Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I'm sorry, I can't hear you.

I'm not trying to be funny with this or make light.
This is something that many people have to live with every single day.
It's about hearing loss.

I have been totally deaf in my left ear since childhood.
What got me thinking about this was when we were driving to Moncton the other day and I had my earphone in to listen to music on my BlackBerry while the boys watched a DVD and Cheryl rested.
Most already know this but in headphones stereo sound is split up between each ear. When I listen to music I only get half of it.

I can often very faintly hear the other half in the background but it sounds lousy.
If I want to hear what I'm missing I can switch the earpiece to hear but have to switch back.
For whatever reason there does not seem to exist anything to push all of the music out of both earpieces.

I haven't heard true stereo since before I lost my hearing as a child.(If it existed.) Although I doubt that I paid much attention to things like that back then.

From what I understand when I was 9 or so I had a bad ear infection or similar ailment. I think that we flew in a jet and the air pressure change made my ear pop much more than usual and my nerve was damaged beyond repair.
I don't recall any pain or even when it happened but when I lay in bed I noticed that outside sounds were eliminated when I lay on my right side.
I remember being in a booth at Sunnybrook Hospital with lights and buttons but only being allowed to push one of 2 buttons when I heard a sound in the earphones.
It's funny but about 30 years later I thought one day that with medical advancement and technology as it was a cure must have been found.

I booked an appointment to go back to Sunnybrook to see what was new.
I went back in that same booth with the buttons.
Then I was told there is nothing to fix my ear.

For those who have lost all of their hearing this way there is cochleal transplants which dramatically improve their hearing.
In fact, someone I work with had this procedure quite recently and he seems very happy with the result.
Unfortunately for only 1 ear this would not provide any benefit so it's not an option for me.
Hearing aids don't work for me. Not for total nerve loss.
Years ago there was a rumour that acupuncture may cure nerve deafness.
My mother bought me several treatments.
Not surprisingly, the acupuncture did absolutely nothing to affect my hearing.

This may sound strange but I consider myself lucky when compared to those who have completely lost or have never had the hearing in both ears.

I'm luckier but the problem is very real and very serious with me too.
When I was 16 years old I applied and was interviewed for a part time job in a grocery store in Toronto.
It was the Dominion store at Bayview and Cummer.
However, the head office was at the other end of the city on Rogers Road where the interviews were done.
I remember it took ages to get there by bus and subway but I wanted that job badly so I spent my entire afternoon for this process.
I completed the written tests without a problem.
Everything was going very well in the interview until I mentioned that I was deaf in my left ear.
I'm not certain exactly how they phrased it but they used a scenario of a falling box to tell me that they would not be hiring me due to my hearing loss.
They felt that if something was to fall and another tried to warn me I would be unable to hear and react in time to avoid being hurt.
Wow, that hurt. I was so sad as I returned home.
When I told my mother she immediately contacted a friend of ours who was in management at Dominion.
After some discussions and help from our friend it was eventually agreed that I would be perfect for the job despite my deafness.
And I was.
Nothing ever fell on me and the job was fine.

I wasn't so fortunate though when I applied to try and become a police officer with the Metropolitan Toronto Police.
I was flat out refused. No discussions.
Again the danger of my deafness was thrown at me.
This one made more sense.
If a bad dude tried to get the drop on me in a situation and approached from my left I would be unaware of his approach and would be at risk.
So I never pursued my dream of being a police officer.

One thing that many don't realize is that without hearing in both ears I have absolutely no sense of what direction sound comes from.
You could yell like mad at me but if I can't locate you visually I don't know what direction I am being called from.

This scares me very much.
What if someone is in serious trouble? Perhaps my kids need me and are calling for me to help?
That fear has kept me awake at night.

Just imagine being totally deaf and never hearing anything at all if you are being called for help.
From ANY direction.

How's that for a scary thought?

Can you hear me now?

I'm afraid not...

Stay Well,

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry


Cheryl said...

Thank you for sharing these challenges with us. None of us can truly understand or relate unless we are dealing with something similar ourselves. It is incredible the amount of ignorance in the world and koodos to your Mom for taking a stand on your behalf and righting some of the wrong of this world. They say that when one of our senses is not working as it should, than our others are heightened. Does this have some truth to it? I am curious to know?

The fear that you are living when it comes to your boys, I can fully understand as I have lived my own experiences and fear with my daughter who has learning difficulties. I have lived some very scary experiences and the fear sometimes can be debilitating. I have always tried to teach her that you should never back down or limit yourself even if others try to impose those limits on you. Often the limits others’ impose on us are based on their own fears and not ours. I have always told her that she is capable of anything if she sets her mind to it.

Some philosophers say that we are all exactly where we are supposed to be at this very moment so, if we don’t over think it too much and just “Be” than perhaps we can appreciate what paths we are all on.

I hear you Tim!


Rhonda Merkley Maccarone said...

There is nothing good about not hearing. I too have suffered from hearing loss most of my life. It sure does help you appreciate the hearing that you do have. I'm afraid that if you've never had a hearing loss it's much easier to take the gift of sound/hearing for granted. I told my daughter that if there is one business that's going to be booming in 40-50 years it's going to be audiology for sure. I don't know how half the kids today aren't already deaf. Well at least those kids who own ipods etc.