Several years ago I had a weird ear thing. It wasn’t painful. Just annoying as weird ear things often are. I felt like everything was underwater and sounded miles away. I defined that as weird. I called my doctor, went in, he placed a tuning fork on my head and asked me what I heard. To this day, I have no idea what he was trying to accomplish. Still, we figured out there was nothing physically abnormal going on as far a sinus or ear infection. I moved on and the problem went away. Kind of. It came back from time to time but knowing it would clear up after a few days I just moved on with my busy life.
About two years later I noticed the issue happening far more often. I complained to my husband about it all the time.
“You know, I don’t think this is normal.” He said.
“Yeah, it’s weird.”
“No, that’s not what I mean…” And he would give me that look which can only be described as, stop fucking around, you know damn well what I mean.
I called my ENT and started off with an audiogram.
As I would find out I have progressive hearing loss. There are many types but mine fits the genetic profile. He found it surprising no one else in my family is hard of hearing or deaf. Well, I was surprised to find out I’m losing my hearing. I guess it was just a day of surprises.
The weirdness, was pressure changes in my sinuses which can be caused by weather or illness. It’s a normal thing that happens to everyone but due to my low level of hearing I’m unable to compensate the pressure changes therefore – that underwater type hearing. The weirdness.
While the sound had turned off, the lights turned on. I suddenly became aware of how people were reacting to situations around me. I couldn’t hear things other people could. It was, sobering, to put it lightly. At one time I went out to dinner with out of state friends. We sat at a small table in a moderately busy restaurant. I sat in the middle, one friend on one side, one on the other. They talked back back and forth, as if ping ponging details of their travels and work stories over the past several years since I saw them last. I could only hear the one I was facing. It was a difficult moment because I realized it wasn’t just the noise around us. These two woman, on opposite sides of a table, furthest away from each other, where having a normal conversation and I was finding it difficult to follow along. Their mouths were moving but almost nothing was coming out unless I stared directly at the person talking and strained myself to pick up sounds or facial cues. I continued this for about a year, understanding more and more of my limitations I had been previously been ignorant of.
May is Better Hearing Month which I found out just by chance when another hard of hearing patient in the waiting room said loudly, “Hey! See that poster! It’s Better Hearing Month!” to her husband. The elderly couple held hands, her husband squeezed hers and responded, “Honey, you’re talking loud.”
Pretty sure I glimpsed into the future in that moment.
The reason I was at this appointment was to trial hearing aids which, being Better Hearing Month, seems accidentally appropriate. The experience of the trial was again, sobering. I had been weighing my options on if it was necessary. My hearing is just at the “recommended hearing aid” level and I do fine or okay in most situations. My husband and I are also learning ASL to help in situations where I’m doing less than “okay.” Yet I became obsessed with what I was missing and the weirdness. I’ll be honest, the moment the audiologist turned them on I was blown away by the sound of the audiologist’s voice. I had no idea how clear and crisp every sound of every letter of every word she spoke was suppose to be. I’ve been decoding mumbling this entire time apparently. I might owe my daughter a few apologizes on the mumbling thing.
Next week I get my permanent pair of hearing aids. I am just as excited as I am frightened to what this experience will be like outside of an office. I don’t know what sound will be like in my home, around my friends, or how terrible my singing really is when I’m driving by myself. We’ll adjust and adapt to my new hard of hearing life, while my hearing aids give me a second chance at hearing again and my husband continues to google how to say naughty words in ASL.
And while I can leave this post on this note, I’m not going to. There are more serious things in this brain dump I can’t ignore:
My half Mexican husband makes fun of me for my “taco salad.” And that’s bullshit.
It’s a good salad! Listen, we have so much goddamn left over food in our fridge from Cinco de Mayo I should be able to do my white thing and make something magical with it. Let’s break this down:
-Everyone loves Doritos
-Catalina dressing is a thing
I see no crimes here with mixing Mexican left overs with the above two items. It’s a salad. It tastes really good. Also, don’t Google home made Catalina dressing because it adds nothing of value to my argument of “taco salad” being a normal thing. Just trust me when I say it is.
To my readers, I love you and here is a recipe for “taco salad” because it’s amazing.
While you’re now eating taco salad, please visit the great people below for their Brain Dump.