Wednesday, February 19, 2014

No Talky-Talk

I woke up this morning with almost no voice, and a dry, horrible cough. You know those nifty neck pillows, the kind you can heat up in the microwave and wear to make you feel less tense? I felt like I had one of those inside my neck, encasing my lymph nodes and throat, a much less relaxing reality. 

My plans for the day, aside from the mandatory parenting tasks that do not get eliminated for something as trivial as illness, were immediately scrapped in favor of resting and hot beverages. I was supposed to make trip #4 to the dentist to get a porcelain crown placed on the tooth I broke a few weeks ago, but figured that the coughing and limited ability to breathe would make holding still while they cemented pretty impossible.

The whole family has been fighting off the crud for at least a week—this weekend, we made grand plans to do all kinds of family fun, but then mostly lazed about because we were all feeling subpar, at best. Last week, the kiddo got the cold full-on, even requesting that she miss piano (her favorite) in favor of resting. I thought that I had beaten it before it really got ugly, but I was wrong.

Whenever I get a hint of laryngitis, the first thing I think of is my mom, in her speech therapist voice, saying, "Total vocal rest." Drink hot drinks with honey and lemon, take medicine, rest if you can—all these things are good—but the number one piece of advice from mom has always been the same, "Total vocal rest."

Of course, the first person I really spoke to today was my mom, who called to check in but got off the phone pretty quickly, lest she sabotage her own recommendation. She doesn't even need to say it anymore, I know what to do: stop talking, and stop whispering, too. Explore ridiculous hand gestures and/or not answering anyone's questions as new forms of communication. For me, "total vocal rest" = be completely the opposite of your normal self.

The really funny thing, though, was that the less I spoke, the less I could imagine writing. I rarely talk about what I am writing out loud, and obviously, typing requires no use of the vocal chords. Why would an absence of talking lead to an absence of talking points? This made me consider the recent studies that suggest that being able to make facial expressions allows us to feel empathy, as we match the expressions of those with whom we are speaking, then are more able to feel what they are feeling. Folks with Botox injections, the control group for these studies, were much less likely to be able to empathize—if you can't make the face, you can't read the face, essentially.

We also know that the act of smiling, even smiling so slightly that others can't really notice it, can make individuals feel happier. The expression isn't always a result of the feeling, it can actually make the feeling, too. Embodied cognition is some cool stuff.

Could it be possible then, that when making a conscious effort not to talk, I send a signal to my mind to have nothing worth discussing cued up? Not moving my mouth says "don't think of things to say?"

Whatever the case, consider this near-midnight blog post as current for at least two days, unless I have a miraculous recovery tomorrow morning. I'll be here, trying not to think of anything worth saying.

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