Anachan's Corner

One woman's journey through marriage, motherhood, and the classroom…

The Sound of Silence

Written By: Anachan - Feb• 21•17

No, this isn’t about the Simon and Garfunkle song, although I really liked that song in college and even had the sheet music, long since lost in one move or other. This is about sound . . . and silence.

Almost two years ago, my eldest daughter, serving in the U. S. Navy, had a headache and went to the doctor on base, who prescribed for her a course of Naproxen. She took it in accordance with the directions given her and, three days later, found herself completely deaf. Tests since then appear to show that her ears are in perfect working order, and signals are being sent to her brain. But there, the link is broken: The brain is not interpreting the signals as sound.

She has had to learn to live surrounded by silence. Because this happened when she was 20 years old, she has muscle memory for speech and so can talk with people. Because she learned something about lip reading while working on stage productions in college, she picked up further skills quickly. But she hears no music or birds chirping or even fire alarms. (Yes, that happened once in her dorm: A fire happened on an upstairs floor, and she slept through the entire alarm.)

There is the chance that, given the fact the problem is a chemical one in the brain, her brain will self-correct, and her hearing will be restored. But as time goes on, the chances of that happening become more and more slim.

When I think of that, my complaint seems petty and trivial. For the past four months, I have lived my world with no silence. One day, I realized I heard ringing in my ears–rather loud ringing in my ears–and since then, it has never stopped. Some days, it is louder, and some days, it is not as loud. Some days, there is enough noise around me that I do not notice it much. But in those moments I have always treasured, the moments of quiet peace, when I would try to look deep inside and ponder or create, read or study, there it is, intruding. And I can’t help but listen to it and wonder and worry, just a little.

I’ve been told that there isn’t much that people can do about this kind of condition. Perhaps it, like my crevassed tongue which denies me comfortable access to the spicy foods I loved for years, is just another inconvenience I will have to learn to live with.

After all, it could be worse. I can still hear voices speaking to me. I can hear birds chirp or caw, and I can hear the various calls of the cats as they express disapproval, contentment, or pride in themselves. And I can still listen to music, even if the purity of that music is tainted by a constant tone which may be off key.

Given the choice of living with constant intruding sound or constant silence, I realize it is preferable to put up with the sound. But sometimes, I would like to experience a few moments of silence, for old times’ sake.

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