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Temporary hearing loss is not fun

January 26, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
For the last week and a half I have been hard of hearing, which has been a frustrating and humbling experience.

Last week I had a nasty ear infection in both ears. Antibiotics cleared the ear infections, but they left behind fluid buildup in both ears that has left me with a severe and hopefully temporary hearing impairment. I have battled hearing loss following ear infections before, but I have never had the hearing loss in both ears at the same time. It could take days or even weeks to recover completely.

In the last week I have discovered that I can't hear a conversation going on at the desk next to mine and literally have to be inches from someone's face to make out whether he is telling me "hello" or asking "how are you?" I turn my television up to its full volume and it's still not quite loud enough for me to hear every word from across the room. A clerk at one of the local department stores tried to tell me a joke while I was buying cold medicine the other day and I couldn't make out what he was saying. It might not have been a very good joke, so I might not have missed out on much there.

The whole experience has been a little eerie, like being underwater and hearing muffled conversations going on in the world above you, like being part of the world and a step removed from it at the same time.

I have interviewed people who are deaf and have always thought we'd have so much more to say to each other if only I spoke sign language. Instead, I have made do with interpreters or by passing a notebook back and forth or, lately, with e-mail. It's an unsatisfactory substitute for a face to face conversation. I always thought how frustrating it must be not to be able to communicate one on one with so much of the population. Now I see firsthand that I was right.

On the other hand, I now have a little more understanding and even greater respect for people who deal with hearing impairment on a permanent basis.

 
 

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