For the story of the first time , click here.
The second time I lost my hearing, it was like deja vu. The first instance I was 7 and this go-round I was 27 – funny how life plays out. Was it the 20th anniversary celebration or something? I’m not sure, but I do know it was the morning before Christmas. I rolled over and automatically knew something wasn’t quite right.
Although I wore a hearing aid only during waking hours, I still had some residual hearing. If things were loud and/or close enough, I would notice them. It enabled me to use alarms in some cases, understand environmental cues without my aid if around water, and even understand some speech in certain instances. It was never unintentionally silent.
But that morning… it was silent.
Over the years, I’d developed a fairly strong awareness of when my hearing drops and, oftentimes, the culprit. It can be a faulty hearing aid (wax buildup/water/old age) or a program on the aid. It can be the environment (‘Oops, there’s no issue. I just had the volume on mute. Smh’ – sounds super crazy but ’tis the hearing impaired life). Other times it’s me: wax in the ear or the occasional congestion that many experience when it feels like your head is in a vacuum.
But that morning… I immediately knew it wasn’t any of those.
Because I couldn’t even hear myself.
Regular morning sounds were absent. The rolling over in bed, the throat clearing, the environment… nada. Panic began to set in, but I tried to relax and put on my hearing aid as usual to see what happened. It’s always the first thing I grab in the morning, along with my glasses (if not my phone *I know. Bad Millennial!*).
I popped my aid on. Nada. *another deep breath* Changed the battery. Nada. Popped the wax cover off, as it sometimes gets blocked. Nada. I then try to pop my ears. In the past, if congested, this would offer at least temporary relief and I would be able to confirm ‘ok, that’s it… let’s grab some decongestant.’ I force a yawn, Vasalva Manuever… nada. At this point, I know I’m grasping at straws. Because not even the little sound I’m used to, hearing aid or not, is getting through as I move about.
Family is downstairs and as I walk down and enter the kitchen, I can see items that are supposed to be creating noise: mouths moving, pans colliding, faucets on, feet pacing… but it was like watching a silent film. All I can muster is “umm… bad news…” I know I’m talking although I can’t hear my own words. “I can’t hear anything.” My mom comes over and asks if it’s maybe the hearing aid. I tell her that I don’t think so, but show her how to enclose it in her hand to check for feedback. If it squeals, that means it’s on. She nods to confirm the noise.
Reality set in at that point. Quickly.
I knew that Christmas wasn’t going to be the same. I knew all from that moment on was going to be different. It already was. And I sat at the kitchen table… and cried. I mean, I bawled.
As much as I remembered to and was reminded to hold fast to hope and faith, as much as I was comforted… Something told me that was it. I believe in intuition and have been led to great things when I heed it. It told me that this was a shift in my story and the start of a new chapter.
And it was.