Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Post-traumatic Stress Recorder

I read somewhere a long time ago that there's a psychological phenomenon that sometimes occurs six months after a traumatic or life-altering event - a sort of delayed reaction which can manifest itself in a number of ways.

I suppose it's true. I lost my hearing in June, and in December, I had my own uninvited and not-terribly-welcome delayed reaction. By December, I was thoroughly sick of being deaf. In December, it dawned on me that this wasn't going away. I was going to go to bed every night deaf, and wake up every morning deaf. The ASL, instead of feeling like my friend, had become frustratingly complex. Work was going to be hard and frustrating every single day. It wasn't going to stop. At least, not unless the CI was implanted - surgery. And was tuned. (Repeated trips to Halifax, 4 hours away.) And worked, all of which in this black mood felt unimaginably unlikely and distant.

I had insisted on being relentlessly cheerful and positive. I had counted and recounted my blessings. Immediately after losing my hearing, I had plowed ahead with a positively Pollyanna attitude that "we'll get through it, you betcha!"

By December, I knew what I was up against. I was sick of being cheerful, sick of being positive, and even sick of counting.

I didn't want to go to work. I didn't want to go out. I didn't want to be deaf.

Christmas was a double-edged sword, by which I managed to distract myself, and also remained in a state of low-grade annoyance at the things I had previously enjoyed and was now missing - carols, concerts, the sound of familiar movies. Sis' arrival was wonderful - except that we couldn't have the long conversations I had enjoyed with her the last time I'd seen her. Everything was good - but everything seemed about what I didn't have, as opposed to what I used to have.

I didn't want to be deaf anymore, thanks. I didn't want to work at it. I didn't want every social interaction to be hard. I didn't want to make stupid mistakes at work or have mixups at home based on my misunderstandings. I was tired of appointments and forms and dealing with the employment people who work with us "special" people to get equipment and software for work.

Nobody has offered me counseling at any point during this process. I don't suppose that's so unusual - Canada isn't as therapy-mad as the US. Counseling is the exception here rather than the norm. But I started feeling like I couldn't really cope with this, and I needed help with it.

But what were the chances of accessing a therapist who could even communicate adequately with me, much less one who understood the psychological aspects of what I was dealing with? And who had the energy to start working through the red tape to access one, anyway?

In the last two days, I've noticed a difference in the light here, as I walk to work and walk home.

The colour of the light is different. The temperature is higher. I go to work with my head bare.

Today, my crocuses arrived. The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) sells them as a fundraiser. I ordered them, along with most of my office mates, a couple of weeks ago. Today, they are on my windowsill - a small pot full to bursting with sturdy, thick green shoots waiting to explode into blossom.

Next week, I go to Halifax for my evaluation with the surgical team.

Spring is coming, you can feel it now. There will be bad cold snaps and the odd blizzard, but the light lasts longer every day. My black mood is lifting with the renewed belief that no, I can't stand being deaf, I want to stop being deaf. But it might not be forever.




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