WHAT if you were to go blind one day? It must suck, living in a dark world, where colours and shapes slowly become just memories with each passing day. Not being able to see your loved ones, or not knowing what a new addition to the family or a new friend may look like. Suddenly, every step you take counts as you begin to rely more on your hearing, physical touching, sense of smell and well, gut feeling. Many times, when I lay awake in the dark, I think of the desolation that comes with losing sight. Just what if...it's possible.
Then, in early August, I woke up in the morning and two hours later, I felt hearing on the left side slowly slide shut like a pull-down window. In the following weeks, I was diagnosed with otosclerosis, a rare condition in which a faulty middle-ear bone leads to hearing loss; in severe cases like mine, where there's both conductive and sensironeural deafness, quite permanently too.
I've suddenly lost more than 90% of hearing on the left side, but strangely, all I felt was blindness. It was like I see but I don't see till I hear, and this caused me a lot of panic when I was in the outdoors and public places. With one side hearing, I have no sense of sound direction. I can't tell if the phone is ringing in the bedroom or living room when I'm in the kitchen. The sense of fullness I have on the affected side makes my head heavy, and I become tired much faster by just processing all those sounds around me in one, good ear. Sometimes, the sounds get distorted and human voices are submerged by louder/ higher frequencies. It's made worse by those violent headaches, which I fear. By far, I'm lucky that my overall balance is still fine.
The tinnitus deserves a post of its own. I have ringing in my affected ear 24/7. Pretty loud. Sometimes in high frequencies too. It's a miracle its existence doesn't bother me when I'm sleeping. There were a couple of times when I woke up feeling scared and shaken. I heard loud explosions in my head just when I was relaxed enough to fall asleep. That was some scary shit but another friend with hearing loss, described the same experience to me. It must be a part of it all then.
It's a been a few months now. The early months were a torture and I spent weeks wondering about living the rest of my life with it. It seemed impossible, to live in a world of distorted sounds with a heavy face and constant headaches. That was then. The above still applies to me but I'm just adjusting to the situation better. I focus more to listen, I'm keeping my balance and I don't let the tinnitus bother me. For the first time in months, I was able to sit with a party of friends, sip a cold beer with shisha in one hand, listen to their laughter and chatter, with light music on the background. I was truly happy for the hope.
Now, I've forgotten how it feels to hear from both sides. It must be really loud for you people with the full stereo on :)