Last Sunday, I very suddenly lost my voice after dinner. I was somewhat distressed by how quickly things got worse since only have to clear my throat a couple times during a podcast recorded several hours earlier. Although I thought it was hilarious, I realized how much of a problem having the audibility of a hummingbird would be if I couldn’t speak in lecture on Tuesday.
Losing one’s voice isn’t the worst ailment one could have. I noticed that it got me significantly more sympathy than other, more severe illnesses. Most people are probably inured to coughing, hacking, wheezing, sneezing. Quite the opposite, a phlegmish cough will get you 4 words hoping for recovery while everyone runs yelling and screaming away from the plague that your breath apparently contains. When you lose your voice, though, all the kind people around you will offer their best suite of teas to wash away your muteness in a sea of scalding, vaguely bitter water of a color that doesn’t look much healthier than whatever might be coming out of your body.
Not that I didn’t appreciate the attention. I think everyone needs a moment where everyone wants to make you feel better. And barely whispering to everyone gets more attention than hiding in a closet to cry. But in all seriousness, it’s not that bad. Although there was a very clear symptom to my illness, I otherwise felt as fine as in any cold, which is still pretty good. Perhaps the biggest downside that I can think of is the bizarre first impression I likely made on the many people that I met. The timing isn’t great, as I’m sure many people think my voice is a little faint, and I missed a lot of handshakes trying not to infest others, but maybe it makes me more memorable to the many I met.
So I don’t recommend that you try to lose your voice, or fake losing your voice. If you do get sick, though, it isn’t nearly as bad a symptom as it might seem. At the very least, it beats having one of the most powerful people in the world tell you that you shouldn’t run for office.