Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hey Aram

post surgery December 1988
photo by: my Dad



Hey Aram! Glad to 'hear' that your brain tumor doesn't 'sound' like it will be 'silencing' you anytime soon! When I was 15 I was diagnosed with a congenital cholesteatoma after 6 months of misdiagnoses. After two surgeries I've had near complete hearing loss in my left ear. Since I was 15. Get used to the 'what?' jokes! I've heard them so many times I have probably said 'I've never heard that before' 10,000 times! The first year or two of hearing loss was tough- anytime there is any background noise you could pretty much rule out any conversation- it really is every third or so word I would hear. Plus, being a kid I was afraid to just come out and say 'would you mind standing on my right? I can't hear out of my left ear.' An early experience was walking through the woods near my house and hearing what sounded like an owl. I eventually spun a complete 360 because every time it would hoot it was on my right!

On two occasions my hearing issues may have cost me some action- once walking on the beach with a girl who was my brother's girlfriends friend. Just the two of us... a stunning sunset....a beach to ourselves... and her on the ocean side. Waves pounding. Me walking there wishing I could here anything she was saying, nodding blankly, but only hearing the pounding of November waves and her mumbling noises. What deep secrets did I miss? Confessions of love? Hints of romance?

The second time I was working the slime line in Alaska when I was put beside the hotty of the cannery. This Canadian beauty we all talked about around lunch and later during beers- for some reason, of which I'll never know, had taken a mild interest in me. My disbelief in this precluded any chance of witty comebacks or confident facial expressions. Instead I would respond with three word answers and eager wide eyed stares at the cement floor to her jokes and questions. This would inspire actual sincere anger in my best friend at the time whom I worked with and would witness my bumbling. One day at work the boss put me beside her on the line. I walked over and her eyes lit up and she smiled big and said "Hi Seth!" The slime line is very close quarters and we were even bumping shoulders on occasion as we cut into the salmon. She began chatting up a storm and to my terror I could maybe pick up every fifth word. She's standing on my left- in front of me is a trough of loud running water and on my right is a large and loud machine called a guillotine which makes a non-stop racket. I didn't stand a chance. She was trying to tell me about her college life in Bellingham and her family and friends. I was curious like crazy but couldn't even hear enough to formulate some sort of follow up questions to express interest. A few weeks later she left AK and I never saw her again. The memories are vivid though!

I think I've gotten better with 22 years of practice- I still say 'what's that?' all the time but maybe a combination of reading lips and being more forward with my hearing loss has helped. But back then forget it- I was helpless!

4 comments:

Me said...

Isaac looked the same way after his surgeries. He even had the same type of headdress with the big poofy ear.

Annie said...

If I haven't already told you, I was a pirate as a child (and had head gear). I still only have one good eye, but wear my eye patch a lot less. You should start a drinking-centric support group at the North Bar for people who only have one good something.

M. Quiet said...
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M. Quiet said...

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M. Quiet said...
i switched my blazer seats for this season so that the person sitting on the right (me) is closer to mid-court than the person sitting on the left (you).