I love the silence of my laptop, the words on the page are soothing because they can be read and don’t have to be spoken aloud. I hear them in my head. Their dialogue is crisp and clear. I don’t have to strain forward to get their inflection.
Gradual hearing loss is sneaky. It creeps up on you without warning. It starts when you turn up the volume a bit on the television or find yourself sitting in the first row of a classroom so your notes are complete.
Mine did not develop because of a stint in a rock band, or as ground crew in an airport, or through operation of a jackhammer. I’ve always worked in offices…quiet ones. It was the reaction of others that told me something was wrong.
I see frustration when whole sentences have to be repeated. I’ve learned to move closer, face the lips forming the words, to concentrate on what the person is saying.
Angry words followed by a shrug of impatience often follow my inaccurate response—especially in group settings—a response born of straining to hear. Yet the angry words, “she can’t hear you,” are plainly spoken in a louder voice and the stings are like pinpricks to my soul because I want to hear, I want to respond, I want to live without the hurt feelings.
And yet I find myself doing it to others who have hearing loss. I tend to speak louder, and slower, when repeating a sentence. And I’ve been guilty of the same impatience I deplore in others.
Hearing loss is a disability. There is a fix, but for most the cost is prohibitive.
So I will disappear into my silent world, a laptop or a book my solace, a non-judgmental world where I do not have to listen or speak or respond.
I can just be.