Elena Bowes

New York-London design & culture writer of a certain vintage looking for meaning and wholeness in life

Christmas Vacation Part I- Caring for Your Vocal Cords

January 24th, 2023

I think the big difference between 50 and 60 is at 50 I didn’t think about my health much.  At 60, it’s a full-time job. I pulled a hamstring running across the street. We’re not talking marathons here, literally from one sidewalk to the other, maybe a marathon for a turtle. But the pulled hamstring was peanuts compared to what Santa gave me for Christmas.

Have you ever had laryngitis? I don’t recommend it, especially at Christmas. Talk about inconvenient. There’s nothing like losing your voice surrounded by family and friends especially for me, a Gemini. Not talking for me is like not breathing. It’s how I connect to people.

Google cautions that even whispering can further harm your vocal cords. Google didn’t stop there.  It also said no alcohol, no coffee, no dairy. On Christmas. With family. And then just to twist the knife it added, no crying.

So there I was, wishing I could cry about not being allowed to cry, but no. My kids teased me that we could play Charades and I could always be It. Hahhaha. Wait. Can I laugh?

Thank God for White Lotus. Like 4 million other Netflix viewers, it cheered me up to watch other miserable souls. I also got into Wordle, a gloriously silent game, only to discover that my son’s girlfriend was a Wordle-wiz. She grew up in Delhi and could get words like ‘belie’ and ‘pixie’ in three goes. We are a competitive family and I am a nasty loser.  I blamed Aashali’s wins on her schooling in India vs. America where I went to school and they definitely didn’t teach these words.

And in any case, I ranted on the group chat, no one uses these words now so they’re not really words. No one responded. I had sunk to new lows.

At the laryngitis specialist I visited, I was informed that in addition to treating normal humans, she also treated performing artists, like opera singers who needed to be able to sing in a few days. I nodded vigorously. Gave her a thumb’s up.  I, too, am an opera singer, I texted from two feet away. I left out in the shower.

Once armed with my new meds, I agreed to drink 10,000 cups of my friend Nancy Lichterman’s magical, but hardly delicious, homemade brew. If you’re an opera singer, like me, or just concerned about your vocal cord health, put turmeric, honey, fresh ginger, cinnamon and lemon in a teapot of hot water and drink it constantly. By New Year’s Eve, I was able to hoarsely utter phrases like “ola” and “buenos dias” which came in handy as I was heading to Mexico with Stretch.

Stay tuned for next week’s part II of my Christmas Holiday which includes my Insider’s Guide to Mexico and How to Get Along With Your Spouse When You Have No One Else to Talk To. And because I’m 60, a new weird illness that made me yearn for sea level.

January, 2023

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