My husband Tim has a joke that he made up. He says 8 percent of men are color blind. Of those, 60 percent are dust blind. In extreme cases, this condition can advance to wife deafness.
His joke came true in a twisted way recently. Although he continued to hear me, the wife was somewhat deaf.
About a month ago, I caught the cold that’s been going around, and after a flight home from New York, it seemed the cabin pressure forced the infection into my ears. After a week or so, my left ear became completely clogged. The stuffiness muffled sounds, as though an ear plug had been inserted.
When the symptoms persisted, I finally saw a doctor and was prescribed a 10-day treatment of antibiotics.
The compromise of one of my senses gave me new appreciation for it. At a meeting with dozens of people talking all around me, I had trouble making out any of conversations. Throughout the hearing-impaired time, I asked, “What?” and “Pardon me?” often. I repeated what others said just to confirm I’d heard them correctly.
Often, the most pervasive sound in that ear was tinnitus, or ringing, sloshing when I shook my head or bent over and an occasional pop.
During this time, the thought occurred to me as I grow older, this condition may return and be permanent. I also realized life would go on, and I’d make the best of what it offered me.
My aunt Mary had a little trouble hearing, after all, and when she was in her 70s, I sometimes had to repeat myself. But she continued to enjoy her life, taking yoga, caring for her little patch of yard, writing letters, and meeting often with friends, who I assume never cared that she didn’t always hear.
Tim has been putting up with my hard-of-hearing condition, too, and we’ve even joked about it a bit. It’s given him the opportunity to tell his own humorous story a few times.
All of us have our afflictions, but as they say with a shrug in New York, “Whaddya gonna do?”
You move on, you laugh, and you enjoy what you do have. And yes, I can hear you now.