. And I literally can't walk.

It is the only time I am ever off my feet, and it usually happens right at the peak of some very difficult time.

The human body, as I learned well when my dad was ill, is a mystery.

Shan said...

I used to get a killer upper respiratory/throat/ear thing every spring (and usually once in the winter too) where I'd lose my voice completely too (but also feel TERRIBLE and be really sick for 3-5 days). Interestingly, since taking a leave from my career to be home full-time with my babies, I haven't had it once. I certainly wouldn't say my life has slowed down in many respects (!), but it's obvious to me that this "simpler-living" lifestyle I've fashioned for myself right now, stepping off the crazy career track, has translated into less body stress. (It's notable also that my arthritis has been well-controlled since I left my super-competitive psychology residency in Chicago, and practically non-existent since having my first baby!)