Can You Hear Me Now?

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.


3 thoughts on “Can You Hear Me Now?”

  1. First let me say I am so sorry for your hearing loss. As you know I too have become hearing impaired and I can feel your pain and your frustration. I am one of the lucky ones who can afford hearing aids, but have discovered they only make sounds louder. They do not help me comprehend the words I no longer hear. You captured perfectly how it feels to loose one’s hearing, the uncomfortable pauses when your reply is not appropriate, or you repeat what has just been said. I too have begun to withdraw into myself and find I no longer enjoy things that use to fill me with joy, such as music, and parties and simply having long conversations with loved ones. Even the one person who promised to love me for better or worse and in sickness and in health, get frustrated with me when I misunderstand or have to have him repeat something to me not once or twice, but three or four times. The inflection in his voice as he speaks louder for me seems to hold just a little anger. But on the bright side, everything else about me is working just fine, and I am learning to read lips so watch out. I may not be able to hear you but I can read you just fine.

  2. This is a very poignant, haunting post, Pam…somehow you managed to immerse the reader (or, at least this reader) in silence through language and cadence.

    Your hearing loss is a painful experience, I’m sure, but so vividly presented, I have to admire it.

    I’m one who has sought silence all my life, and while I don’t at all envy you the difficulties of living in an increasingly hearing-dependent world, I have to say I’ve found much expansive magic in silence. I hope you do, too.


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