Friday, September 23, 2016

September 23, 2016--Creaking (Concluded)

So yesterday I went to see Dr. Gary Schwartzberg, the audiologist, to pick up my hearing "devices" and to have my first "adjustment."

"Look, they're the same color as your hair," Rona continued to do her best to sound upbeat, "Silver gray. As I said the other day, they're cool."

"It is impossible for someone my age to be, much less look cool." I mumbled again but this time loud enough to be heard.

"Again, as I said," the Dr. S broke in, clearly not having set aside a whole day to deal with my ambivalences, "As I said, have high expectations. You're about to see how amazing these babies are."
Babies again, I thought.

"Let me help you." He slid his chair closer to me, "First let's hook this over your ear," he did so, "Then push this tube gently into your ear canal." Again he did so, "And then, last, place this wire thus in the curve of your outer ear. It's sort of like a spring that keeps the device from accidentally falling out."

"Probably, in my case, down the toilet."

"The insurance, included in the fee, would cover that." I wasn't sure if he was humoring me. Again, in 30 years he's seen it all.

Then he did the same thing with my left ear.

With them both in place what I felt was similar to using earbuds when listening to an iPod or movie on an airplane. In other words, I felt almost nothing. "But," I said, "I'm hearing even less right now than before you installed these babies," I reached toward them, "I'm afraid these aren't helping. I can, can't I, return them within 90 days and get all my money back?"

"Yes, there is that guarantee, but . . ."

"What's the fastest time in the Guinness Book of Records for someone to turn in their devices? I think I might set it if I give them back to you right now."

"I'm not surprised but . . ."

Looking toward Rona, I said back over my shoulder to him, "Forgive me for having told you so. I knew they wouldn't work for me."

I wondered what happened to my begrudged optimism.

"If you'd only give me a moment to turn these on," he said, smiling, "They won't begin to work until I've done that. I'm about to do it wirelessly through the computer. It's . . ."

Embarrassed that I had been so impetuous, so out of control, now that I had calmed down a bit, I confessed, "I feel like such a baby. I really do want to give them a chance. You've been encouraging me to have high expectations. To tell you the truth, I thought you were overselling these." I tapped the device in my right ear. "But more than that I didn't want to raise my hopes and then have it turn out to be disappointing like my father when . . ."

"Can we please leave your father out of this," finally exasperated, Rona said, "That's ancient history and . . ."

"My father," I said gasping, "You . . . I mean you . . . You . . . Your . . . I don't . . ."

"What's going on, honey?" Rona leaned toward me, concerned about my incoherent stammering, likely thinking I was having an ischemic stroke.

With that I burst into tears, but despite my sobbing, I could hear Dr. S say to Rona that he had just activated the devices.

Amazingly, so instantly I could hear more audibly than I could remember. I said, "Your voice . . . it's as it was when we met more that 35 years ago. When we were so much younger and all of life stretched before us. Listen to me--I'm talking in clich├ęs." I took a deep breath, "How I loved your voice then but I haven't heard it that way for what feels like many years. Many. Too many."

I sat with my thoughts while staring at the computer screen and the vivid graph of my hearing deficits. "Can I get up?" I asked the doctor, "I want to hold onto Rona," who by then, softly, quietly, also was sobbing.

Somehow a box of tissues materialized. I took a few, even hearing the sound of them being pulled from the box. "So this has happened before?" I asked, now smiling through tears.

"As you said, I've seen it all. Often, people do have the same reaction. It's almost as if they're hearing for the first time. In your case . . . . Well, that's what the tissues are for."

*   *   *

Later, back home, I went from room to room as if visiting for the first time. I wanted to listen to the house.

The floor crackled like exploding popcorn. Lying down to test the sound of the bed, I heard more creaking but this time with no popping. It was softer, rounder. Through the bedroom window I could hear the songs of the first birds that appear at dusk. And the water in the bay, gently lapping the shoreline were sounds I was hearing for the first time. Using the toilet, which I had to do, was like producing a splattering cascade over river rocks.

I couldn't believe I was getting sophomorically poetic about peeing in the toilet!

Crying again, Rona reached out to me.

We stood there by the window, clinging to each other as across the water the sun completed its work for the day.

Still in contemplative mode, I asked, "Do you think the sun makes a sound as it sets?"

"Maybe you'll know in a week after the next adjustment."

See Kanye West's Right Ear

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Anonymous Gala Girl said...

LOVED this. Made me cry too!

September 26, 2016  

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