What I’ve Lost

As a result of hearing loss that I’ve developed over the years, there are a few things missing from my world that are likely present in yours. What are they?

First, here’s what do I have that you do not: A loud, high-pitch ringing that is unceasing. I hear it 24 hours a day, without end. I have pretty close to state-of-the-art hearing aids to compensate for this. They’re made by Siemens, go inside my ears. Most people don’t notice them, which is exactly how I like it.

Next year, I’ll probably move to Bluetooth ones that will let me talk on the phone and hear my iPod without plugging myself in. That, I’m guessing, will be totally awesome.

Anyway, one of the things that people don’t recognize is that I can hear quite well almost 90% of the sounds around me. I can hear most frequencies fine, but here’s the real concern: the frequencies I have lost are the most subtle ones in human speech.

You may never have realized that there is very little difference to the human ear between cat and hat, but I do. All the differences between C and H are around the frequency I don’t have. So I confuse words a lot.

I compensate for this with context. A cat doesn’t go on your head; a hat does. Context is deeply important to me because it helps me make sense of what’s being said to me every day. Environmental noise like the ones that happen in bars, on the street, or in restaurants can be exhausting, because I need to concentrate to hear properly.

Another thing that I miss out on is stuff like birds, crickets, or other natural sounds. Those things, I really miss. There’s a lot of subtlety that I don’t catch because of the way I hear. Maybe one day technology will help me out with getting all this stuff back; might be a while, but it’ll be worth it.

Not sure why I decided to write about this today, but I never have before, so it’s kind of refreshing. Sometimes it’s interesting to look at life from someone else’s point of view. Maybe you learned something. Anyway, see you next time.





8 responses to “What I’ve Lost”

  1. Whitney Avatar

    This is fascinating to me, because James has tons of ear infections as a little boy, and for a long time, he could hear, just not clearly- like he was under water, because of all the fluid in his ears. Even though his hearing is fine now, it’s the subtle differences in sound and speech that trip him up in pronunciation, closing off the end of words, etc. because he missed learning to hear and incorporate those sounds very early on in his life.

    While he’s learned to work around these issues, it’s constantly amazing to me how deficits in one of the senses makes you work harder to make up for it, and how when other people understand this, they can also help adapt, minimizing the overall impact of the problem.

    The bluetooth hearing aids sound cool- keep me in the loop on that one- I know a bunch of people who could use them.

  2. J.C. Hutchins Avatar

    This was beautifully written, and resonant.

    You’ve shared what you’ve lost. I’m curious to know what you’ve gained.

  3. Chris Lamothe Avatar

    I feel for you. I also suffer from serious tinnitus day in, day out. When I’m in the middle of the wilderness late at night, staring at the stars, what I notice the most is eiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.

  4. Ellen Rossano Avatar
    Ellen Rossano

    Thank you for sharing that…I am diabetic and never realized that it could affect the nerves in my ears. I have a some hearing loss in my right ear, and I notice that I am leaning in more and turning my head when I am in a group. I have to ask people to repeat their names more often, and I get anxious because I don’t want them to think I wasn’t paying attention to them when they were talking to me.
    Thank goodness technology improves every day – hopefully you will get new and better stuff all the time.
    Now, when we finally meet, I will have a little insight in to communicating better with you, and excuse me if I lean in a little so I don’t miss what you are saying! Hope we meet soon – that Brogan kid is signing all the books, and I need yours to make mine complete!

  5. Lynette Young Avatar

    Amazing of you to share this, thank you. For whatever reason you were compelled to write about this now, I’m glad. It reminds me that everyone has hurdles to jump, whether physical, emotional, or educational – and what counts is what you choose to do at that point. I have admired you for years and think you are just at the beginning of your awesomeness. Thanks again for sharing.

    1. Julien Avatar

      Thanks Lynette, I really appreciate that. 🙂

  6. CT Moore Avatar

    In regards to telling the difference between “cat” and “hat,” I was going to quip that “context is king,” but then I scrolled down the page and saw that you already beat me to that in an earlier post.

    Because you deprived me of my wit, that way, the next time we’re having a drink, I’m totally going to f**k with you by mumbling, rhyming, and doing whatever else I can think of that makes me a jerk. It’s not my fault, though. My mother held me too much as a child, so now I act up to push everyone else away.

    On a related note, my a**hole friend shot me in the head, right behind my left ear, with a high velocity pellet rifle when I was 15, and that ear rang for about 6 weeks afterwards. Now, to this day, the f**ker just starts up ringing out of no where for a few days on end. It’s really f**king annoying.

    It doesn’t mean that I can at all relate to you, but it does make for a cool story when I’m trying to show off how “tuff” I am, so I can’t pass up an opportunity to tell it.

    After the surgeon dug the pellet out of my head, he wouldn’t even let me keep it – something to do with sending it to the lab for tests. So I guess that that’s something I’ve lost.

    Hey look at that, I can kind of relate to you after all…

  7. Chel Avatar

    One day I hope technology does help you (and well me) get it all back.

    That will be a beautiful day.

    Can I poke you for a link to the bluetooth aids? Thrilled with the idea that this is coming to the market.

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