About the Time I Went Deaf

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I had a great
post all ready to go on what it’s like to be deaf. For the
past year I couldn’t hear anything with my right ear. I could
only hear out of the other ear if you basically yelled into it.
I could barely talk on the phone. Everyone sounded like they were
mumbling. At night when there were no noises I could close my eyes
and hear this static that would get louder and louder. That static
was the only sound I could hear. I was convinced I was going deaf.
What a great blog post this was going to be, I thought.

I liked it.
My kids would talk to me and I could ignore them. Sometimes Claudia
would start to say something to me in the other room and I could
vaguely hear but I would pretend not to. I was tuned into my own
static. It was a wonderful feeling. I felt like the static was all
over me, comforting me.

Then yesterday,
after three months of delay and at Claudia’s insistence, I
went to the doctor. “Ugh,” the doctor said after she spent
some time peering into my right ear, “you should see what’s
in here.” Then she started squirting hot water in my ear.

She got some
tweezers and pulled something out of my ear. I swear to god it looked
like someone had taken a shit in my ear. I said, “ugh, is that
shit?”

“Ear wax,”
she said.

“Yeah,
but what is ear wax? Is it made out of the same stuff as shit?”
I vaguely remembered Claudia telling me on a few occasions that
my head smelled but I always thought it was my hair or something.

“Well,”
the doctor said, and like doctors do, she had to figure out how
to say something amazingly complex in layman’s terms, “the
cells in your ear have secretions.”

“So it’s
cell shit?” I said.

“Let’s
just check the other ear,” she said. And that was that. She
kept showing me what was pulling out of there. It was like my entire
brain was being shat out of my ear.

But then suddenly
I could hear. I think it had been about a year or so since I heard
properly. Everyone’s voice sounded different. It was like when
you play with the car radio and you turn it all the way to treble
from where it was previously all the way at bass. I didn’t
like it.

“I can
hear things now,” I said.

“Isn’t
that nice?” she said.

I went outside.
Claudia was waiting for me. “I can hear things now,” I
said.

“Really?”
she said. She was disappointed. Later, she told me she had gotten
used to talking about me behind my back with my daughters and laughing
because they knew I wouldn’t hear it. She tried testing me.
While she was in the kitchen and I was in the living room she started
whispering. (As she proofread this she said, “we weren’t
making fun of you! Well, just a little.”)

“I can
hear you,” I said. “Darnit!” she said. She doesn’t
curse. I felt like a superhero. If I wanted to I could charge up
my superhearing and hear conversations miles away, particularly
if people were talking about me.

Later that
night I woke up at three in the morning. I couldn’t sleep.
There were no sounds. I missed my static. I tried to listen for
it but it was gone. Sometimes I had let the static rock me to sleep.
I could almost feel it on my body it had been so loud. But now there
was no static there. I also heard Claudia snoring.

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the rest of the article

March
10, 2012

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