Sunday, July 20, 2014

I Can Hear the Sea

The roar of the ocean is a mighty thing.
The rumble of the waves as they gather their strength
To crash upon the shore,
Thundering fiercely, then ebbing away,
Only to repeat itself again and again.
It's mesmerizing to watch,
But better to hear.

I can hear the sea.

There are so many things I no longer hear. My Borg parts help me get some of that back, but much is still lost to indiscernible noise clutter. I find myself relying on those near me for help far more often than I'd like. While passing through customs, I had to repeatedly ask the agent to repeat herself. She was sitting in a glass cubicle with only a slit of space for her voice to come through. Other agents and travelers were talking, as well, and the noisy drone of a busy airport engulfed my ears, blurring the line between hearing and listening. It made hearing, let alone understanding my agent a huge undertaking, if not a near impossibility. I finally looked at my husband with that all-too-familiar look of exasperation, and cried to him for help. "I have no idea what she said! I can't hear anything in this place!" It happened again in a restaurant. And again on a tour of the island. And again while trying to get a pool towel. I never know when I'll find myself staring blankly and uttering those dreaded words, "I'm sorry. What did you say?"

Since losing my hearing, I've found myself withdrawing from conversations and situations where I might find myself in potentially frustrating and embarrassing positions -- declining invitations to go to parties and events, busying myself with reading or online pursuits, letting others order for me at restaurants, waiting for them to speak for me - or instead of me... I've heard it's a common side effect of hearing loss. I'd promised myself I wouldn't let that happen; that I'd rise above the temptation to do that. But truth be told, avoidance is just easier.

So I retreated for a few days of my vacation to a chaise lounge by the beach with my nose in my Nook and the audio narration in my CI processor. For all intents and purposes, I appeared fully occupied and unapproachable. But I listened. No, I strained to hear.

And there it was. The sea -- the waves, the breeze, the gulls, the music from the beach bar, the voices of people near -- and far. And the annoying buzz of the paraglider that jolted me from my thoughts and reminded me that I can indeed hear. Not always so well, but sometimes just well enough to surprise myself at how good it can be with this cochlear implant. And how bad it would be without it.

The ocean is healing and rejuvenating and forgiving.

I can hear the sea. And I never, ever have to ask it to repeat itself. That's a very good thing.

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