Sotto Voce – Involuntariamente

Sotto voce (literally “under voice”) means intentionally lowering the volume of one’s voice for emphasis. The speaker gives the impression of uttering involuntarily a truth which may surprise, shock, or offend.

In law, sotto voce on a transcript indicates a conversation heard below the hearing of the court reporter.

In literature, drama, and rhetoric, sotto voce is used to denote emphasis attained by lowering one’s voice rather than raising it.

In music, sotto voce denotes a dramatic lowering of the vocal or instrumental volume — not necessarily pianissimo, but a definitely hushed tonal quality.

These are all (Wikipedia) examples of intentionally speaking with a hushed voice so in these situations you actually seem to make a point of speaking in a hushed, quiet voice.

My own sotto voce is totally involuntary and I am making it no secret how the lack of my voice is affecting me emotionally and mentally. When around people, particularly at work, I try and make light of the situation as best as I can. After all, the last thing you want, or can allow to happen is for your personal circumstances to penetrate the professionalism. That’s why I actually avoid speaking to people any more than necessary at the moment. Which is weighing me down as I am normally somewhat of a chatter box (I can actually see those who read this blog and know me nodding their head wildly in agreement). It is too draining to constantly hear ‘What? can you say that again? I didn’t hear you‘ and repeat things tenfold. But, on a whole, as depressing this state is, I can mostly deal with it. I try and find my little islands of comfort, whether that be reading a book with a glass of wine, or a hot bath or even a run.

Today I had a patient in my chair. An elderly patient, though nowadays, can you call someone in their late 60′s elderly? I have to endure every other patient that walks through my door and sits on my chair, asking me the typical ‘oh have you got a sore throat/lost your voice?’ And usually, once I mention what I had done, most of them are quite apologetic, embarrassed even, and go on to either asking curious questions, which I don’t mind answering (even though by the end of the day I feel more like a broken record than a Dental Hygienist) or saying nothing more about it.

In this case it started off basically the same. However within minutes of me asking the things I am meant to, and throughout the entire appointment, I get constant “jokes” about how I should speak up or stop shouting. Yeah, very funny. I can barely contain myself laughing. In actual fact, during the appointment I would have loved nothing more than to shove one of my lovely, sharp instruments into his gums, and by the end I was ready to burst into tears once he had left the surgery. He wasn’t being nasty as such, and probably was totally unaware of the situation he was creating (just goes to show how much I at least try and be professional in my job). And in ‘normal’ circumstances (like with the voice I have had since 2004) I would have played along and brushed it off. 

‘Tis the season (soon) to be jolly and as much as I am looking forward to the festivities of the various work places I know will be coming, I am dreading them at the same time. The last ‘public event‘ had me sitting in the corner (at least that’s what it felt like) with not being able to speak to the others around me. Efforts were made, but due to my pitch I cannot make myself heard. Nor participate in any active conversation as my voice is not able to penetrate any flowing chit-chat. People just get on with their conversations. I know it is still some weeks until then and vocally things may well improve yet, but from where I am standing at the moment, I don’t see that happening. At least not to a degree where I can comfortably make myself heard. It was already difficult in a crowd before this operation, but now, at the moment… Impossible. And this appointment I had to try and carry out as professionally as possible, and did, despite inner urges of being uber-thorough in my work, really made it hit home once again. 

Yes, there are positives of course. My breathing has stayed steady. And by that I mean unobstructed. At least that’s what it feels like. I am very gradually getting my physical strength back, having started running short distances and swimming. And the scars are very gradually starting to fade. At least the external ones. But, I think until I regain my voice, the internal ones will remain red and raw. Damn sotto voce.

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