I was aswake last night. Aswake, you know that feeling when you’re mostly asleep but have your ears on red alert waiting to intercept the screams before they wake the rest of the house.
I’m not sure how many times I woke with a jump, sure I had heard a scream for dad or mama. I jumped out of bed at least three times to check – maybe more than that but I can’t remember.
The Husbo is back at work after a four month parental leave (thanks Canada.) I wanted to show him that despite my physical limitations due to prolapse that I could cut it. Buuuut he ended up intercepting a cry for help that I simply couldn’t hear. At 4am, when he had to work at 6, he changed a diaper and laid down in bed to comfort a tiny body, curled up like a chickpea next to his.
If my kids need me they will call for me. It’s hit and miss if I’ll come running when they need me because I can’t hear them. Sometimes I’m sure I hear them but it’s just some other sound, distorted by the ringing and roaring in my “bad” ear.
I’m deaf. I hate saying that because I feel like an imposter, I’m not 100% deaf. One ear phoned it in and my hearing fucked off.
A couple years ago I suddenly and unexpectedly (for no reason whatsoever) I lost almost all hearing in my left ear and gained a bunch of ringing. Two years on and I’ve gone from being able to understand about 80% of what people are saying to around 20%.
It’s called bilateral deafness.
It’s called being unable to hear your children and avoiding social events.
I can’t read lips, though some people will talk to me like I can. It’s annoying. It’s exhausting to strain to hear what someone is saying at a party, in a restaurant, or sitting beside me in a car.
I’ve stopped accepting invitations to social events because I mostly watch the crowd and try not to talk to people. I even avoid eye contact because it is so.damn.tiring having to ask for the fourth time “I’m sorry, I can’t hear what you said” while straining to hear and understand and follow a conversation.
I get into a lot of fights with Mister Uterus because my ear won’t hear his words quite right and my brain will interpret them incorrectly. I mishear, get fired up, and give the gift of life to the words “oh go fuck yourself.” He has, for the most part, stopped getting angry when he talks to me from another room and I don’t respond because he thinks I’m ignoring him. He’s never really sure what I’m able to hear. And, to be honest, neither am I.
For some people it’s the pitch of their voice that’s hard for me to hear. A lovely friend of mine is from Japan. Her accent poses no problem for me whatsoever but, for some reason, my ears can’t hear her voice even in a quiet room when she’s looking right at me. For other people, it’s their habit of looking away or down during a conversation.
It all ends at the same place: I respond with “oh yea.” Because I’m in a country of one where I don’t understand the foreigners and a response, even one that doesn’t fit the conversation, is better than nothing.
The co-operative playgroup starts in a few weeks. I dread it. Every week. Sunday night I check my calendar to see if it’s my week to bring a snack. And I’m relieved when it isn’t because that means I can skip it without feeling too guilty.
The playgroup is great, the families that attend are warm and loving, the children gel with each other. But it’s in a space with hard plaster walls and linoleum floors.
Voices, muddled with children’s shrieks and laughter, bounce off every surface and my ears struggle to keep up. I do my best to avoid talking to other parents, which makes me feel like an asshole because these are great people. And I can’t leave my kid in one room while I chat in another because I can’t hear him.
I know what your next question is.
“Why don’t you get a hearing aid?”
I went in to see if I could be fitted for a hearing aid. I have a special kind of hearing loss that isn’t just gone but also distorted. For a hearing aid to be loud enough to help me it’s painful. Ringing/roaring + loud noises = ouch.
But there is another option and I found out about it at my appointment last week.
“I can give you a better sound experience,” said the audiologist with a grin.
She tied an external demo of a device (called a Bone Bridge) around my head and whispered “can you hear me now?”
And, holy shit, I could hear her. She sat, smiling, behind me and talked, thrilled with the ability to help someone hear again. I could hear her without looking at her. I could hear a sneeze from down the hallway through a closed door. Amazing.
This means I’ll get to have two surgeries – one for my lady parts and one on my head for the Bone Bridge. I’m getting a new body one bit at a time. Next it’ll be hips and knees haha.
Until then, if you get an “uh huh” from me in a conversation assume I didn’t hear you. You’ll have to speak louder. I’m deaf.