My ears are useless
On accepting bodily failure
I’m devastated to report that my ear surgery failed again, in almost the exact same way: It worked for two weeks, and now my hearing is worse than before. It’s hard to find the words to express how gutted I feel.
What I am trying to explore is the experience of coming in to disability gradually. I suppose it happens this way for many people: For a long while, you can interact with the world like a “normal” person. And then, slowly, skills and senses and abilities deprecate. You wake up one morning and realize you’re quite different, in your body, from how you once were. The feeling of loss is substantial. I’m not sure how to be sometimes. It is difficult to be with people and communicate with them, and so I find myself drawing increasingly inward and preferring to be alone. The world is very quiet, and I am quiet in it.
Those two weeks of fleeting success hold particular pain for me. For two weeks, I had so much hope and happiness whenever I heard the tiniest little sound, whispers I could never hear before. And then it gradually fell back—and back to an even worse place, where the tinnitus is just deafening all day long, where I can no longer hear Guion speak softly when he’s lying right next to me, where I can’t hear my children cry from the next room. It would have been better, I think, if it had failed immediately.
As my surgeon said, amusingly, about these two short weeks of regaining my hearing: “You saw Paris!” I did, yes. And then Paris went up in flames! Or disappeared into a confounding mist? I don’t know. In any case, to hell with Paris; wish I’d never seen it.
I suppose I like writing about it because it means I won’t have to talk about it as much in person, which almost always makes me cry, and I am tired of crying. I hope to get better hearing aids soon. At this point, I think that’s all I can do, and then learn how to live with this loss and accept the identity of being a hearing-impaired person.
Recently, Guion sent me this poem. It is apropos.
One Sand Grain Among the Others in Winter Wind
I wake with my hand over the place of grief in my body. "Depend on nothing," the voice advises, but even that is useless. My ears are useless, my familiar and intimate tongue. My protecting hand is useless, that wants to hold the single leaf to the tree and say, Not this one, this one will be saved.
— Jane Hirshfield
On a happier note, the boys have been so delightful lately. We enjoyed our time in the Pines with Nana and Pax for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Moses is full of stories and questions and amusing asides. He listens to everything and repeats so much of what we say (we have to be more careful). He is so strange and enjoyable. And Felix is finally walking more and more and just the happiest little savage.
I am often too busy to be sad, and that, I suppose, is a good thing.
New favorite tiny gadget: A cord-keeper for kitchen appliances. It’s the little things, y’all.
These flexible, sticky add-ons keep those cords on small appliances (toasters, blenders, etc.) neatly wrapped up—and keep your cabinets and cupboards so much more pleasant and tidy. Will make your life 2% better.
How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty-One Attempts at an Answer, Sarah Bakewell
Lost Time: Lectures on Proust in a Soviet Prison Camp, Józef Czapski
Either/Or, Soren Kierkegaard