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. :)


  1. I am glad that your ears are recovering--what an interesting experience though! I can relate to getting overwhelmed by sound, that has to be the most distracting sense. I can imagine it being lonely not sharing in the everyday sounds of conversation and music. I would have a harder time without vision but music is such a vital part of my life that I would be incredibly sad without it. Maybe I'll look up Helen Keller too at some point...

  2. It's been something else and I'm very glad to hear again!! Thanks for reading. :)

  3. I'm glad you won't have any permanent damage to your hearing. I sometimes get overwhelmed by sound in noisy places due to a slight processing disorder. And i have trouble understanding what people say if i can't read their lips. But i wouldn't want to be deaf.

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