When I first was coping with my sudden hearing loss, I had a number of conferences. I thought I was coping really well. I was trying to take care of myself, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, trying to eat properly. I gave my talks, carefully walking from my room to the conference rooms and back.
I was always mystified at the elevators. All the elevators arrived on the left.
Then it hit me. I’d lost my ability to locate sound, my radar. With single-sided hearing, I still don’t know how to locate the origin of a sound. With stereo sound, we know how. We turn towards the sound origin. But, for me, all sounds originate on the left, because that’s the only ear I hear out of.
Well, that was a jolt. Pushed me right back into chaos for a few days. And then I realized that if I’d lived for a few weeks without knowing the origin of sounds, I could probably live a few more decades. It wouldn’t be easy. They put the damn elevator lights too high up and indented so us short people who are vestibularly challenged have a tendency to lose our balance when we look up, but we can look up to see which light is lit. I know where to position myself so I can see the lights.
I have learned where to position myself at a dinner party at a rectangular table (outside right-most seat, so I hear the most people). At a round table, I tell the person on my right that I can’t hear him or her, and please knock on my arm.
I have a “hearing aid” that allows me to hear in somewhat noisy situations, but does not work in really noisy situations, such as lunch at a conference. The background noise is just too much for me to hear the person next to me, even if he or she was to wear the microphone. And, because the earpiece is larger than a normal hearing aid earpiece, it’s not that comfortable to wear for more than an hour or two.
So, I am learning that although I hear all sound on the left, not all elevators really arrive on the left. I just think they do.
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