Today was Garry’s 3-month post-operative surgical appointment at UMass hospital.
He hasn’t had any problems at all with the surgery. Actually, he has not had any trouble with the process, except for the minor detail that every day is a surprise. Each new sound is something he has to recognize, then classify.
He hears the squeaky ball that Duke is chewing. He hears the trucks pulling into the driveway. He recognizes the opening and closing of the gate downstairs. He can hear his own breathing and finds it distracting. We all assure him he will learn to filter that kind of sound, as well as many other ordinary sounds that the rest of us automatically don’t notice.
It takes a lot of work to learn to hear when you are 76. Sounds that the rest of us have always recognized, he is hearing for the first time. It’s a lot of work and a lot of mental processing.
It can be a bit exhausting for him. I suspect sometimes all he wants is that old familiar silence where no one expects him to answer because they know he didn’t hear them.
Today he picked up the phone when it rang … and he heard it. He hates telephones and has for a very long time. It has a lot to do with getting calls from work at all hours of the day and night. Over the years it became a bit of a phobia. Hopefully, he will get over it. Because all of us deserve to have to listen to the other electric company’s spiel on how they will lower our rates (no they won’t). At least the political season is over for a couple of months so the surveyors won’t be calling. That’s something.
On the positive side, I am (finally) not the only one who wonders what that weird noise is in the basement. Also, when we have an argument, he knows what I said — which is not always ideal.
He is not the only one who has to learn new things. I have lost my role as permanent interpreter, which to be fair, I’m glad to lose. I have not lost my role in telling people to please speak up, especially the receptionists in the Hearing Clinic.
They speak so softly, I can barely hear them. Meanwhile, the people they are talking to are actually in the process of trying to learn to hear. I figure they should speak up. Put a little diaphragmatic air into your larynx and push it out through your vocal cords. That’s what makes it possible for others else to hear you.
It’s what speakers are taught. Actors and reporters, too. Sometimes, you don’t have a microphone. You just have you.
Okay, among other things, I was a speech major. Actually, I have a degree in it. I have never used the degree for anything except telling other people to “please speak up!”
Garry is quite the star of the Otolaryngology Department. He can hear remarkably well for just three months into the program.
I expected him to be a star. When Garry works at something, he really works at it. He had to learn to speak properly with significant deafness. He learned it well enough to be on television every day for many years. So given this challenge, I knew he’d work at it as hard as he has ever worked at anything else in his life.
The hard work paid off. He can hear. I wish he had this option in his life many years earlier but if ever the expression “better late than never” had relevance, now is that moment.
Next week, he has his three-month audiological checkup. I bet he’s going to be a star.