The hearing care professionals joke about us, the people with hearing loss, among themselves. (They do, I know they do!)
We’re the people who delay doing anything about our hearing loss for years, yet once we’re used to our hearing aids and cochlear implants, we can’t do without them for a moment. Mysteriously dead batteries cause panic. Hearing aids that ‘sound funny’ can raise our blood pressure until the hearing care professional fixes them.
I’m calmer these days, but a few years ago I spent three interminable hours while my hearing aids were ‘being looked at’ by technicians at the manufacturer’s offices.
Sitting Here, Deaf
I’m sitting here, quietly and deaf
Waiting for my hearing aids to come back.
They are being examined, possibly repaired
By technicians who may not know
They have my life in their hands.
This may be the twentieth set
They’ve worked on today
Under their magnifiers and lights,
Looking for what’s wrong and
What might be fixed.
But really, do they know
They’re poking at my insides,
Dissecting organs of communication
That connect me to the world?
I’m waiting here, nervous and deaf
In a temporary vacuum, void of sound
I clear my throat, but cannot hear it.
I’m worried –
Perhaps there’s something seriously wrong
And if it can be fixed,
Things will sound so different and loud
That I’ll startle at car horns
And cringe at the cat’s howl.
I’m pacing, anxious and deaf
Half cursing my dependency
On these two bits of digital technology.
I feel as if I’m separated from my children
Unable to focus on anything but them,
Worrying and wondering how the technicians are doing…
Perhaps having coffee and joking with colleagues?
But hopefully focused and intent, because
Surely they’ve been trained and sensitized
To know that what they’re working with
Goes beyond a fusion of wires and plastic and chips –
These are creations of human genius
An eloquent expression of our ability to make
Something from nothing – to create communication out of silence.
Do they know that?
I hope so but I won’t know so
Until she comes back with my ear-babies and says,
“Here, try them now.”
I’ll put them in and start the ritual
That tells me how they’re working.
I clear my throat – once for sound, twice for reassurance –
My voice will rise and fall, whisper and boom –
As I test myself with a fragment of nursery rhyme.
Mary had a little lamb,
Lamb, lamb, LITTLE LAMB!
Mary, mary, MARY, mary…
Then I’ll know that I can hear, and maybe hear well…
But whatever happens, whatever the verdict,
I hope she brings them back soon
To where I’m sitting and waiting –
Deaf, quiet and anxious.