Sunday, August 30, 2009


I just had a wonderful conversation with my best friend. I'm so lucky to be married to him, too. Never has conversation been more precious to me. Never has it been more difficult to have a good conversation. As I sink deeper into hearing loss, every single word that gets through is a gem.

Picture sitting around the dinner table with everyone who is important to you. Only this time, pretend you are watching each one on television with the sound on mute. You can hear them but not what they are saying. You can't talk to them. They can't talk to you. You sort of know what they are talking about, but not the specifics.

Imagine being a source of irritation to people. Imagine everyone talking to you with their voices raised. Imagine people choosing not to talk to you because it is such a nuisance. Imagine listening to music you love and realizing it is kind of boring now because you are missing most of it. Imagine watching a movie and not understanding any of the dialogue because there are no captions.

Some of the most meaningful times in life revolve around good conversation.


John Lynch said...

Please do not say that you are a source of irritation to us. No one I know thinks of you that way. We're all trying to figure out the best way to adjust to your hearing loss, but we're trying to do it in a way that's loving and compassionate, not in a way that marginalizes or demeans. To the extent that I have failed at this, I apologize and I promise to work harder.

Kate said...

I'm sure your loved ones are not irritated. Maybe frustrated - just like you are frustrated - at what is, after all, a mutual obstacle to conversation.

You do have a super-smart family, I'm sure you'll find a way together! (family ASL classes, perhaps? Knowing your family, you'd find a way to make that hilariously fun)

Lisa said...

"People" doesn't necessarily mean family, and irritation can be experienced without being acted upon.

After re-reading my post, I realized it seems depressing, when in actuality I was in an upbeat mood (believe it or not). I had just had one of the best conversations I have had in a while, and it felt good to not experience the "muted television" mode so completely for a change. The environment was favorable to communication.

The family has been exceptionally good about this, but those micro-second flashes of facial expressions aren't lost on me. Those sighs, deep breaths before raising your voice. I'm happy for all the efforts made to get through to me, but when you are on the receiving end of loud voices all the time (even though I can't hear the loudness, but I can see the straining), makes me continually aware of the requirements laid on everyone to communicate with me. It takes extra effort, and you can't hide that. This may be one of those things that gets better when it gets worse. Once the hearing is all gone, you won't have to raise your voice or repeat anything.

At this point I am very eager for a cochlear implant. The last six months have been a dramatic change--much more isolating than the previous twenty years of hearing loss. I can almost detect loss from week to week now. Complete deafness seems to be fast approaching.

I feel like I'm in a marathon race. The end is in sight, but I'm getting tired. The health care bill looms on the sidelines. Hopefully it won't cut me off from the finish line, but I feel it on each side, getting ready to narrow the path--so restricted that all the runners will not get through.

Well, enough time has been spent on this. John--no need to ask forgiveness. What I wrote was just an attempt to help people experience things from my viewpoint.