Friday, March 18, 2011

The Sound Of Near Silence

When I was preparing for my orchestra's concert earlier this month, one of the pieces we played reminded me very much of the music in the movie The Miracle Worker. So I looked up the movie, watched it on YouTube, and ended up reading some things about Helen Keller. I thought I would enjoy reading her autobiography because it would be interesting to see how she experienced life as a deaf/mute/blind person. I wanted to know what was it like from the inside. Two days later I began to get very bad earaches. Two days before my orchestra concert, my ears filled up to the point where I could hardly hear anything at all.

I've had a double ear infection for two weeks now. I've had earaches before, usually at the tail end of colds. This came at the tail end of a cold too, but this one really knocked me for a loop. I did alright for the concert. I can hear my violin when I play alone, which is good since I had a couple of solo parts to play! But I can't hear people talking very well and when the whole orchestra was playing, I couldn't hear myself. I went to the doctor and I'm on antibiotics and my hearing is slowly getting better. I can hear my baby birds again, which is really nice.

I stopped reading Helen Keller's autobiography when I first got sick. To tell the truth, it scared me! But my doctor assured me there will be no permanent hearing loss from this, so I am not scared anymore.

It certainly has been an interesting experience, being nearly deaf. Last weekend my sister and her family were visiting. We had a wonderful time, but I had a very hard time conversing. I found myself feeling a little embarrassed at how many times I had to say, "Sorry, I can't hear you. What did you say?". I could only hear if they got right up close and spoke quite loudly. When we watched a movie together, I had to have the closed captioning on. That was a real nice option, because I couldn't hear the dialog at all. At the worst point, I had to have the volume turned all the way up on the stereo just to hear the words of a TV show. My poor family couldn't tolerate that so I've only watched/listened to things with the headphones. Now it is much better. We watched American Idol last night with the volume at just a little louder than normal and with the headphones I could hear it pretty well.

It has not been an all negative experience, being nearly deaf. I find myself slowed down a bit inside my head. I am a super-sensitive type and normally every little sound is ultra clear and at times it can be quite distracting. I have been feeling much calmer in the quietude. I hear my heart beat and the hiss in my ears, and the sound of the air going into my lungs and out again. In the summer when I swim, I like to float around the pool on my back, with my ears just under the water. I can hear the sound of my breathing and all the outside sounds are very muted. I find it very relaxing. Well, this ear infection has had the same effect. I hear my breathing and my heartbeat, and all the outside noise is either muted or inaudible.

I am very glad to be hearing more again. It was an interesting experience, but I much prefer being able to hear. I do have a much greater appreciation for those who are permanently hard of hearing. It can be a very lonely place not being able to hear. I very much appreciated the people who made the extra effort to speak loudly enough for me to hear them. Maybe I'll read that autobiography now. I wonder if there is an audio version. :)