Say Again . . . ?

Losing my hearing is strange. I thought sounds would just grow fainter by stages until everything was silent, or that I’d fail to pinpoint the direction of a sound if one ear lost hearing faster than the other. Turns out, there is an entire host of other challenges.

A high-pitched squeal in both ears keeps me awake, makes it difficult to concentrate, and never, ever goes away. I turn the TV too loud. I miss entire conversations in noisy restaurants. Conversely, sound bouncing off walls in a movie theater or concert hall seems deafeningly loud.

Words become garbled. What I hear is word salad. People talk too fast. They lose patience with me over the phone because evidently I ask them to repeat themselves too often. I request that they spell even simple names because of “static” on the line. My spouse accuses me of not paying attention, when really what I’m trying to do is make out what I just heard. It’s an entirely unpleasant and complicated business.

I now tend to ignore the mishmash and jumble of sounds until it is repeated louder, in a form that is intelligible. I’m going to assume there is at least one other person in the world who does the same thing.


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