There are so many things one never even thinks about until they are gone. Hearing loss seeps into every facet of your life. Places you didn't even know existed -- until your hearing loss reveals them.
A friend recently had her cochlear implant activated. She's in her 80's. Family and friends who encouraged her to get the implant worry that she will have a hard time adjusting to it. "She's 84, you know," they say. She lives alone and, like her family, she fears that being unable to hear has affected her independence, her safety, and her well-being.
I have written before of the irrational fear that creeps in when I am alone in my house. Being unable to hear a simple knock on the door or identify a strange, muffled sound can be unnerving --how opening a dishwasher while it is running or turning the key again when the car is already on or not knowing that your smoke alarm is chirping or that your alarm clock is buzzing or that you've accidentally left a radio on, answering questions wrongly, missing conversations, and telephone calls -- even walking "blissfully unaware" in a crowd of people who've repeatedly tried to excuse themselves to walk past you and consider you rude -- all of the things that have become embarrassingly routine for you because you cannot hear them anymore. I told her son-in-law to keep encouraging her as she enters this new phase of hearing -- mostly because I know how important hearing independence can be. And I know that even if she never perceives speech, she will most certainly perceive environmental sounds. And that alone will bring her relief.
"I never thought of it like that," a friend who was listening nearby remarked. "Like how just hearing all the things in your home can make you feel secure. But I can see that now. That's quite a revelation for me."
A revelation. Yes. Constant revelations -- constantly.
That's a perfect analogy of what living with hearing loss is like.