So That’s what Thanksgiving Sounds Like

Hearing Thanksgiving
November 24, 2005

This is my first Thanksgiving with sound. When I was 6 years old I was struck by a car, and due to a brain injury I lost all of my memories prior to the accident. Therefore, all of those Thanksgivings are “gone”. As a result of the accident, I was to never hear normally again.

In my mid-twenties, my husband and I realized that my hearing loss was not only worsening, but was bi-lateral as well. After seeing my family practitioner, ENT’s, and audiologists, we came to terms with the fact that I was going deaf. It was a slow process, and I have often wondered if that was a blessing or a curse. I have since talked to people who have lost their hearing mysteriously and suddenly. It has hurt my heart to listen to their own wrenching ordeal of coming to terms with hearing loss. I have thought about how difficult it must be, to be forced to come to terms with hearing loss overnight. In many ways, I counted myself blessed that at least my hearing loss was a gradual loss. And yet, in hindsight, I know that in the past things like Thanksgiving would have me wondering how “next” Thanksgiving would be in anticipation of not hearing as well.

I’m not at all discounting the pain and heartache those who lose their hearing suddenly, experience. However, I know from my own hearing loss journey, that re-living a loss over and over again can take an incredible toll. I would learn to adjust to communicating differently, and advocating for ways to make my world more meaningful, only to realize my hearing had worsened again. I had to start from scratch over and over. I would experience the same emotions; denial, anger, depression, acceptance, etc. I remember thinking that this was not something that became easier with repeat lessons. Each audiogram that I held in my hand was not just a graph of declining decibels. It was as if I could see my hearing slipping away from me.

In April of this year I was implanted with a cochlear implant. I have mixed emotions as Thanksgiving approaches! Of course, I look forward to hearing things that I haven’t in decades. However, my habit has been to look ahead in anticipation of what next year will be for me with additional hearing loss. Today, I find that I am looking back instead. That, in and of itself, is difficult for me to grasp.

Thanksgiving has always been my sitting in front of a clock, as a timer for the turkey could not be heard. This morning, I actually heard the beeps as I punched in 3.5 hours, as a result of my CI. Yesterday, I could hear the sweet potatoes boiling as I prepared them for a casserole to re-heat today. I have no memory of boiling potatoes making a sound. I’m making some new memories today.

It’s funny the things you find to be thankful for when you are late-deafened. My son reached around me to open the fridge this morning, and I heard the refrigerator door open and shut. I am sitting at the computer typing away, and I can hear my daughter start the shower. I hear this as background noise to the clickity-click of the keys on the keyboard as I type.

My son has started the CD player with Clay Aiken’s Christmas album, so I reached up to turn my CI off. Music is still difficult for me. As I sit to finish this journal entry in silence, I can honestly say that this too is “nice”. Having been in silence so long, there are times I retreat to “rest” and think without distraction. Perhaps, this is what I find that I am most thankful for today. Yes, I am thankful for friends, family and for health. I am thankful that I live in the U.S., with freedoms I pray I never take for granted. I am thankful for my home which is under the roof of a house – for the two are very different. But I am very thankful for learning to adjust and grow. My hearing loss has taught me to change when needed, and to react to necessary changes with as much grace as I can muster.

Thanksgiving has many sounds today. But ironically the “loudest” things I hear are those things I heard before the implant. Those lessons and “sounds” that a heart hears and identifies.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Frederick, MD
©2006 Hearing Loss Diary

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