Talk to Me

Minnie Jan porch

[Written six months before my first cochlear implant in 2015. Now, with the second implant on the horizon, I’m remembering how things were, how I’d created the world’s tiniest world.]

I love my dogs more now that I’m going deaf. They’re not interested in having conversations. They just like to hang out. Wordlessly.

It is a relief, an unburdening that is hard to explain to a person with fully functional hearing. It is exhausting to be hearing impaired. Pile on the completely unpredictable layers of self-pity and self-doubt and hearing loss very nearly becomes a mental health issue. I kid you not. Really. I kid about very little when it comes to hearing loss. Other people occasionally find it funny but not me.

It is because of this frequent slow-dancing with depression related to my hearing loss that I appreciate my dogs’ low expectations of me. They bark, but at other people, other dogs, a knock on a neighbor’s door, flies circling an apple core in the gutter. They do know how to express themselves in the world. They are not mute and they most certainly are not deaf. That’s a good thing. Their ears protect me from the gnats of life, big and small.

It occurs to me as I reflect on my verbally undemanding dogs that the path to becoming a complete recluse gets shorter everyday, more welcoming, into the green where lilies of the valley sprout from old logs and tall ferns flag in the breeze. It is shady and soft with rays of sunshine slicing between tall pines. It is silent there except for the sounds the birds flying overhead must be making. Who wouldn’t want to go there?

I do. I would. I could sit on my back porch with my dogs all day every day. I could write my blog, read, pretend to garden, communicate only with those people who have passed the test of being hearable. This means no new people. New people, well, new people could be indecipherable. The risk is immense.

I could wear jeans all the time, move around town too fast to chat, communicate with people entirely in print, watch only what is captioned. I could wallpaper the bubble I often wish I was in and live there forever.

But I think I would be lonely there, even with my accepting, unconcerned dogs. I think the life inside my head would be too small and, after a while, I would forget the sound of my own voice.

I’m not ready for that. Not yet. Probably not for a long time.

5 Comments on “Talk to Me

  1. Hi, Jan. I hear you are going in for your SECOND cochlear surgery next month. GOOD luck with that. As you probably know, I am rehabbing from my second cochlear surgery. I’m in a rough patch right now because I am reliant on the cochlear in my right ear for everything. Everything is muddy and over modulated – even when I ride the volume. It’s hard for me to converse with family even when facing them directly. Frustration is bordering on depression. I’ve dealt with the hearing challenge my entire life but this, frankly, is wearing me down. Next week, we consult about the new cochlears and the accessories which supposedly will help me focus on those talking to me while fading the background/extraneous stuff. Fingers crossed and thanks for the encouragement. Please keep me in the loop about your situation. It’s good to know someone who REALLY understands. Again, I am rooting for you.

    • Thanks, Garry. Are you having trouble with your first implant? Did it get weird after the second one? Is your second one activated? And, yes, it is really great to know somebody dealing with this little (not so little) challenge.

      • Jan, no problems with the first surgery. It’s the dependence on the cochlear in my right ear – supplying ALL my audio. The second surgery removed the remnants of my natural hearing. Everything til the second cochlear is off balanced.

  2. Thx for sharing this. Helps me to understand this huge challenge you face every day and how exhausting it is for you. “Those who passed the test of being hearable”………..Good luck w new implant.

  3. Forwarding this to Garry. He’s really down because with only one working cochlear machine and even knowing that he IS getting all new equipment, he’s depressed that he can’t communicate, barely is willing to talk and is retreating into his silent world. Luckily, he will be able to come out of it in a matter of weeks. He’s having such a hard time. He needs to be reminded sometimes that he is NOT alone. But he it’s a hard time for him.

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