As a result of Meniere’s Disease, I have suffered quite severe deafness over the
years. It is not ‘simple’ deafness either, if, indeed there is any such thing. Rather
than general loss of high or low frequencies, which, I imagine, are fairly easily
remedied with digital hearing aids, MD causes random destruction of the hair cells
that pick up air vibration, via the bones of the middle ear, that the brain turns
into usable sounds. The result for me – and the same probably applies to most MD
deafness – is large amounts of distortion and fragmentation. Sounds are never clear.
There are always little shrieks and whistles attached to any sound, often great degrees
of muffling. It often sounds like the old days when we used to have to listen to
Radio Luxembourg using a poorly tuned valve radio, where the signal would fade in
and out, with frequent whoops and shrieks as if the tuner knob could never stick
on the right setting. And listening via a poor telephone connection at that. Despite
the best service from either NHS or private audiologists, and the most delicate and
sensitive digital hearing aids, we all have to accept that our hearing is irreversibly
damaged. We’ll never again hear our children or spouses speak clearly to us. It is
a life of constant effort and concentration.
For me, one of the biggest and saddest losses was the ability to hear music clearly.
I can still hear most of the sounds through my hearing aid, but it is out of tune,
discordant, and usually plain unpleasant. A cacophony of sound, and it is normally
better to accept this and not make the effort. A sad loss indeed.
I have seen recent reports of a deaf woman attempting to sue the promoter of a concert
because she couldn’t hear the lyrics clearly, and an interpreter wasn’t provided.
What on earth did she expect? Sometimes you just have to accept that there are some
things you can no longer do, rather than expect everything to be provided for you.
If she is deaf, why on earth did she waste money on buying tickets for something
she should have known would be less than successful for her? We all have to learn
to deal with disappointment or our own limitations. If we are deaf, we don’t simply
have the ‘right’ to expect perfect performances.