Sunday, July 2, 2017

Summer Cold and an App That Speaks

I managed to catch a cold this summer. I've been in an enclosed space with people other than my immediate family just a handful of times. I use hand sanitizer and I never, ever touch my eye even if it becomes extremely itchy at the very moment I know my hands are contaminated with people germs.

Still, in spite of my best efforts, I felt tired. Then achy. A tickle in my throat and an occasional dry cough joined one swollen gland. By evening on the first day of the illness I was sporting a low grade fever and chills. A brief period found me on the floor, writhing in pain and nausea, calling for a bucket as I'd become convinced it was that kind of virus. 

It wasn't and I knew then that I was going to lose my voice. 

Every cold of my adult life has led to this raspy, Janis Joplin, froggy voice that persists for weeks. After a day of singing Me and Bobby Magee, I was left with just a crackly whisper. I finally decided to do the right thing. I would stop talking. 

At first I tried to fall back on the horribly insufficient sign language vocabulary our family shares. 

"I help you," I signed to my husband. I even did it right and it was elementary baby sign. Surely he would get it. 
"You need to poop?" he says. 

Several failed ASL attempts later I downloaded a text to speech app. Female American Siri voice handled two thirds of my day's speaking duties. 

"Is there anything we can do to help you get dinner ready?" they asked. They're being so helpful since I'm sick. 
"Do you turd blossoms know how to do dishes?" Female American Siri asked.

And they did know how. It was pretty amazing. I was able to save a few frequently used phrases into the app. "Don't do that," being the most used. It saved time having that at the ready. 

By dinner, I'd grown tired of typing and everyone missed the sound of my croaking. I tried to talk and managed varying degrees of volume, rasp, and squeak. My daughter says I sound "cute."

I will most likely sound abnormal or even cute for the next month. Perhaps we'll find new motivation to get on the same page with our ASL vocabulary. Either that or they'll have to come to terms with occasionally having mom's input delivered via robot voice.

I'll save the phrase "turd blossom" as a favorite, just in case.