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Monday, 24 April 2017

Conversation stopper

This morning, like every morning I wake up to silence. We usually have a hug and then Jackie will make a “T” sign with her fingers and goes to put the kettle on. We sit in silence on our balcony drinking our first reviving cup of English breakfast tea and perhaps exchange a smile for the new day. Jackie no longer tries to make conversation or even a chance remark as it will be lost on me, and by the time I hook up my headphones and iphone the moment will have passed, so we sit contemplating, together, but apart.
A few months ago the first thing I would do when we sat drinking our morning cup of tea would be to fire up the iphone, don my headphones and say “Buenos dios”. That would be the signal to Jackie to know I was able to hear her and we could chit chat, small talk to start of the day.
As time has gone on my “hearing aid” has become less and less effective as my hearing diminishes and the distortion and tinnitus conspire to mask even the thin audio that my iphone pumps into my ears. So I’m apprehensive and reluctant to discover what new depths of isolation I may face today. Sometimes I’m surprised when I turn on the world to find that there has been a slight improvement. There’s clarity, and the distortion has disappeared, even the tinnitus has subsided and we can almost have a conversation.
Conversation is such an enriching part of a relationship, of friendships, although like John Lennon once wrote in his lyric to the song Julia, half of what I say is meaningless. But perhaps a lot of what passes for meaningless is part of the rich tapestry of life. We’re social beings by nature and gossip is one of those inconsequential bits of life that I yearn for, the quip, the witty aside, a passing remark that these days I miss. It’s delivered too fast, from out of nowhere, and often out of context. It throws me as I’m having to concentrate on the flow of an indistinct thin and tinny sound that constitutes a voice.
The days are empty of these moments between us, and so we involve ourselves in the day to day things to do in a wordless world, with a smile and a gesture but without words to plug the space between us.
Because I don’t yet have a proper hearing aid and have to rely on my iphone there are times when the battery has run out and it needs to be charged. A while back I could still cup my ears, if Jackie wanted to tell me something, and I would understand her, as long as she spoke into the ear that was working that day. These days even that strategy seems to be failing as the words break up, distort, and lead to a frustration for both of us.
It's impossible to predict whether or not I’ll be able to hear and understand especially when I could make out the words yesterday, why not today. But that seem to be the nature of Meniere’s, it’s an unpredictable lurch from comprehension to utter garble. Even an hour can make all the difference so the frustration that we both have to deal with is to say the least, trying, sometimes it can bring us close to tears.