Today I’m speaking at a conference of people with hearing loss – one of my favorite things to do. The shared emotions and experiences of people who ‘get’ each other is eternally inspiring to me.
Usually, I have a grateful soul. I’m thankful for technology, the support of others and the passion for advocacy that my hearing loss has given me.
But – like most people who live successfully or otherwise with their communication challenges – every once in a while, I have a ‘bad hearing’ day.
On ‘those days’, nothing much has changed from the day before except, for whatever reason, the ability to cope gracefully with communication frustrations.
The following ode to frustration, written almost 10 years ago (and which still holds true on occasion), came out of one of ‘those days’.
I’ve lost my hearing,
And I want it back.
Through the years it has seeped away, silent and unseen,
A slow dripping of the sense of sound,
A weakening of words, a wearing down of connections.
I realize, in moments that are shocking and sharp,
That my hearing is changing, slowly and surely
And the shape of my audiogram is shifting downwards.
Where am I on the chronological timeline of coping with hearing loss?
They say we grieve, progressing from denial through anger and finally to acceptance.
It sounds easy, like a children’s game, moving through the levels,
Conquering each one and moving on to the next and the next, to the ultimate goal.
I know the starting line, but where’s the finish line
And what happens when you cross it?
What’s the prize?
What will be different now?
I thought I had crossed the line and grabbed the brass ring
Of a good life with hearing loss, and maybe I did –
There are days when I find myself going around that racetrack, one more time.
Days when every ‘pardon?’ is a knife on my tongue
Days when ‘oh, never mind’ is a punch in the gut.
Days when, at the audiologist, I want to yell to
At the other clients, quietly waiting
Hey people, guess what? I’m not like you, I don’t really belong here!”
But I do. Because this is my place, the only place where I can go and say:
Hello, I’ve lost my hearing and I want it back.
Do tears make a sound as they slide down a cheek?
Can you hear my embarrassment when I get things wrong?
How noisy is my frustration when I lose the words of a conversation?
Or are they as silent as these sounds are to me?
Taps dripping, stairs creaking,
And in what tree the bird is chirping
Snow crunching, fire crackling,
Husband breathing, clock ticking
Timers beeping, doorbell ringing
My child whispering, a toilet running
Fingers snapping, toes tapping
Tongue clicking, cats spitting…
Sometimes, if all else is silent, I hear them and am thrilled,
Because I ‘do well’ with my cochlear implant and hearing aids.
OK, OK – I’m grateful for the technology and the will to communicate
That have allowed me to celebrate and participate in the world of sound.
Today’s just one of those days, I guess.
Tomorrow I’ll feel better, but today –
I’ve lost my hearing and I want it back.
But today’s not one of ‘those days’, but it’s important toacknowledge a bad hearing day once in a while, so that we can better appreciate all the other good days.