Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Here We Come A-wassailing...

Tonight, the elementary school where I teach had a Christmas caroling event that I was planning to attend. It would have been the first time for me to carol since I lost my hearing suddenly three years ago. 

I didn’t go. Seriously, I could come up with a million reasons why I didn’t go, but the only excuse I have is that I chickened out.

I’m afraid of music. It’s true. It terrifies me. If this had been a dinner or a play or a discussion of the complexities of the Pythagorean theorem, it would have been much easier. But it was music and singing. And that is much, much scarier.

Oh no! It's MUSIC!

I’m considered a high-functioning cochlear implant recipient. I hear and comprehend speech and conversation very well in most settings. But music eludes me. It’s my bĂȘte noire – the beast I have yet to conquer. I have focused on music rehabilitation for the last year, attempting to make my cochlear implant work for hearing music. I haven’t been able to find a way past the distorted static of noise to find a melody or harmony or instrumentals -- or much of anything musical at all. I complain to my audiologist and she patiently adjusts my programming in ways I cannot comprehend – little tweaks that might help. But she tells me that many of her patients complain that music is elusive to them as well.

We’re limited by the technology. And by our hearing loss.

When a person loses their hearing, many other things are lost along the way. It’s difficult to describe the impact that hearing loss has on our lives to those who’ve never experienced it. One of the things I was warned to watch for is the withdrawal from things I once enjoyed. That didn’t happen for me as suddenly as I lost my hearing, but I slowly became aware that I turned down invitations to events I once participated in gladly, preferring instead the quiet and solitude of activities I could do without the necessity of a working ear.

There was a day when I would have loved caroling with friends and colleagues. But not today.

So I sit here on my living room sofa trying to rationalize my guilt away. I know I succumbed to my fear of music and pitchy melodies and harmonies too far out of my decibel range to hear. And I stayed home. My self-speak chastises me with “should haves” and “could haves.” I should have shrugged off my fears and insecurities and gone caroling anyway. I could have tried. I should have endured. I could have taken my cochlear implant off, shutting off the “noise” of the songs, and smiled my way through the silence. But I didn’t. I'm a coward.

Music is a very, very, scary thing.

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