Monday, March 23, 2015

Am I Hearing This Right?

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

This all started out innocuously enough: just little things. I would miss a word here or there in conversation, or I didn’t realize someone was speaking to me until they called me by name. But then, two years ago, I noticed I was having to ask people to repeat themselves more often than I used to. And gradually I was turning up the TV just a little at a time. I could mask it at work a lot by watching people talk, by watching their lips move, but lately, it’s gotten much worse. There’s simply no denying it any longer.

I’m losing my hearing.

I’ve been denying this for a long time because at first I thought, “No, I’m much too young for this. I’m only in my 30’s for goodness sake.” So I pretended it wasn’t happening. I can’t pretend any longer. There are certain pitches I can’t hear at all now, and that scares me. I asked my doctor for a referral to an ENT and today I went.

My diagnosis? Sensorineural Hearing Loss. It’s permanent hearing loss. There’s no medication or surgery that can correct it, it cannot be reversed, and it will get worse. My doctor was surprised to see the onset of it in someone so young since it began a couple of years ago.

“It will get worse,” she told me.

This was so much to take in. Worse? I thought for a moment. “Is there a timeline?” I asked her.

She said that there is no way of knowing when I will lose my hearing. I have hearing loss in both ears. It’s a little different in each ear, but they equal each other out. My high register is almost completely gone except for the tinnitus (ringing) that I continually experience. My doctor said that is very common with hearing loss. Thin sounds are harder to hear than rich sounds. I could lose my hearing in ten years, or in forty. We can’t know.

I’ll have to have yearly hearing exams to monitor my progress. Hope is not lost, though. Tomorrow I have a consultation at the hearing aid office. We will discuss everything from hearing aids to cochlear implants. They are working hard to keep me in the hearing world so the voices of my children remain a reality to me, and not just a memory. I can’t imagine not hearing them call my name, not hearing them laugh, not hearing them chatter on about their days. That latent parental wish for just five minutes of silence may turn into far more than I ever desired.

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