Hearing Loss – Why Me?

We struggle to hear. We put our head in our hands as tinnitus rages and hyperacusis makes unbearable sounds inside our skull.

Why me? We ask this silently to others but loudly to ourselves. Why does this have to happen to me? Why can’t I have an issue that medication or therapy can fix, or at least eliminate for a few hours or a few days?

If the universe could answer you, or God and the angels, or whatever spirits sustain you – they might answer this: Why NOT you?

Why would you not be susceptible to any of the gazillion problems that can ‘go wrong’ with the organic, live, breathing creature that’s you, a human being.

Poets and preachers tell us that, in our world, all things rise and all things pass away. Flowers, animals, drops of water, food and plants – and the human body. Some things change in shape and content as they grow, or as the elements wear them down. It’s the same with the human body; as we change from baby people into older versions of ourselves, not all the developments are the good kind. Some cause pain, both physical and mental, and hearing loss and chronic head noise are just two of these conditions.

What I had to realize, although it took a long time, that whatever caused my hearing loss, it wasn’t me. We haven’t done bad things to deserve this as punishment. Perhaps we made some poor choices in exposing our hearing to excessive, damaging noise. And maybe we didn’t seek help as quickly as we should when we first noticed problems. But we did not make this “horrible” thing happen.

When we understand that forces beyond our control caused our body to develop hearing loss or head noise, and that these same forces affect most other people in some way, then it’s easier to change the question to: Why NOT me?

It’s normal to be angry because you must struggle to hear. Who are you going to be angry at? Yourself, your parents, society? OK, that’s normal. And it’s common to feel embarrassed, even shame and guilt, at how our condition affects our interaction with others.

But not as a permanent state, because it doesn’t achieve anything. The only way these emotions will help you hear better is to use them as steppingstones to acceptance. When you replace painful attitudes with more positive ones, you can get on the with the business of doing something about it (and there are many things you can do).

I still have those down days of frustration, when I feel like I just can’t do this today…why do I have to be the one going through this…why do I have to be the one who can’t enjoy music the way I used to and instead, I have to listen to the world’s worst band playing in my head? Why!?

Then I stop. I change the questions. At my age (or any age), to have a body that is perfect and pain-free, and a mind that is free from worry or crazy-making thoughts, is unrealistic. But if not hearing loss, what other condition would I choose? Would I rather be my husband, who suffers from constant neck pain, and who struggles to sleep comfortably every single night? Would I rather be going through the worry, pain and indignities of cancer, like my sister does?

I can’t truly imagine their pain or fear, just as they can’t really understand mine. But we acknowledge and respect and support each other for our individual burdens.

So, howl at the moon and wave your fists at the heavens, if that will clear your emotions and make you feel better, for a little while. Then, find other ways to go forward. I promise, I’ll be going forward with you. Why not me?

 

 

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". 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, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

6 Comments

  1. So true, Gael.

    Feeling sorry for myself is just a waste of time and energy.

    It is what it is and I’ve kept myself occupied with art abd music and friends and crafts… all things that bring me joy.

    Most hearing people don’t get it. They don’t understand that hearing aids don’t give me perfect hearing , like eyeglasses give perfect vision

    So, I don’t bang my head against the wall, anymore, trying to explain

    It could be worse.

    I live my life being grateful, for the good things I have… for not having other things wrong with me.

    Gratitude is powerful… it keeps me happy and sane.

    Thanks for writing this. It reminded me to choose joy.

    Ever onward

    Ronnie

  2. Wonderful article Gael, as per usual. You just seem to know who to ground us in the real world and keep on moving forward. Thanks girl.

  3. Why not me? I agree it could be a lot worse, even if it is bad enough. I do however have to be aware of the pitfalls that can arise from hearing loss, such as accidents, loss of sleep on overall health, the need to assess affects of attending social engagements that could be stressful etc.

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