Friday, May 04, 2007

'Ear Today, Gone Tomorrow.

By the time most people read this posting I'll be fast asleep on an operating table having surgery on my ear - the second stage in an operation that I first had exactly a year ago. When I wake up, however, I'll have had what I hope is the last operation on my ear for a long, long, long time. I'll also be done with the chronic infections that plagued my ear pretty much since 5th grade until last year, and as an added bonus will have drastically improved hearing, at least in the short term.

Though I wear a hearing aid, I don't really consider myself hearing impaired because my right ear works perfectly and I figure that's enough for the label not to apply to me. Nevertheless, whether I'm officially hearing impaired or not, the truth is that for the last fifteen years I have perfected the art of nodding with a smile pretending as if I heard the whole conversation I'm in the middle of having with the person standing across from me. I've gotten accustomed to quietly nudging my brother and saying "what?" when I'm in a group and don't hear someone talking and my brother is nearby. On the phone I'll speak much louder than most people unless I remind myself that not everyone has trouble hearing what I say. And if I can't hear what people are staying then I tend to just tune out, not necessarily the best habit to pick up for someone intereseted in politics. On the plus side I've also adapted to sleeping on my good ear, so I have no problem falling asleep in noisy situations. (Of course, that means that my alarm clock has to be set so loud that people sometimes mistake it for an air ride siren, most notably my college roommates.)

(On an unrelated note, if I had to pick hearing loss or eyesight loss as a condition that would effect me, I'd probably go with hearing loss. The main reason is that you can fall asleep wearing a hearing aid, but it seems like it's really annoying falling asleep wearing glasses or contacts in your eyes. If I had to choose between being profoundly deaf versus completely blind I would also go with the former option. Though both deaf individuals and blind individuals face social stigmatisms I think I appreciate the world more consistently through my sense of vision than through my sense of hearing.)

Anyway, I'll still have some hearing loss after tomorrow, but it will probably be nowhere near the severe loss that I now experience in my left ear. It's amazing what modern medical science can do. The thing I'm most curious about is what it will be like to reenter the world of hearing - where I'll hopefully be able to catch more of the sounds and voices that I've gotten used to just passing me by. But I guess I'll have to save what it feels like to hear better for a future posting, when and if I go from being hearing impaired to hearing mostly-un-impaired.

PS I'm not 100% sure how coherent what I just wrote is since I'm tired and I have to be up very soon. But I do like my subject heading.