[In the theater, only a ghost light is still lit. (see ACT III NEW RULES)
In the near darkness, a figure sits with legs over the edge of the stage]
House lights, please…..
Well folks, ………its been awhile.
5 months, 190,000 souls and George Floyd later, here we are.
Maybe a conversation is in order.
Obviously my quest to hear didn’t stop..just the narrative about the journey lost it’s voice.
It has just seemed to me that given the magnitude of the struggles this country is facing…..no, that’s not right…it’s “the struggle each of us is facing”….this is a very individual time of crisis. While we witness daily, inexcusable acts and words, THE cardinal sin in America today might be silence. But this is not the place for that discussion.
[Pause, quiet breathing]
I hate it when I interrupt my own thoughts…
What I mean to say is that a story about my hearing loss and my efforts to restore it …is pretty inconsequential beside the many stories that need to be told right now. That’s not meant to be self- effacing ..it just feels like the truth.
So with the justification that this might provide you a small diversion and me a reconnection, let me relate a bit of an update on my hearing quest and an odd quirk of the pandemic. It won’t take long.
Act III was early April and I am now 10 months since my surgery for the implant.
Unequivocally, the Cochlear Implant has changed my life. Prior to last October, it had become crushingly difficult to function. Most of what was going on was lost to me. I wasn’t one on the beneficiaries of the gene therapy trial. Only with the help of hearing aids, remote microphones and the efforts of people around me was I able to participate at all. And it was getting noticeably worse.
That’s not the case today. I can’t hear everything but I can hear most things. By “hear” I mean comprehend the sounds in my life: Conversation, birds, noises and a bit of music. Unfortunately, music is still pretty elusive. Hearing music is much better than it was in April but it doesn’t sound like “music”.
Some of that might be on me for not putting in quite enough work. Have you noticed that it’s been difficult “to do the work” in 2020?
But joyfully, I can function, participate….. Fairly easily, as long as my batteries don’t die.
Its pretty wonderful and amazing.
Now, the pandemic quirk I mentioned. Think about it. Whether actively or subconsciously nearly all people with hearing loss read lips. And that brings us to those life saving, perhaps nation saving masks that are there in our life every day. No more lip reading.
I can hear pretty well now, but I absolutely had and have relied on lip reading to help understanding.
Complicating it further, everybody sounds a bit like they are mumbling behind the masks.
It would be pretty hard to overstate the setback it has been for over 30 million Americans with hearing loss.
As if Covid and the social climate weren’t isolating enough, masks have further separated those of us with hearing loss from the rest of you nice folks.
In response, there have been developed clear masks to try to enable lip reading. The first ones have been pretty clunky and hard to wear. More recent versions are more comfortable and provide better protection. They are more expensive ..of course.. and not very widespread.
Ironically the people who DO seem to have them are the hard of hearing….but to be of any help, they need YOU to wear it not them. If you are in a setting where someone offers you a clear mask to wear…try to accommodate. It is probably someone who would really appreciate being able to read your lips….and see your smile.
I’m going to go now…thanks for the chance to talk.
Take good care of one another out there, please.
In the meantime, while we wait for the time when all the actors will be back on stage, if something interesting happens….. I’ll come back out.
Can we dim the house please?
[Theater fades back to darkness, while the ghost light persists]