As a loving father, I spend a lot of time reading to my daughter. And I love it! I enjoy reading almost more than anything else. I have fun sharing stories with my girl and watching her appetite for them grow. And I adore seeing her develop her own interest in reading as well. As any reading parent will probably tell you, though, there comes a point in time in which you’ve read every children’s book in your home approximately seven-and-a-half million times, and they begin to wear on you. By now we already know that Pinkalicious tells sub-par jokes with a pink-themed punchline, Fancy Nancy is somewhat delusional and thinks butterflies understand French, and big red dogs are both extremely loveable and not remotely practical. Every time my daughter brings me one of her books to read to her, I find myself asking, “Wouldn’t you rather I read from the dictionary today? Wouldn’t that be fun?” She’s six and doesn’t know what the dictionary is at this point, but I imagine that would lose its luster rather quickly. Amidst the small mountains of kids’ books in our home, one can occasionally find a rare gem that I haven’t read quite as often, making it feel at least a little novel (see what I did there?). Enter The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor. (And yes, it is BerenSTAIN, not BerenSTEIN; if you remember otherwise, you’re probably suffering from a case of the Mandela Effect.) We have a number of Berestain books chronicling the wily antics of Papa, Mama, Brother, and Sister bear in all manner of everyday situations. The one in which they make a routine doctor visit, however, is one of the few that hasn’t made quite as many rounds through my hands. When my daughter asked me to read this one, I was about as excited as a 30-year-old man can get to read a book about a family of bears and healthcare.
To summarize the book—because I’m sure you’re dying to know—Brother and Sister Bear have appointments for regularly scheduled, mundane check-ups with the doctor. Throughout the day, Mama tries to alleviate their worries and answer their questions while Papa contributes with a constant refrain of, “I never get sick. ACHOO!” Hmmm…I think I see where this is going. I’ll spare you all of the complex plot points and character development and skip to the end, in which we see Papa in bed, being served a thick syrupy spoonful of cold medicine, saying, “Okay, I almost never get sick.” Insert laugh track here.
Oh, Papa bear. What a goofy goober. We chuckled. We marveled at how oblivious he was to his fate. And then I made a terrible mistake. I turned to my daughter and said, “You know, I’m kind of like Papa Bear. I almost never get sick.” I mean, how dumb can you be, really? Saying something like that is basically challenging the universe to prove you wrong. And sure enough, by Sunday night I could tell I was entering one of those few and far between seasons that dwell in the almost of almost never getting sick.
Now, it is true. I’m generally an overall healthy guy. I almost never get sick. But when I do…oh boy, when I do I do it hard. For a full work week after uttering those stupid words I found myself living the horizontal life. I coughed so much my abs probably look like LEGO Batman’s. I lived in a perpetual state of lightheadedness. My nose was in a constant state of flux, never knowing if it wanted to run or be stuffed. And it felt like Flubber took up residence in my head, dangling parts of itself down the back of my sinuses and watching me suffer. All of this combined was an obvious recipe for quality sleep—oh wait, no it wasn’t—which only seemed to prolong it all that much longer. But hey, at least it wasn’t COVID! There are all sorts of reasons it sucks to be sick. Getting behind on my to-do list is a big one. Feeling overwhelmed with my overloaded to-do list once I’m healthy again is another. For the first time in my marriage, I slept in a separate room from my wife while we were under the same roof. I was more than willing to sacrifice to make sure she stayed healthy so she wouldn’t fall behind in school (and could take care of poor me during the day), but it was lonely. And then there was the impact it had on my voice. For most this probably isn’t a huge deal, but for a voiceover artist it’s everything.
I certainly wasn’t feeling up to spending any time in my booth anyway, but even if I had been, there wouldn’t have been much of a point. My voice was low and gravelly on one end and cracked like an adolescent in heat on the other. Sure, it’s cool to explore that lower, gritty register that is normally unattainable for me, but sadly it’s not sustainable. I could never audition for a project on that voice because I’d never be able to reproduce it when I was healthy. Someone should really discover how to harness that voice at will. I know a few voice actors that would pay through the nose to add that to their arsenal. Being sick at this point in my VO career is one of the few times I’m grateful to not yet be inundated with gigs. I definitely would have fallen behind, had to reschedule deadlines, and possibly even lost some clients as a result. As it was, I did have to reschedule a coaching session because I couldn’t complete the homework. Turns out I’ve got plenty of time now since the next available opening was over a month away.
For anyone, getting better is usually the number one priority during sickness. No one likes being sick—unless they’re a masochist, in which case please feel free to come and steal my sickness at any time, free of charge. For those who work in VO, though, there’s an added pressure to regain health. Our livelihoods and our craft depend on us being able to use our voice, and when we can’t it can easily feel like we’re letting a lot of folks down. That said, I think we all have our go to remedies that we rely on to help us speed up the recovery process, whether they actually work or not. From Throat Coat tea to warm beverages with honey, lemon, and/or ginger to gargling saltwater to various applications of essential oils, we do what we can to get better. While all of these things have their merits, simple straightforward rest is the key in my experience. I can use all of the health hacks I want, but if I’m pushing myself to be better before I am, I only end up getting worse. Yes, it can be excruciating to take yourself out of the game for several days to recover, but the alternative is almost always worse.
Just rest, Baymax. Don't try to overdo it.
How do you get through seasons of sickness? Do you have any tried-and-true remedies to perk yourself back up? Do you ever battle with guilt for taking downtime while others have to work that much harder to stay on top of things and look after you? As much as I hate being sick, it does remind me of so many things I have to be grateful for: my wife, who I genuinely think might be a superhero; a season of life in which being sick doesn’t have a huge negative impact; and the fact that these sicknesses are infrequent for me. Here’s to navigating sickness well and experiencing quick recoveries—oh, and to not being quite as overconfident as Papa Bear.
Until next time, friends, keep telling stories.
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Voiceover Artist | Storyteller
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