The Silence Has Sound

Yesterday I sat in the coffee shop studying some of the social and behavioral determinants in public health while nibbling/stuffing my face with a dark chocolate brownie. The hum of the machines and those coming and going became more and more distracting. Adjusting, I pulled out my aids, plugged in my headphones, and began listening to music. But the words were tiring. Changed to classical. There, that would work.

When I was three years old I got my first pair of hearing aids, obviously the most adorable child ever to wear those tiny little instruments behind both years. At the same time I began school and started speech lessons that would continue for the next five years.

I never quite understood how people could "forget" to put hearing aids in or would lose them. Seriously, how do you forget that step in your morning routine? Heck, it's not even in the routine-it's before I get out from under the covers! I just never understood that. How do you forget the difference between silence and noise?

In the last few years my loss has progressed significantly. This means many things. Over time I will continue to lose more and will hear less and less. However, what this also means is that my ability to discriminate sounds is also deteriorating. That's something that outsiders don't really understand. Something may be extremely loud to me but I still can't "hear" it-- make sense of the sounds. It's incredibly frustrating and after a long day it's exhausting.

All of this has influences that permeate into life, in primarily social ways. Lately I've taken my time to put in my aids in the morning and take them out earlier in the evening, perhaps while reading before bed. The days beginning and ending with silence.

While listening to a Beethoven playlist I finally stopped. Turned it off. And didn't put my aids back in. I couldn't even put them in and leave them off. Because even the silence has sounds.

So I kept them out. I've never done that before- taken out my aids by choice (except for swimming, showering, or anything else that would ruin them- but even in those situations I was never eager to do so because let's face it- you'll miss out.).

For a brief moment- an escape from the turning your head to follow each person; distinguishing voices of friends talking over the television; wondering if they've called my order number yet. A break.

It was wonderful. And it was quiet.

I've always been afraid of the day that I will wake up and not hear anything. Of the day when my speech will give it away- she's deaf- they'll know immediately.
 Of the day when I won't hear my favorite sounds:

  • cellos, acoustic guitars, pianos, blue grass
  • deep south acapella singing
  • the hollow thud-click of tires driving over the sewer cap
  • deep, pure, and calming male voices
  • giggles from little kids *especially the "Aunt Jeeeeeesssss!" or "Miss Jessssss"
  • the congested voices of teary friends and family
  • the whir of an airplane propeller starting up
  • the crisp buzz of a swim strobe
  • the deep roar of thunder
  • the crunching of fall leaves under my feet
If I can play those sounds back right now as I recall them, maybe it'll be okay. One day, the silence will still have sound.


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