Friday, September 03, 2004

There are worse things than being profoundly deaf.

My point - and I did have one - when I began talking about "Alain" yesterday was to mention to you a story he told me. I've noted before that right around the same time I lost all my hearing, "Alain's" office saw three other people here in town who had experienced the same thing (hence the 'virus' theory). He commented to me when I saw him last week that one of those people had been prescribed steroids as well, and that some of her hearing had returned.

I wish that was her happy ending but it isn't. Remember just before I lost the last of my hearing I mentioned that according to the tests, the sounds I was hearing had an 80% distortion rate?

Imagine you're talking to Charlie Brown's teacher ("Waah wah waaaah wah wah") inside the back of a drained tanker truck. Now imagine Charlie Brown's teacher is yelling because you're deaf, although you can still just hear her. Now run that through one of those dollar store "echo mics". That's kind of what a voice sounds like with 80% distortion.

That's the level this poor woman's hearing returned to. I was appalled. Given the choice between being completely deaf and living in that nightmarish bizarro-world of weird, scary and useless sound, I would have chosen this. A hearing aid won't help - she'll just hear louder distorted noise. I can't imagine suffering that every day for the rest of my life. God, it was awful.

I asked "Alain" if she had been offered counseling of any kind to help her cope with this. He seemed surprised and said it hadn't occurred to him. I suggested that if he thought it was appropriate, he might consider offering it to her. It's not a nice place to live, I told him. It's not a nice place to live at all.



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