Raising my voice
As a quadriplegic, I worry about getting respiratory infections because they frequently result in pneumonia. After taking Benadryl nightly as a sleep aid for two months, I stopped. While withdrawing from that, I was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and began an antibiotic. A few other residents had cold-like symptoms, so I thought I might be getting it. Then, the next week, I became congested and lost my voice.
Since I use Dragon speech recognition software to dictate my writing, my life was suddenly topsy-turvy. I had trouble using voice commands to activate my software and dictating was painful drudgery because of constantly needing to repeat. But I forged on because using the personal computer keeps me involved and writing is a passion that I must pursue.
Along with feeling unwell, my throat hurt and I coughed. I took cough medicine for four days, which cleared my throat enough to use Dragon. I soon felt dried out and stopped. For two days, I had only enough voice strength to dictate my journal. On those evenings, I rested my voice and read.
Communicating with the aides is essential in order for me to make my needs known. Laryngitis made that difficult. The aides could not hear me, and I constantly had to repeat myself. I asked them to try to listen because it was painful to talk.
I was unwell and frustrated, but I was afraid to go back to bed. It is easier to get pneumonia when I am lying down. I felt staying up was important.
Eating was difficult because I coughed. I carefully chose my foods to hopefully avoid choking because of congestion. Respiratory infections are gross enough because I was coughing up dreadful stuff. As a quadriplegic, I have never found a way to do that discreetly.
I sucked on citrus flavored lozenges that contained vitamin C, and they did an amazing job clearing my throat. I sipped lemonade, which was soothing, and also drank a lot of fluids to help get rid of whatever was ailing me.
Since I seldom get laryngitis, I will not forget this episode—my longest case to date. Though my voice is back, it is still a bit weak.
I have to admit being congested scares me. I cannot get up, move around or do the things that are necessary to help clear the infection. But I try to do what I can: eat, drink and rest.
Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is an incomplete quadriplegic and uses a power wheelchair to get around. Her computer is her “window on the world.” This blog shares her thoughts and view of life as a nursing home resident as well as ideas of how it might be improved in the future.