Silence can be creepy…

As I approach my six month anniversary of hearing (is it me or has this gone fast?) with a Cochlear Implant, I’m amazed at how much I still learn about myself. It’s so weird to me that I spent so many years learning about myself as a hard of hearing person, and then a deaf person, only to do the reverse this year and learn so many things about being a hearing person again. You’d think I’d just remember -oh yeah, that’s what its like to hear this or that- but it’s more than that.

I’m still learning about what I can’t hear. Even now that I can hear.

Someone asked me a few months back what it was like to turn my processor off or take it off at night. The only thing I could think to say was that it’s just kinda weird. It’s like a brain freeze or something. I turn it off, pull it off my ear, and the quiet is so deafening. Ironic to use that work, but it’s amazing just how loud silence can be. It’s all-consuming. But it doesn’t ever really bother me at night. The time I take it off is in the second before I hit the pillow, so it’s usually just a slight sense of relief. Usually.

A few weeks ago my son’s school called me to let me know I needed to bring in a copy of something or other that they needed to complete his registration for kindergarten. The school is seriously not more than a mile from me, so I stuck the kids in the car and we were there in less than a minute or two. On the way, my processor chimed two or three times in my ear (I forget how many) to let me know that my battery was nearly dead. It’s a great thing that it gives me advance warning, not just shuts down, because it usually means I have anywhere from fifteen minutes to a full hour to replace batteries. And it also usually means that I just pull out my spare from my purse and make the switch. Usually.

It was unfortunate that day that I completely forgot to put the fully charged spare in my purse. Even more unfortunate was the fact that, while I thought fifteen minutes was plenty time to drop off the paper at the school, my battery completely cut off about two steps from the school’s entry door.

Let me say again that silence is deafening.

When the battery cut off, I stopped mid-stride. The silence was screaming at me to strap the kids back in the car and head home to pick up another battery. Thoughts flew through my mind about a mile a minute.

Are there cars approaching behind that I can’t hear? No, and we were on the sidewalk anyway.

Are both kids’ feet firmly planted on the sidewalk just in case a car passes and I don’t hear it? Yes, they’re both far away from the curb.

They should walk in front of me in case I can’t hear them and they do run into the street.

Relax, the kids are fine.

What if they ask me a question in the office?

Will I understand them if I lipread now? I haven’t done that as much lately.

Maybe I should just go back home and get the battery.

It’ll take me two seconds to drop a paper, but ten minutes to strap the kids back in, go, and come back.

Can I do this without it though?

What if they ask me something and I completely misunderstand?

And the questions kept going and going and going. Kinda like the energizer battery. Seriously.

I did end up walking into the office, handed them the paper, and exited without having to even tell them I was technically deaf. It was weird not hearing them talk to me.  Even more weird was not hearing my own voice responding to them, or knowing how loud my responses were. But I did it. And I returned home, chastising myself the whole way for not having that spare battery.

Do you like creepy movies? I don’t. Especially movies like The Village. But I’ve seen it and let me tell ya, that day at the elementary school I felt like I was the girl in the red cape, stumbling through the forest, all the while fearing that something… something… was out there coming for me.

It’s so odd that in less than half a year I could be so sensitive to just five minutes of silence and so incredibly dependent on a device I hardly know still. It amazes me.

I got a spare battery in my purse now. Don’t leave home without it.


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