Friday, 21 September 2018

Still not deaf enough...

Deafness: Rise and Fall...

Image result for hand cupped to ear
The Rise And Hopefully The End Of Hearing Loss Listening to your music is fun! But, you know what's not fun? Losing your hearing! 

It is no secret that our generation is blasting loud music right through our headphones. I am guilty of this as well. There is something liberating in escaping through the music. 

You dance to the rhythm as if you are in your own world and that nothing can stop you. But, then you take your headphones off and suddenly, you hear an "EEEEEEEEEEEEE" sound. That's tinnitus. Tinnitus is when you hear a ringing sound throughout your whole life. Sometimes, it's not a ringing sound. Sometimes, it can be crickets, buzzing, whistling, and much more. You might even hear the music. 

Sometimes, tinnitus can occur due to vitamin deficiencies or sensory issues. Personally, I suffer from sound sensitivity all throughout my life and therefore, I have tinnitus. However, it is no doubt that tinnitus can occur from exposure to loud sounds. Once your ears have been exposed to loud sounds, your hair cells become dead forever. In order to cope with that, your brain develops a ringing sound. I know my tinnitus worsened when I was in Drum Corps during my high school career. I wasn't bothered by the loud beat of the drums until I experienced sudden hearing loss every time a parade ended. 

Things escalated when I got my first iPhone at 17. Whoo boy. Since I was a sheltered high schooler, you bet that I would escape through music. I'm sure you felt that way in high school, too. Now, I have a tinnitus that is way worse and I'm paying the consequences for it. From now on, I always play music in low volume. If I play anything other than that, I would make my ears sting. But, nobody's doing the same thing that I'm doing. 

Every time I walk past somebody with blaring their music out loud, I worry for their ears Scientists stated that loud music doesn't necessarily correlate to hearing loss. In addition, the hearing loss for teens is going steady. But, reports already stated that a quarter of American adults are suffering from hearing loss. Therefore, while teens may not have a hearing loss now, they may get it in their adulthood. What's even worrisome is that once you're hard of hearing, you need a hearing aid or a cochlear implant which is something insurance won't even cover. 

Things get even more expensive when you become deaf and suddenly, you need to take ASL classes as well as an interpreter. Hearing loss is scary. You won't be able to hear your loved one's voice. You won't be able to listen to your favorite songs. You won't be able to hear the sounds around you. You are stuck in an ocean of silence or rather, auditory hallucinations ought to get you.

I pretended I was still hearing...

hearing loss memoir author Bella Bathurst sits by a window wearing a black sweater and peach scarf
Along with millions of other UK Hard of Hearing people.  For those who still insist being deaf is great and even a right, a touch of realism.

I Pretended I Could Still Hear I tried my best to ignore the problem and pretend I could still understand what others were saying.  But navigating the world without sound was incredibly stressful, sad and alienating.

By summer, it had become clear that there was something wrong with my hearing. It didn’t happen suddenly — it wasn’t like one week it was 20/20 and the next week it was down to 15/20 or 10/20 — but softly, so softly I almost wasn’t aware of it happening; sound seemed to have stolen away. There was no pain, no sound of sound retreating, just the gradual understanding that something was less. In January, I’d been able to hear the traffic outside in the street. 

By March, I could hear a few auditory exclamation marks — the bang of a door slamming, the blare of a horn — but not the noises that linked them. Noises that had been vivid seemed muffled; sentences that were once bordered by clear lines were now smoothed to a blur. Without the definition to speech — the sibilants, the corners and turns, the verbal signposts — I couldn’t seem to find my way. Meetings became no more than a low seaside roar, and I kept connecting with the wrong end of a sentence. Things that had once been so easy to navigate were now full of blunders.

For a while I did what any other sensible, evolved adult would do — I ignored the problem. When that was no longer an option, I made an appointment with my GP, who referred me to the audiology department at the local hospital. Guessing games It did not take me long to adjust to being deaf. Or rather, it did not take me long to realize that I really didn’t want to be deaf, and that — faced with a choice over whether to go gracefully or to yank the building down around my fading ears — I was going to give it everything I’d got. 

Metaphorically speaking. On the outside, I did my best to sound as if everything was fine. But inside, I was hurling myself around the bars of my self-made cell from dawn until dusk, trying to claw my way toward the invisible adversary who I believed had somehow made me deaf in the first place. If this was a kind of bereavement and bereavement was supposed to have four stages, then forget all that stuff about submission and acceptance. I planned to stick right here on fear and denial with maybe a bit of cosmic plea-bargaining.