While visiting my parents two weeks ago we chatted about a friend who had suffered terribly with cold and flu-like symptoms for several weeks. During that conversation I made a mistake. Not a tiny mistake. No, not this girl. There’s nothing tiny or dainty about me. No, I made a mistake of epic proportions. Huge. Colossal. And downright stupid. I uttered the words, “I haven’t been sick at all this year.” I don’t know what I was thinking. Clearly I wasn’t thinking. That short sentence had barely crossed my lips and I could feel my throat burning. By the next morning I had the beginnings of a nasty cold. I came home, nursed the cold with some over-the-counter meds, took naps in the middle of the day, and by the middle of last week, I had licked that cold. Poof! Be gone, nasty germs! I had a busy weekend ahead with a funeral/luncheon at the church and not just one, but two preaching gigs on Sunday, and I jumped right into it with both feet. By the end of the first service on Sunday morning, the raspiness of my voice rivaled that of a 1-900 telephone operator. By the close of the evening service, my voice was done. By Monday morning I felt pretty rotten … worse than I had the previous week. Though this lesson is a common occurrence for many of us, it is a hard one to learn! L
I went to the doctor on Monday afternoon and was officially diagnosed with bronchitis and laryngitis. Along with prescribing an antibiotic and steroids, the doctor gave me strict orders for voice rest. I laughed, reminding him of my vocation. He was not the least bit humored and suggested that I not preach this coming Sunday. Seriously?!? That’s six days away, I told him. Surely I will be better by then. We finally came to a compromise that I would ONLY preach and not talk during the rest of the service. Ha! So I enlisted the help of several of my wonderful parishioners to lead in worship. It’s been a pretty quiet week for me and I’ve gotten a lot of planning and administrative work done, including initial sermon/theme prep for worship through the end of the church year. Though my voice hasn’t gotten any worse, sadly, it hasn’t gotten any better, either. So I’ve made the decision to adhere to the doctor’s original orders and not preach this Sunday. The good news is that my sermon manuscript is written and it is now in the hands of Oak Chapel’s deaconess.
I’d like to say that my decision about Sunday is borne solely from my very compliant personality, but sadly it stems from previous experience. During my first year of teaching twenty-one years ago (eek! how is that possible!?), I lost my voice. And being a young, invincible educator, I continued to go to work every day, using and abusing my voice with great abandon. After a few weeks I went to the doctor and was prescribed voice rest. Really, I thought? I rested it as much as possible at night and on weekends, but there was no way I could completely rest my voice and still keep my job. As time went on, I developed nodules on my vocal cords and I was given a stern warning from the doctor that if I kept going in this vain, the damage would be irreversible. That was a wake up call for me and I took about a week off to completely rest my voice. The week of complete voice rest helped, but it did not immediately repair the damage to my vocal cords. I could talk, but my singing voice did not return for nine months. Yes, nine months. Music is an integral part of who I am and being unable to sing for nine months was devastating. I was unable to sing for Christmas AND Easter that year and it broke my heart.
If we do not reflect and learn from our experiences, history has a way of repeating itself. I can’t let that happen. So this Sunday, I will be silent. I imagine some folks will be glad for that!
Oh … before I close, here is an update on the weight loss journey. After resetting my weight tracker and starting over on March 10, I lost 7 pounds the first week; 3 pounds the next, and one last week. Yep, my favorite number as of last Friday was 11. And I’m hoping and praying that the steroids I am currently taking don’t wreak havoc with that number this week, but if they do, tomorrow is another day and I’m grateful for that.
Until next time, peace …