|To be Deaf
A friend of mine wanted me to listen to an audio book using her noise-canceling headphones. She said I would find the experience “awesome.” So I borrowed them recently and set myself up with all the accoutrements one needs to get comfortable for a good story, including one comfy sofa, eyeglasses, diet coke, and the bulky looking headphones.
I wondered if this was a good idea because they seemed cumbersome, but I put on the headphones and the sounds of the world melted away. It was weird. I no longer heard the washing machine chugging away, or the furnace kick on, or the sound of my huge dog padding around on hard-wood floors. I did not even hear the three snow blowers working outside to clear the snow from the surrounding homes until I looked out the window. This was an eye-opener to what it feels like to be deaf.
I sat there very contented for a long time without starting the audio book. Instead I was content to watch things without sound. I reclined further into the chaise thinking a non-hearing person probably falls asleep very easily. I probably would have if my son had not come into the room and poked me in the shoulder. I jumped right out of my seat like I had dynamite underneath me. “You almost gave me a heart-attack.” I shouted. It’s shameless how easily I can be spooked.
I watched his face and he started laughing, well I couldn’t hear it, but I could see it. He quickly turned serious again and began speaking to me and I watched his lips, then answered, “Pork chops.”
I could tell from his expression I wasn’t even close. He appeared to be speaking louder, so I tried harder and gave another answer, “It’s in the refrigerator.”
Then he made the universal sign for cuckoo by twirling his finger next to his head and then pointing at me. I could see he was getting frustrated, so I asked him to repeat it one more time. It looked like he was saying a K word. “Do you want a kiss?” I asked.
With that he lifted my headphones and said, “NO – I want the car keys. What are you deaf or something?” Concern clouded his eyes. Not for what he said, but because he was afraid.
The fear he exhibited melted my heart and I removed the headphones. He suffers from anxiety disorder and I am his world of normal. Living with someone with disorders is difficult, but over time you stop thinking about it so much and treat everything as neutral. For my son, Jon, if anything changes about me it affects him. If I was to become deaf his life would spin out of “his” normal range. In addition, it is a long process for him to adjust to any change. This experience offered me a chance to explain that deafness was not happening, but if it did we both would learn sign language, write notes, and of course, he would have to learn not to spook me.
He finally put on the headphones but after a very short time said he’d rather listen to music. He’s also ADD.