I’ve Lost My Hearing and I Want It Back

When it comes to my hearing, 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 – and I don’t know if this is true of other people who live successfully 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 challenges.   I accept those days as  just part of the hearing loss life.

The following piece 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 – infinitesimally,  slowly, 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?

Who applauds?

     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 –

But damn!

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

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 hearing aids, ‘too well’ for a cochlear implant.

 

OK, OK –  I’m grateful for the technology and the will to communicate

That have stopped the descent into deafness

And found me my place in the sun.

 

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.

 

 

About Gael Hannan

The Better HearingConsumer addresses the personal experience of living with hearing loss. Editor Gael Hannan and her occasional guest bloggers explore every corner of the hearing loss life with humor and poignancy. Comment Policy   Gael Hannan, Editor Gael Hannan is an author, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog at the Better Hearing Consumer, which has a passionate international following,Gael has written two acclaimed books, “The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss”and “Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss”, written with Shari Eberts. She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work that advocates for individuals to become more knowledgeable and successful at dealing with their hearing loss and a more inclusive society for them to live in. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, Canada. Books and other media Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss. Written with Shari Eberts and available anywhere books are sold. The Way I Hear It: A Life With Hearing Loss. Available through online bookstores. Unheard Voices, DVD, vignettes from the hearing loss life. Contact Gael Hannan to order.

12 Comments

  1. I’m just 3 months into my new cochlear implant and besides the sheer amount and detail of sound and hearing improvement (YMMV) I’ve definitely noticed it takes much much less effort to listen and hear compared to before.

    But ‘hearing’ and ‘communication’ ups and downs are a part of life..even for those with normal hearing. Have you ever had a conversation with someone, and in the end of it all realized that they didn’t really ‘say’ much? Or have you found that after all that effort of listening, you felt like it didn’t end up being worth the expense of that attention?

    To me, that’s the threshold shift I’ve strived to give, so that hearing is no longer so much the object of our efforts but just a tool that merely subject in our bigger intentions.

  2. THAT WAS A BEAUTIFUL POEM. DEFINITELIY HAVE SOME OF MY OWN BAD EAR DAYS EVEN WITH THE NEW DIGITIAL HEARIG AIDE THAT GAVE ME BACK SOME OF MY HEARING. WONDEROUS THING HAPPENED TODAY FOUND OUT I COULD TAKE THE ASL IMMERSION CLASS WITH MY ATTENDENT FOR PRICE OF ONE. ITS A COURSE OF ACTION I HAVE BEEN WANTING TO TAKE AS SPEECHREADING DOES NOT ALWAYS WORK ESPECIALLY ON A BAD HAIR DAY OR WHEN AM WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS AN ACCENT

  3. Gael you’ve described beautifully in your poem how we often enter into the grief process over and over again as our hearing declines. It’s a normal part of the ebb and flow of losing our hearing bit by bit…….

  4. Yes, we are fortunate to have such wonderful technology today, but even so there are definitely ‘bad hearing days’. The toughest part is that they seem to come at the worst possible times…like when you’re with family you’ve not seen for a while. When the excitement of fresh communication brings smiles and laughter to everyone around you. Those times when you sit there smiling while wondering what’s so funny? What’s so amazing? What’s so sad? When you know your interrupting will change the mood….so you don’t. Even though you also know that when you ask ‘later’ no one will really remember what it was you missed. Because ‘it wasn’t important’. Those are my ‘bad hearing days’…and because they now involve grand children with soft voices, and their parents who talk too fast or soft to try get words in edgewise or unheard by little ears, it can be even more exasperating! Yet, before I go to bed each night I remind myself how thankful I am for the things I CAN hear with my cochlear implant and know I’m very richly blessed. (Then I start planning on how I can get each of these wonderful creatures alone so I can talk to them one on one…and they usually say ‘yes’. I love that part.)

  5. Gael:
    Beautifully written. You’re a poet. Thanks for sharing, it keeps me motivated to do the work I do.

  6. CAN NOT GET NAMEIN PROPER BLOCK –HEARING LOSS SINCE 1970 NOW HAVE C I (PAST 6 YEARS) STILL CRY BECAUSE I MISSED THE SPEAKERS MESSAGE– FRUSTRATING NORM BABBITT

  7. People with hearing loss suffer in silence in the hearing world. However it was not until I joined HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America) that I was able to educate myself with information that provides me the ability to deal with my hearing loss. What HLAA did for me was educate me in what I needed to know when purchasing a hearing aid, knowledge about telecoils, assistive listening devices and CART (Communication Access Assistive Realtime Translation).

  8. Excellent words that reveal what’s inside of us when we are cut off from others because of our hearing.
    I’m with you, Gael. Some days, I am brave but often have a moment when my courage is erased and replaced by sadness for myself and what I miss and for what others miss because of it. As Scarlett O’Hara said, “I’ll think about it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.”

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