Sometimes I hate being right. The moment the Audiologist confirmed my suspicion, I knew this was one of those times. I’m not sure if it was the ringing sound that seems to keep getting louder and more distracting or noticing that I am constantly saying “what?” to friends and family that made me talk to the doctor, but when I finally said it out loud, my assumption was confirmed. I have to say, I’m still in shock really. Having worked as a Sign Language Interpreter for 16 years, I never considered that at some point I would be the one with the hearing loss. So, I guess you could say this is some crazy irony.
My first thoughts went to my heathy body parts. I’m grateful for things like my strong knees and my healthy organs. I’m grateful to be approaching 40 this year at a healthy BMI and good cholesterol and all that. So, all things considered, I’m happy about my body and I remain thankful for how it carries me through life. But, my hearing…. Not something I ever considered before, I simply just took it for granted. Even after spending a good portion of my life studying Deaf Culture, Sign Language and enjoying many friendships with people whom I communicate with solely in ASL (American Sign Language) did I ever consider how a hearing loss would impact me personally. Seeing words written on paper like “hearing loss” and “possible irreversible nerve damage” and finding out that the situation can actually worsen impacted me deeply. My mind has gone to where a hearing loss would effect me as far as my children are concerned. That above all else is what concerns me the most. Will I be able to hear them call for help? Will I hear them cry out in the night? I’m used to being able to use this sense, it’s disarming to have it taken from you.
Other changes I notice are with music and communicating with friends and family. I notice it during tennis lessons, while watching television, during dinner conversations, and in a noisy restaurant. If I’m talking to someone and they turn away or leave the room I know I’m in trouble. I had to turn on the closed captions to watch a movie on the airplane during my last couple flights to catch more of the words. It was amazing how much more relaxed I felt after I did that. I hadn’t noticed how hard I had been straining to understand speech. This has all been happening over the last year or so, but when that audiologist confirmed it last week it was as if a series of snapshots played in my head over and over reminding me of all the times I had suspected this about myself before I actually said it out loud. And now here it is, out loud.
I think we have more than five senses. Our physical senses may be taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing, but we have so many more. Consider our additional senses such as our sense of gratitude, our sense of humor, our sense of wonder and all of the senses that we all need to complete this experience in life. You can experience these other senses without all of the main body senses. You don’t need to necessarily touch, taste, or smell something to experience it’s sense of wonder…. I don’t need to hear every bit of a song anymore to still feel gratitude for it. So I’m going beyond my five original senses to discover more senses to explore since there is so much more to life. I’ll be able to adapt to this new challenge, but it may take some getting used to.