Wednesday, October 07, 2009


In August, I lost my voice.

I don't mean figuratively. I mean literally.

I caught a bad respiratory infection. (The Swine Flu? The Bird Flu? A cold? Who knows.) And then a secondary bacterial infection. Bronchitis. Laryngitis. I developed a fiery sore throat and a hacking cough. My voice grew gravelly, and then it went whispery, and then it started cutting out altogether, without warning, mid-word, and I could no longer make myself understood.

That same week, the week I lost my voice, my son started kindergarten.

There were things, many things, I wanted to tell his teacher. About his sensory disorder. About his difficulty properly holding a crayon, about his inability to sit still for long periods of time, about his inability to concentrate in the presence of certain types of noise. About his facility with language, about his ability to multiply single digit numbers and read chapter books. About his sensitivity — about the time he cried because a girl didn't want to take a card he had made for her. About the fact that he not only knows the names of all the eight planets (and poor demoted dwarf Pluto) but also is capable of explaining that a black hole warps time itself with extreme gravity — that once caught in the trap of a black hole, nothing, not even light, can escape.

I wanted to tell her these things, but I couldn't tell her all of these things, because I had no voice. On Meet the Teacher Night, hopped up on medication, I rasped vaguely and asked whether she had had a chance yet to look over his preschool records.

On the second morning of school he cried and asked not to go. He cried and begged for me not to take him to class on the third and the fourth and the fifth day of school. And the sixth. And the seventh. And the eighth. And on the ninth and tenth days of school the boy who used to hop happily onto the bus for preschool without so much as a wave goodbye refused to eat his breakfast and cried so hard he almost vomited.

And still I could barely speak. I could barely eat. I was prescribed a second round of antibiotics. A chest X-ray.

I left barely audible messages on my son's teacher's voice mail, and received formulaic responses.

During the second week of school, my son did not want to eat dinner, or take baths, or go to sleep. One night, as I sat beside him in a dark room, he asked me to estimate the likelihood of the Earth and everyone on it being swallowed up by a black hole before dawn.

And so when my voice came back, it could only say one thing. And that thing was, help him. Help him. Help him.

It's practically all I've been able to say for almost two months now.

I am not being well listened to.

I'm about to get louder.


Farrell said...

How heartbreaking:(

R said...

It makes me shake with anger that the school system, and certain individuals within it, make this necessary-- but, since it is so, at least Isaac has the very best, most passionate, advocate he could ever ask for. I know it is a poor excuse of a bright side, but I do not doubt your power for one second.

Awesome Mom said...

Keep yelling as loud as you can and for as long as you can. Eventually they give in just to keep you quiet. It is exhausting but so worth it. I wish I could send you the name of my advocacy group but it is a state based one and well you live in a different state.

Michelle said...

Go for it. Squeak loudly. It's how I got results for my kids instead of blank looks or the "We're the administrators so we know better than you" attitudes (that's what I experienced a couple of weeks ago, as a matter of fact).

I wish you well. It's a tough battle, I know.