We have a “fix me” epidemic in this society. The old saying “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” no longer applies. Instead we are looking for problems to fix, looking for ways to come to perfection. There is a catch; perfection is in the eye of the beholder.
Walk through any gallery and strike up a conversation about any given work of art. Chances are the two people will not agree. Yet we as a society have a so-called “common view” of what perfection is. Perfection is a tall, skinny person, with aesthetic features, good sight, good hearing, good health. No sicknesses or disabilities.
Ignoring the fact that this aesthetic person will be different for each individual, although most will agree with magazine’s “most beautiful” sections, this description is but a small portion of our society. Yet, we all want to fix anything else: obesity, paralysis, blindness, deafness, anything not normal. We want to fix too much.
On the outside, on the aesthetic realm, I am told I meet “perfection.” Humble as I am people say that I am thin and good-looking. I, on the other hand, notice the 20 pounds I’ve put on since college, the cellulite on my thighs, and the old lady’s nose on my face. Still I meet some sort of mold. Until what is not instantly visible is identified. In one ear I have a purple hearing aid mold attached to a clear mechanical shell, on the other I have a small beige in-the-ear hearing aid. I am Hard of Hearing. Not hearing impaired. I have a disability, not a handicap. And unlike the current epidemic I don’t want to be fixed.
Give me hearing aids, I accept those, keep the knives and needles at bay. I am Hard of Hearing, just like I am a woman, just like I am Jewish. It is part of my identity; it is part of who I am. To “fix it” robs me of being me.
There are a lot of surgeries out there to correct hearing. I’ve had one on my right ear. I was eight; I thought I was making my left ear better. The surgery failed and took my right ear from moderate, to profound. Granted, the loss was not overnight, but the surgery did weaken the ear enough to cause future damage. Yet in some ways I am happy I’ve had the surgery. Unlike most people I have one less bone in my body. The incus, the second smallest bone in the body, is sitting in my living room, glued onto a piece of paper mapping where it used to be in my ear. Luckily no one has yet to suggest that I put the bone back in.
It took me many years, but I am happy with who I am. On the inside. On the outside I’d still like to return those 20 pounds back to the refrigerator. Yet people still ask me if I can get surgery to improve my hearing. The key word here is “can,” they assume I want to be fixed. Luckily there is no surgery out there that works for me. The controversial cochlear implant is for someone with far less hearing than me (my left ear, sans its hearing aid, is still listening to hum of the air conditioner in the background) and I don’t see ENT doctors frequently enough to have to field off any mentions of surgery.
Don’t get me wrong; some people want to be fixed. And if they want it then they should be fixed. I have a friend who recently got a cochlear implant and is thrilled. I couldn’t be happier for her. What bothers me is a story I saw on the news. I missed most of the story, and the captioning was scrambled, but apparently some family flew to Massachusetts to have their baby implanted. My view is against the implant but I don’t doubt the family their decision and this may very well be the right choice for them. But I can’t help but feel like the spotted eagle. I can’t help but feel like me and my kind are going to be extinct.
Perfection has its drawbacks. If we can’t accept someone in a wheel chair, walking with a cane, talking with their hands, then how are we supposed to accept one another? How are we supposed to move forward as an open-minded society? The more we fix the more problems we will face. Soon we will back to fixing religion and skin color. It’s only a matter of time before the wheel spins full circle.
When people meet me and find out I have hearing loss they feel bad for me. Yet my ears have got me where I am today. My first post-college job was directly related to my hearing loss, and I worked with clients with a hearing loss. That lead me to move into elder services since so many have a hearing loss. I can relate to others with a hearing loss on a one-on-one basis. So don’t feel bad for me. I am proud of my ears, even the left one that just decided to kick into tintinitus at this moment (we’ll duke it out later).
This brings me back to the “fix me” epidemic. Doctors take one look at me and they want to find a cure for my ears. We are so concentrated on fixing things to our own vision of perfection that we don’t take the time to pause, step back, and see what that person wants. Maybe the lady in the corner with the big nose likes her nose? Maybe the gentleman in the wheelchair is proud of his accomplishments? Maybe the obese woman enjoys being cuddly? And maybe this author enjoys the fact that her ears are less than perfect? Maybe we all need to find out own realm of “less then perfect”. I can assure you that it is a lot better than mere perfection itself.