I can hardly talk. I’ve had this predisposition for laryngitis since I was a teen but I’ve been so healthy the last few years I had almost forgotten what it was like. When it happens I know I’m going to attempt to say something but I don’t know if I’ll be able to make a noise or not, and if I do it will probably not be audible as speech. Then I’ll have to push myself to talk louder and my throat will tighten and actually begin to hurt. The first cough will come, very dry and bark like. It won’t satisfy the dryness, the itch, the involuntary spasms in my larynx until I cough again. And the more I try to stifle it the worse it becomes until tears are streaming from my eyes and I’m in a coughing free for all.
Where do I not want to be when all this takes place? Several places. My worst memory of it was in a plane over the north pole during a 16 hour flight from Cambodia to Atlanta. I was trapped in my window seat by two other people, and I don’t know where I would have gone even if I could have gotten out. Another inconvenient place is church, on stage, playing the piano. Not good. And then there was today, on the quiet, serene orthopedic floor of the hospital. I had been talking too much and it triggered an episode that I thought would not end well. Fortunately I ran into a sympathetic nurse who not only brought me water, but cough drops as well. Coughing like that makes one feel like a major source of the plague. Maybe I was.
I was visiting my client/friend, well, back up a little.
Last Monday I got a text in the evening from my client who is mostly paralyzed, having a C-5 spinal injury. She does drive a specially equipped van and had been out doing errands that day. It simply read “I almost got killed today on Manatee Ave.” With an opener like that, I thought surely she would tell me more but no.
I talked with her again a day or so later and learned that her electric wheel chair had gone off the sidewalk, over a four inch curb and nearly dumped her in the street. She had been saved by her seat belt and two young men who pulled her back into the chair and the chair back onto the sidewalk. Other than losing her lunch during the panic she didn’t think she was injured. But over the next couple of days there was evidence of pain, then swelling in her leg and finally an x-ray that showed a broken femur. I knew nothing about this last finding until last night when I got an email from a friend with a partial name of a hospital and a room number. It was late. I went to bed.
This morning I got up early, before testing my voice, and scurried over to the hospital. Her room number was 932 but, funny thing, there was no 932 in that hospital, and no one registered by her name. And it took a lot of vocal energy to find this stuff out, believe me. So I sat in my car and thought of another hospital where she could have gone. I experienced the agonizing frustration of talking on the phone, having no voice. It’s not like I could use body language or charades or pencil and paper. She wasn’t at that hospital either. I went home and sent out several queries by text and waited for answers.
I did finally find her in the next town south and made it down there by mid morning. Other than the above mentioned coughing fit, the visit went well and I was glad I went. This is why. She is scheduled for surgery and when going to surgery, jewelry is removed if possible. My client had a ring that no one had been able to remove from her finger. It was valuable and she was not wanting to have it cut off. I knew a nifty trick to remove a tight ring that I had learned years before from a youtube video. I was dying to use it on this perfect occasion. Everybody should know this method because it really works great and is so easy. You can use thin elastic, ribbon, even dental floss. I used crochet thread because I happened to have it with me. So, I’m going to end with this and you should watch it because you never know when you might be someone’s answer to prayer.