Unless you are born otherwise, you have five senses that aid in the way in which you experience the world: taste, sight, sound, touch, and smell. Each sense helps you make sound decisions regarding what you eat, where you go, and how you move. The saying is that if you lose a sense, your other senses get that much stronger. If you are born without a sense, you know no other way to live your life. You do not miss what you never had. However, if you lose a sense during the course of your lifetime, your life is changed forever. You must learn to live a new normal.
Now You Hear; Now You Don’t
My father-in-law was about sixteen years old. He always had some difficulties hearing, but he could hear well enough to enjoy life. Then, at sixteen he went into the shower to start his day, able to hear the shower running. All of the sudden, he no longer heard any sound at all. He thought he had water clogging his ears. He desperately tried to get out the water so he could hear again. Of course, that did not happen. My father-in-law was completely deaf from that moment on (or at least until he was in his fifties and received a cochlear implant). The truth is, my father-in-law missed hearing. Since he could hear in his youth, he never learned sign language. Therefore, becoming deaf cut off all of his levels of communication that did not include a pen and a piece of paper. His life was changed forever. He had two children and never heard their voice as children. It wasn’t until his first grandchild was born, and he received a cochlear implant, did he hear a child’s laugh. He used to think (as most of us do) that was the best sound in the world.
The Loneliness Follows
Keep in mind, my father-in-law grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s. Disabilities were not widely accepted, and anyone who had one was often treated as an outcast. For a man who was a stellar athlete and had a ton of friends, this new life was a difficult transition. Now, not only could he no longer just chat with his friends, but strangers did not know how to respond to him. He lived in a tight-knit community, which helped in ensuring he was not completely isolated. However, he would often have to prove that because he was deaf, did not mean he was not an intelligent man. He hated the stigma that was associated with a person who could not hear and worked hard against that stigma.
The fact is, my father-in-law’s deafness could have been prevented. If they had lived in today’s world, with the advancement of medical technology, he would have maintained his hearing throughout his entire life. However, back then, no one knew to be concerned with chronic ear infections. Often times, his ear infections would simply “run their course,” and he would be back to enjoying life. Over time, these chronic infections caused more serious ear problems, thereby eventually leaving him deaf.
Today, you can avoid these types of issues. Simply follow up with your audiologist whenever you detect an ear issue. If you need to go for a basic hearing test or need a more extensive exam, contact the experts at Chears Audiology at 612-979-0561.