Music has always played a huge part in my life. My father was a professional drummer, my mother played organ and sang. At age three I was sitting on my father’s lap behind a drum kit banging away. By age twelve I was playing guitar and bass and writing my own music. The lyric writing came about a year later. I was much better and more expressive with words. I suppose that turned out to be the major reason I became a journalist. Ask anyone, I’m much better on the written page than speaking freely. God bless e-mails and the internet. In my own defense, I’m no slouch in that area however. I can talk up a blue streak when the mood strikes me or a topic comes up that I’m passionate about. When I was diagnosed a few years ago with hearing loss it was a major blow to my psyche. I could never imagine not hearing music never mind sound in general. I was told my loss was a bit different. Whereas many people lose the higher frequency tones I was losing the lower pitch. There is probably medical terminology for this but it escapes me at the moment. At times I do experience ringing in my ears. It’s not a constant thing so I’m sure there is also a bit of Tinnitus thrown in there for good measure. It is painful at times but more than not just a nuance. I suppose this all comes from years spent with headphones taped to my ears, listening to loud rock music and going to concerts. I also suffer from Migraine headaches. When those babies kick in sound and light become enemy number one. Anyone who suffers from these or knows someone who does can relate to how devastating the pain is. Chopping off ones head is actually appealing at those moments when you’re laying in a dark silent room. Your head feels like a jackhammer is slamming into your brain and your ears feel like their going to start to bleed if someone drops a pin on the floor. Can’t forget the light aspect. I have become a vampire. I will only come out at night when these little ditties hit. Actually when it’s in full swing, I don’t go anywhere except to bed and under the covers. It’s quite an experience I assure you.
With all of these wonderful attributes being addressed what I’d like to tell you are the things I’m missing the most. I still have a good portion of my hearing but it seems to diminish more and more with every passing day. Some days are better than others. Lately I’ve found myself leaning into people when they speak to make sure I can hear everything they say, sometimes I also find myself reading their lips. Should anyone mumble or speak quietly there is always that infamous moment when I inevitably must say, “Excuse me, what did you say?” Thankfully the annoying looks I’ve been known to receive are still few and far between. I’m not sure if it’s more acceptable to be older or my age, forty-six, when this sense starts to falter in regards to other people’s reaction. I know it’s more common and expected from an older person. After all, we’ve all grown up thinking once you hit forty it’s all downhill from there. It seems over the past few years this way of looking at age has changed; forty has become the new sixty or seventy. After all, cougars are in nowadays and considered very sexy. At least I have that going for me.How does one compensate for one of the five senses deciding it’s tired of working or needs a vacation? I turn up the television to a ridiculous level, turn up my music to the point that my neighbors can hear it better than I can through the walls, and go to movie theaters with surround sound. Yeah, that all works just great, doesn’t it? Sometimes I actually try to work on my level of hearing by turning things down rationalizing that straining to hear might actually make my deficit stronger. Maybe I can get back what I’ve lost? I don’t know how realistic that is. I haven’t consulted an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist in a while. I guess I’m afraid to go for another test – only to find out how much more levels I’ve lost.
In any case getting back to what I miss the most is normal level conversation. I’m afraid I’ll miss it when someone says, “I love you.” I make sure I hear that one loud and clear even if I ask for it to be repeated. For someone who has been surrounded by music since I was a young child on many different levels it’s like being told there isn’t a Santa Claus. It’s something you can never have again; that innocence and wonder of it all. Sure there are hearing aids which I’m sure I will be utilizing one day, maybe even surgery will be a possibility. Until that time comes, I will continue to turn up The Beatles and Elton John. I will sing louder when my favorite song comes on the radio (my apologies those people who happen to be around at those particular times) and I will continue to lean in when someone is speaking to make sure I don’t miss a single word spoken. You may be asking yourself why and what is the purpose of me putting this down on paper and sharing it with you? Honestly I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a way of relating to other people and experiences or just as simple as knowing I’m not alone or the only one in the world who feels the same way.