What I’ve Learned From Losing My Voice

Last weekend I caught a bad cold. I’m not often sick, so I’m wont to forget how it feels to not be healthy; to have your body simply be unable to get it together. I was visiting a friend for the weekend and I got a sore throat on Saturday.  By Sunday,I was losing my voice and was officially ill. I really wanted to still go out and be jolly but my body refused to be willed into action. I took every anti-pyretic and analgesic as many times as I could just so I could maintain a normal temperature and not have my sinuses feel like someone was cutting through them.

Monday was my trip home and I was voiceless. Literally no sound louder than a whisper came out when I spoke. This had never happened to me before. I avoided speaking to people, or speaking, period. I dreaded having to answer the bus driver when he asked where I’d be getting off. I felt like Eddie Murphy in ‘A Thousand Words’ because I had to ration my words; producing a whisper hurt like my throat was getting scraped. I had to call a taxi when I got back to my city and I didn’t have much of a voice, so I just took a slightly suspicious-looking taxi and sent pictures of the driver and taxi company to my friends as I prayed (silently of course) to get home in one piece.

You need to decide what’s worth the effort aka pick your battles wisely.

The taxi turned out to be driven by a really nice elderly taxi driver who worried about my voice or lack thereof and asked so many questions, he could have passed for a doctor

‘When did it start?’

‘Oh, I know how you feel baby. Summer colds are the worst thing’

‘Did you take anything for it yet?’

‘Oh I feel so bad for you with that cough’

‘I had a cold like that two weeks ago’

It might’ve been nice to just not talk, you know, but he was being really sweet and really I did not want to offend anyone who was going to drive me for over 40 minutes, especially when I didn’t know my way around.

People will feel bad for you and might be extra nice to you when you’re sick. This is a known fact and a nice perk. 

After I got home, my voice did not improve and as we had breakfast together, the family was discussing something really funny and I really wanted to add my two hilarious cents or even just laugh out loud properly, you know? But I was just so tired of fighting my vocal cords like a mother wrestling her children out the door in the morning. So, instead I just listened! I wasn’t thinking of my next funny interjection. I just listened. I realized I don’t do that as much anymore. I also realized how much louder you have to raise your voice to perform a successful interjection.

Learn to not interrupt people so much.

I spent the rest of the morning calling leasing agents, looking for apartments and I realized I was apologizing each time for not having a voice. Even when I went to the bank later in the day, I would croak in response to a question and then hear myself waste energy apologizing

“Sorry, just have a cold”

Like that’s somehow my fault. Then it occurred to me how often I feel some sort of responsibility to be in form every single time.

Few things beat apologizing for a misfortune that has befallen you.

There are three things I missed the most about using my own voice:

  • Sending voice notes. Voice notes are so effective. There were times I wanted to say things and not spend forever typing.
  • Singing at the top of my voice, or at least humming and doing runs pretending to be Adam Levine when I play ‘Lost Stars’. I can’t tell you how much this frustrated me. The feeling is akin to an unfulfilled sneeze.
  • Thinking aloud. I’m one of those people who actually enjoys talking to themselves. It’s so hard to not be able to hear yourself talk to yourself. My time in the bathroom felt empty with no back and forth/ rich conversation, you know?

The little things really do matter.

Being voiceless is sad and frustrating, whether physically or metaphorically.Although, thankfully my voice box is working again, I’ll be holding these lessons close to my heart for a long time.


Afoma Umesi

is a medical student who enjoys weaving words in her ever diminishing spare time. She is a born and bred Port Harcourt girl who takes pleasure in swooning over excellent poetry and orange sunsets and blogging. She is conscientiously working on taking better selfies.


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