Sudden Silence – Lyn’s story
For 55 years I had perfect hearing. Virtually overnight, I lost 100% of it.
In the first 55 years of my life, I’d rarely thought about my hearing, or balance. I’d seen people ‘doing’ sign language, and had even leant the alphabet letters of signing at school, but I’d never even met a deaf person.
At age 55 I became the victim of a ‘mysterious’ illness, with doctors only being able to diagnose as “probably a virus”. This illness was extremely sudden, severe and a few days later, caused me to lose all hearing over a matter of hours.
I’d spent my entire adult life as a teacher and school Principal and loved very day of that time.With no hearing whatsoever left, I was no longer able to continue my profession, so had to resign from my much loved calling.
So almost overnight, I lost all hearing and much of my balance, but more crucially, I’d lost most of my ability to communicate. To communicate with others, understand what they were saying to me, and to those around me. I was unable to access huge amounts of information, particularly the day to day ‘chit chat’ that had kept me up to date with what was happening around me, and I had my options for entertainment severely limited.
It was a dramatic and traumatic change of direction in my life, because I could no longer hear.
At the time, I was fortunate that technology was beginning to open up some options. Emails and modified telephones helped greatly, as did the very slowly increasing amount of TV and cinema captioning.
Certainly, I have been able to find various ways to help circumvent my lack of hearing, but the sudden loss of it, certainly changed my life dramatically. Unfortunately, people like me, who’ve not grown up deaf or have been part of a Deaf community, find themselves almost totally isolated in terms of communication with the only real option being anything visual – mainly print, and attempts to read lips. Unfortunately, deafness is an invisible disability – no, let’s be realistic and call it a handicap, because it is, especially when it comes suddenly after 55 years!
In my case, a cochlear implant was not successful as my auditory nerves were destroyed. Services and options available to the Deaf community, whose first language is Auslan, are not realistic for the late deaf, who have very little access to captioning or other appropriate services.
The wider community has no comprehension whatsoever, of what total silence is like, and one can only wish that some of our politicians would accept the challenge to go without hearing just for one day (though they would be also missing out on the distressing and ever present curse of Tinnitus that some of us experience as well.)
So, let’s spread the word to Break the Sound Barrier any way we can and that Hearing Health is a HUGE issue right across the community, and especially for those of us who do not, and can not, hear.