Category Archives: Random stuff that happens
On Losing My Voice
You may have heard me complaining all over the internet that I had lost my voice. Monday, the day we left Mexico and the world’s most adorable grandchildren, I could only talk in a low whisper. It didn’t bother me that much while we were traveling. I’d had a cold all week and didn’t feel great anyhow, so it was kind of relaxing to not be expected to make conversation.
Tuesday, I went to the nurse practitioner, who gave me antibiotics for a sinus infection, cough medicine, and steroids for my throat. Despite speaking only in a whisper, I was able to challenge her belief that lots of women just suddenly change their mind and decide to have an abortion at 24 weeks. But that’s a story for a different day.
As the week wore on, I didn’t feel bad, I just couldn’t talk much – or couldn’t be heard. I typed. I was grateful that my job is flexible enough to accomodate not talking. I learned some things.
I learned that sometimes people don’t actually need me to talk. Twice – not once, but two times – people reached out to me and talked about what was going on with them, and were able to resolve their own issues, without a single word from me. Just talking through what was going on with them was all they really needed.
I learned that in other conversations, where my input was needed, people were really good about stopping to give me time to think and type. It is not as easy as you might think to carry on an actual conversation via chat box. People were patient and kind.
Of course, I wondered why I had lost my voice. I can’t remember the last time this happened. Dee suggested maybe it was because of the cold medication I had been taking, but I didn’t think so. As a therapist, I wondered if it was symbolic, if there was a psychological reason.
Maybe, I pondered, I haven’t been speaking up enough. Maybe I’ve metaphorically lost my voice, and now it’s manifesting physically. Or maybe this is an experience in empathy, to increase my understanding of what it’s like to be voiceless in some way.
I wasn’t dreadfully upset about it – I could still whisper when I needed to and it was restful in an odd way. It made me listen more attentively and kept me from interrupting or completing other people’s sentences, which I’ve been known to do. And it was kind of interesting.
But Saturday morning – starting day 6 without a voice – it was getting a bit old. As I mentioned it (again) on Facebook, someone suggested a rememdy. “Th***t C**t tea,” he said, “and R***la throat drops.”
Amazingly, I already had the tea in my cabinet. I hadn’t been using it, I’d been doing all kinds of other tea instead. But there it was, just waiting for me. I fixed a cup of tea instead of a second cup of coffee and headed out.
In my car, I was looking for Kleenex under the dashboard and wondering if it would be worth stopping for the throat drops when I pulled out – a bag of R***la throat drops. Seriously. (No, I didn’t find the Kleenex. You can’t have everything.)
So I drank my tea and had a couple of throat drops – and I could talk. Not perfectly. But I could actually talk. If I’d been at 25% of my voice before, I moved up to 60 or 70%. Pretty amazing.
So amazing that of course I decided it must have been psychosomatic in the first place. I mean, really, how can a cup of tea and two throat drops be that kind of miracle? But that’s ok. There’s still a big take-away here.
Here’s what I think the lesson is. We talk about needing to have the right tools to find solutions and solve problems. But it’s not just a matter of having the right tool. We have to know that it’s the right tool. I had lots of remedies – teas and medicine and extracts and even hot toddies. And I had exactly what I needed (apparently) and just didn’t realize it until someone else suggested it.
It makes me wonder how often I have the solution lying around in my “tool kit” neglected and unused. And will I remember to look at all my tools the next time I need them?
Nothing Is Simple
I saw him on my way to work. I was stopped at the stop sign where Old Bardstown Road merges with Bardstown Road, right past Hikes Lane. You know where I’m talking about?
Anyhow. He was down on one knee on the sidewalk, bent over, one hand over his ear. He had a buzz haircut. I couldn’t see his face.
I was sitting in traffic, waiting, so I watched to see if he’d get back up. Instead, he swayed a little, it looked like he was rocking back and forth.
Not an old guy, at least he didn’t look old. I couldn’t really tell.
I almost drove on. I thought about it. I started to.
But I really couldn’t.
So I pulled over, out of the line of traffic, put on my flashers. Got out of the car. Walked slowly toward him.
Slowly, because you never know, he could be ~ I don’t know, he could be drunk. On drugs. Not that I haven’t been around people who were drunk or doing drugs before, but you know, he could be dangerous, right?
So I get not-too-close to him, and I call over to him, “Excuse me.”
He doesn’t look up, he just keeps sort of swaying a little bit, crouched down on one knee, holding onto his head.
“Excuse me,” a little bit louder.
And again, just a bit louder, “Hey. Are you ok??” Stepping a bit closer, but not too close.
He shakes his head then, shaking it like he’s trying to clear it. I think he says, “Yeah.” But clearly, he isn’t ok.
“You don’t look like you’re ok,” I say. “Is there someone I can call for you?”
“No.” That is firm. And he starts to stand up, but he sways, even as he’s saying, “I’m ok,” he sways and goes down again.
I start to move forward, but then I don’t, I’m already kind of close, close enough, and he’s back in his crouch, and I’m not a nurse or a doctor and I don’t know what’s wrong with him.
Yeah, he could be drunk. He looks like he’s wearing – well, blue pants like uniform pants, and a white polo shirt. Backpack on his back, but he looks too old for high school. I don’t know. College maybe? It’s a small backpack. Not a travelers bag.
I don’t know what to do. I’m standing there, and I just don’t know what to do.
Maybe I should trust him, he says he’s ok, maybe anything I do will just make it worse. What if he’s had a seizure or something? Sometimes, when people have seizures often, they really don’t want you to call an ambulance, cause they just go to the ER, where the doctors tell them that they had a seizure, and they already know that. Then the person gets a big bill, for something that they really didn’t need.
But then I don’t even know if that’s right, maybe you’re always supposed to go to the hospital for a seizure. Not that I know it was a seizure, it could be something completely different.
I feel like I’m trapped in a bad novel ~ it’s his novel, he’s the main character, I’m just the woman who appears in this scene, and whatever I do is going to be ignorant and not helpful.
If I don’t call an ambulance, he really needs one, if I do call an ambulance, he doesn’t need it and gets a big bill.
About this time, which really is only a minute, maybe two, I hear a voice behind me. A man has stopped. He’s wearing a shirt advertising some kind of Recovery facility, and for a second I have this bizarre thought that the guy on the sidewalk has escaped from the facility, and they’ve sent someone to bring him back.
But no. That’s apparently not the case.
The man in the t-shirt stays at an even safer distance away than I am. He asks me “what’s wrong with him?” and I answer, except all I can really say is, “I don’t know.” But I say that he couldn’t stand on his own when he tried to, and he ~ the rescuer guy ~ says, “I’m calling an ambulance.”
I’m relieved, and tell him yes, I think we need to.
But while he’s on the phone with 911, the guy on the sidewalk makes it to his feet. He can barely stand, he kind of reminds me of Bambi, in the movie, when the little deer gets to his feet for the first time.
The guy starts walking away, and the man who’s talking to 911 says into the phone, “No, never mind, no, he’s walking away. Yes, he was on the ground, but he’s walking away now.”
He is, in his blue pants with the backpack on his back, he’s picking up speed as he goes, still a little unsteady. We watch him go for a minute.
Then I shrug, jump back in my car, turn off the flashers, and make my way back into the flow of traffic. I have places to go, people to see.
Such a brief, random connection. I wonder what he really needed. Did we make things worse in some way ~ would it have been better if we’d left him alone? Did he need more than he got?
I can make up a bunch of different endings for his story, probably none of them close to the truth. I wonder about him, and I’ll never know. But I can still see him, heading down the sidewalk, off to whatever happens next.