It’s been almost 4 months since activation and almost 8 months to the day that I lost all hearing in my right ear. Today I woke to the realization that the small amount of hearing in my left ear is gone. The last few weeks I had been experiencing a massive increase in my tinnitus and the past couple days have noticed the same static/crackling sounds of a poorly tuned radio from my left ear – the same symptoms I experienced in my right ear last year before going completely deaf in that ear. This time it was less noticeable though as my left ear really hasn’t had much hearing for a very long time and I rely heavily on my right to hear. Even so, the small amount of hearing I had did allow me to hear sounds with the assistance of a hearing aid. It added depth and “bass” that I don’t get from my cochlear implant even though clarity was non existent, plus it did help me to locate the direction sounds were coming from (impossible with a CI alone).
There is a certain finality to the realization that I have no natural hearing remaining in either ear now. A level of grief that I didn’t really expect to experience as I have considered myself deaf since June. It seems there are 50 shades of deafness and I have now hit the “stone deaf” shade. Don’t get me wrong, I am blessed beyond measure to be able to hear through my cochlear implant in my right ear. Not a day goes by where I don’t appreciate the technology that allows me to hear. Even so, the reality is, I will always be deaf. Without the assistance of my CI, I can now hear nothing but the lawnmowers that continue to buzz in my head, louder than ever before.
I admit, I shed a few tears today in silence. I mourn the loss of a sense in its entirety. It is sad that we so easily take things for granted until we no longer have the ability or access. Yesterday I remarked that I found it incredibly cool to be able to carry on a conversation in the dark. Not one of my hearing friends understood what I was talking about. However, the same comment made in a cochlear implant users community was echoed by so many. When you have the ability to hear, you tend to take those little things for granted so the impossibility of hearing someone speaking in the dark is lost on you.
I wake up every morning now to the sound of my ever constant mowers and I take a few minutes to hear nothing else, to remind myself of how blessed I am to hear with my implant. I don’t ever want to get to the point where I take that for granted.
I still find it incredibly cool to have a bionic ear. The quality of sound and my ability to listen with it has greatly improved over the last 4 months. Voices are so much better – not quite normal, but close! I know my journey to better hearing isn’t over yet and I hope that it continues to improve over the next few months & years.
I keep praying and hoping that Ontario will loosen the purse strings for those of us who are bilaterally deaf to be able to have implants in both ears. Now more than ever, as I have nothing to lose in that ear and everything to gain. The biggest fear lingering in my mind is the limitation of an electronic device. This one tiny processor is the only thing that links me to the world of sound now. Should that fail, I am plunged back into the world of silence. It may not be the worst place to exist, but the sounds of life are a beautiful thing that no one should have to miss.