Wednesday, September 04, 2013

A Deaf Ear

If you have to lose an input, I suppose there are worse ones than the hearing in your right ear.

I speak from experience.  But, when I am lying down and speaking with a book cover positioned over the left side of my face, I can't hear myself.  Fortunately, it's a not a position I am in very often these days, now that bedtime stories have passed from our scene.

My bad right ear has gone from a nuisance to something close to a handicap, but considering the other possibilities, I am not complaining too much.

I had a colleague years ago, an older woman whose pedigree showed in her name and her bone structure.  She was the daughter in one of those families that have one son, one daughter, and a railroad concern.  The mother drank and was prone to rages.  I always wondered if that had something to do with the loss of my colleague's right eye.  I never learned how it had happened, or why she wore an eye patch rather than a glass eye (I had another friend with a glass eye and I always had trouble figuring out which one it was).  The eye patch, of course, became her defining characteristic.  She told me once (with a smile) that she hoped my children wouldn't be afraid when they met her, and tapped the patch. (They weren't. Patch or no patch, she was obviously a friendly creature).

I think of this sometimes as I am leaning in to some soft spoken person, asking her to repeat herself, or moving walking companions over to my left side.  My bad ear is a bother but the ear still looks OK, and shallow being that I am, I am grateful for that.  Also, one can get by with a bad ear.  Ask Stephen Colbert.

The trouble, as is the usual the case, is on the inside.  Those tiny bones in my right ear that are supposed to move around in response to the sound waves are stuck.  There is an operation: they actually replace the little piston type bone with a new one. I have inquired about this a couple of times.  Both times, the surgeon said it was unclear whether it would help me much, given the range of my hearing loss.  I don't quite understand this, though he tried to explain it and I was close enough to hear it all clearly.  There is also the risk that the little bit of hearing I have left (like when I turn my hair dryer into that ear, or brush the teeth on that side of my head with a power toothbrush) might be lost forever, so on I go with stuck ear bones.

Hearing aids, BTW, have proven of limited use. Someone once described hearing aids like having a flashlight in the dark.  Better than nothing, but nothing like daylight.  I have tried them, lost them, and been disappointed.  I guess I'm ready for another round now.  I don't mind being seen in a hearing aid.