I’m Being Deafly Serious
Background information for anyone who’s wondering. I’ve officially been ‘deaf’ for 3 years, finding out after a heinous employer was becoming increasingly frustrated with me for not hearing her. And I beat myself up, because this was a regular occurrence throughout my life. I mean I could hear her? Couldn’t I? I just couldn’t quite make it out, so I let it go. As I had so many times in my life, trained myself to let that shadow of a sound fall out of my eyesight as it was not worth the effort of chasing the problem.
I believe my mind trained itself to tune out whenever there was ‘shadow noise’. So when in groups, or classrooms, or offices my brain would go into autopilot has it had so regularly done because I would never catch anything that was going on. Often looking at people with a really dumb smile agreeing with whatever they had said, only to realise they had said nothing to agree with.
The point I’m making is that ultimately it affected my confidence. Subconsciously at least, especially throughout university and high school. I felt I wasn’t getting much out of lessons, although I knew I was learning from what they had to say. What was the missing link? And each time I would go back and back again to the same thought process: attention issues, shadow noise. Don’t look directly at the problem.
In literature, they call this ‘slipstream’. You see something in your sight but you choose to not acknowledge it because it’s a problem you can’t deal with (homeless people are a good example of this). So although I felt there could be a problem I would talk myself out of it “the earphones are probably broken, you’re tired and you’re imagining it, the television is so quiet, I’ve always liked things a bit louder. It’s just a preference.” Is it a preference Ben, is it, it it really!?
I was never bad enough to need to read lips. And I’m jealous that people can. I’ve never felt smart enough to learn to sign language, and even if I did learn I know very few people who know it so it would just mean making new deaf friends. What’s wrong with the ones I have now I ask? And besides all these points my hearing isn’t terrible. If it was a tank of gas it would be just under half empty. It would get you far but maybe not all the way you wanted it to.
So just after my thirtieth I finally took the plunge to get them checked. The doctor said I had twisty ear canals (that’s a thing apparently).
More background information: When I was 18 I went swimming and some kid dropped his goggles at the bottom of a deep pool. I dived fairly deep to fetch them for him but as I came out of the water I went totally and utterly deaf. If we still want to use the gas tank analogy here, the warning light just came on and you’re caught in heavy traffic on the commute to work. It was pretty bad. People yelled at me and I could not hear them at all. I was that way for 2 weeks until they syringed my ears. And syringing sounds a lot worse than it actually is. So when I didn’t think I was deaf it’s because for 2 weeks I had experienced a whole other level of what it was to be deaf. It wasn’t all stubbornness.
Anyway the doctor told me to get have my ears tested. They sat me in a medical phone both while the sound of wind blew while different pitches of beeps played in my ears. It was quickly apparent my right ear was shit.
MRI scan time. My heart goes out to anyone who has ever had one. If ever I experienced anything close to an alien abduction it’s an MRI scan. The noise and claustrophobic experience of it all was harrowing. Think a coffin with bright white lights while someone plays Bomb sirens: the musical in your ears.
Results weren’t great. It came down to my right ear being below average and my left being just about average. It’s a strange feeling receiving results to confirm what you already know. One on hand you now know that the cause of your hearing loss is not twisted ear canals, water in your ears, wax, but a real medical condition.
I should mention what the cause of the loss is. Those who know me, and even those that don’t tend to go to the obvious reason: music. Well curses on all of you, you’re all wrong.
No, my hearing didn’t leave me because I was standing too close to the amps at gigs, and yes, I always had my music on loud but it wasn’t what led to my loss. It was in fact just a shit genetic problem. I apparently was given a bad hand, and I’m not talking about that third thumb I was born with (whole other blog post there.) Apparently, the nerves that connect from my ears to my brain started to deteriorate, as commonly seen in old people. And before you say it, knock it off, I’m only 33 *crawls into fetus position and enters existential dread*
Life is only ever seen through the viewpoint of oneself. With this in mind I tend not to be too tough on myself for not noticing it sooner. How would I know that my hearing was bad if that hearing was all I ever knew? Perhaps it was always as bad as it was but somehow I slipstreamed, leaving the shadows in the light rather than casting them back into the dark. Perhaps there’s more I’m not seeing now that I’m blocking out. I’m not sure if I’ll ever will see it, but I know I’ll be listening out for it.