A year after my surgery (click here for the story) an event occurred that changed my hearing permanently.
It was the first day of third grade. A nice, warm, sunny day. At recess I ran around with my friends, being a normal, typical, kid. For reasons I don’t remember, I stopped short and turned my head. A friend was right behind me and we collided, her nose pushed my hearing aid into my ear. I don’t remember pain, however the force of the impact caused my ear to bleed.
Needless to say, I ended up at the nurse’s office. She called my mom and sent me back to class. I walked down the squeaky clean and empty corridor to my classroom and drip, drip, drip. Tiny drops of blood landed on the off-white linoleum from my ear. Now, I was a bit of a goody-two-shoes. I tilted my head, to keep the blood inside (remember, I was a third grader) and walked the rest of the way to my classroom, head cocked, to ask if I could go back to the nurse’s office.
Of course, I was given permission. My mom was called and took me home. I don’t know if I went to my primary doctor or my ENT right away. What I do know is the next time my hearing was tested my hearing had gone down.
Way down, but I didn’t know this at the time.
My hearing was tested every six months at that point, as the doctors tried to establish if the change in hearing would continue. It didn’t. That surgery? Null and void. My right ear was now worse than when I was born.
Again, no one talked numbers to me. I only knew my right ear had gotten worse. My hearing aids were adjusted, my tinnitus continued. I can’t stress enough how normal everything was to me. This was me, this was my ear. Maybe more was explained and I just didn’t care. Because this was me, this was my ear. It wasn’t changing and I never for one minute believed it would change to become more hearing. My left ear was the good ear. I listened with my left. End of story.
I was nineteen when I finally began to understand all that had happened to my hearing. This wasn’t a small change. Yet it didn’t matter. Sometimes a number on a chart is just a number.
In retrospect would I opt for the surgery again? I don’t know. The surgery wasn’t necessary. It didn’t help my hearing. And more importantly: I didn’t want my hearing fixed, not at that point in my life. What the surgery has done for me is taught me about hearing loss. The changes in my right ear (yes, there’s more to come) have allowed me to understand loss. Without the surgery, I would have been someone with a mild/moderate hearing loss. It wouldn’t have affected me as much as it does today.
Furthermore I wouldn’t be able to relate to others the same way, as my hearing would have been stable from birth to now. The bumps along the road, in regards to my hearing loss, have been an incredible learning tool for me. While I have, at some points in my life, wished to be hearing, the vast majority I’ve spent enjoying myself. As is.