“Is this it?”, I wonder, “Have I just accepted it now? I’m not going to freak out, break down, be incapacitated with grief?”
I go through each day and do what I normally did. Nothing has changed, except I can’t hear. I still make dinner, do dishes, watch TV, joke with my family.
Am I really that strong that I just accepted this huge change in my life with grace? I go to doctor’s appointments and see the sadness in their eyes, and I want to say, “You have NO IDEA what this has been like. I look like I’m just taking it in stride but oh my GOD, I can’t hear!”
And I am not alone. So many other people have had this exact experience and they just go along, do what needs to be done. It’s amazing to me, the ability to adapt without missing a beat.
I had one big cry, the morning I realized my hearing was really, really bad. I wailed and sobbed, I told Dave I didn’t want to be deaf, I didn’t want to not hear his voice any more. As I cried I was thinking, “Well. I’m being a little dramatic here…I’m sure my hearing will get better and I’ll be embarrassed that I overreacted.” At that point, I had no idea that my hearing would totally abandon me. It felt good to cry, though, because I really was scared, terrified.
And then it happened, my hearing left me and … nothing. No more crying, no more feeling sorry for myself, no more wondering, “Why me?”
In one week, I will have been deaf for one month. A month! I can’t believe it’s nearly been a month. I looked at my audiograms today. My speech recognition in my left ear used to be 92%. Now for both ears it is NR – no response. I mean, I don’t hear anything at all. It still seems hard to comprehend.
So I wonder…am I just this amazingly strong person? I don’t think I am. I know a lot of people who’ve dealt with this kind of hearing loss and just went on with their life. Or maybe it’s the fact that we all dealt with it in a similar way, by looking for support (online mailing lists and bulletin boards). Maybe there’s a whole bunch of people out there who are not dealing with it, but they’re alone in their grief.
I can only speak for myself. I know that a major, major factor in my attitude is my family and their support. I am so lucky. My husband is my best friend and we spend all day, every day together. He never loses patience with me and he does everything he can to find ways to make communication easier. My kids treat me no differently – they still talk to me, tell me about their days at school. They make more of an effort to enunciate and, in Raven’s case, to talk a little slower (teenage girls can talk a mile a minute!) My mom makes an effort to stop by every other day or so, just to talk for a few minutes, give me a hug, fill me in on what’s happening in her life. My brother emails me at least 4 or 5 times a week – I probably talk more now to my family than I ever did!
I feel surrounded by love and by people who care about me. It would be a very different life if I felt like everyone was perpetually annoyed by how difficult it was to communicate with me now.
My biggest fear was being told “It’s not important, just forget it” if I didn’t catch something the first one or two times. To my family’s credit, they’ve never done that to me. They might have to pick up a notebook and jot down a word to help me out, but they do it without exasperation.
I did make a conscious effort to be the kind of person people enjoy being around. Positive, not reclusive. I mean, really – who wants to spend much time with someone who complains all the time? As Pollyanna as it sounds, I really did look on the bright side. This isn’t fatal. I can still move around, do what I want to do … I just can’t hear. It’s a huge change, but it’s not the end of the world.
I guess that attitude becomes a habit. If I woke up every day with dread, I probably couldn’t get through the day. And I don’t feel like there’s a reason to dwell on my recent hearing loss. It happened. And now life goes on.
Still though, really? I’m deaf, and it’s been a month, and the world hasn’t ended? I go through my day just like before, except now I do it with an endless cacophony in my head, a deafening absence of sound…and yet it’s nothing but sound, constant noise.
I go downstairs, rifle through the kids’ school supplies, find a lime green folder. This is my new CI folder.
Just like fall always felt like a new adventure, starting a new school year, this will be another new adventure. My road to (hopefully) hearing with a CI.