‘Hearing Loss’ confirmed



“…acute hearing loss…”

“…likely permanent…”

“…quite significant…”

Acute hearing loss…acute hearing loss…acute hearing loss…

It didn’t matter what else the audiologist said. It was those three words that got stuck in my head, bouncing around inside my skull, distracting me from all else. It’s a stupid term for Daniel’s case. Hearing loss. ‘Loss’ implies it was there to begin with.

The audiologist had suspected an ominous test report when Daniel hadn’t stirred even when loud sounds were played through the cord fitted snugly into his ear. It was loud even to me, and I was sitting three feet away. To Daniel, they would have been very loud.

That is, they should have been.

Diagnostic testing was difficult and long because Daniel’s a restless and noisy sleeper. The test equipment had to keep being paused and reset, waiting for him to resettle. But from the results that could be ascertained, there was definitely a problem. It wasn’t just fluid in his ear from the birth. (See, sometimes paranoid pessimists are right.)

I do remember one silver-lining remark making it through to me: children with hearing loss in only one ear typically do just fine in their language development. It may be that Daniel’s condition is no great impairment, practically speaking.

We may have to come back for further testing of his ‘good’ ear, just to be sure it’s good enough to compensate for the other’s lack. Daniel’s restlessness today made it difficult to have done much testing on that ear, so we don’t know its full range. Depending on the results, he may have to have a hearing aid.

The audiologist said that he’d talk with his boss about the findings of today’s tests, to determine what’s necessary and where we should go from here.

That all happened just a few hours ago. I’m still a bit stunned.

I know it could be worse. At least one ear works. At least, when I tell my son I love him, he’ll hear me. And as a condition he was born with, it’s something he’ll always know. Is that better than hearing loss later down the track? You can’t miss what you never had, right?

It saddens me though, because I find great joy in the spine-tingling effects of powerful acoustics in music. The Phantom of the Opera overture played from vinyl and through good quality speakers. The Canadian Tenors splitting into their individual harmonic sequences. Sounds one needs stereophonic capability to fully appreciate. But my baby will only hear in monophony. If I listen to the Phantom’s overture with one ear blocked, it has all the fulfilment of a Nokia ringtone. Is that what the world will be like, to him?

And how does this change things? Does it at all? Will it/need it impact our parenting? On the one hand, I don’t want to give Daniel ‘special treatment’ as he grows, that Timmy would construe as favouritism; unfairly coddling Daniel because he’s the poor little deaf child. But I don’t want to go to the other extreme either, where in my efforts to treat them both equally, I callously don’t make allowances for Daniel’s challenges.

I’ve never heard anything about challenges of a deaf-in-one-ear child. I don’t think many people would. The only acknowledged categories are ‘deaf’ and ‘not deaf.’ And since Daniel has a functioning left ear, that makes him ‘not deaf’. So then for me to be upset about it seems ungrateful; I think surely others would discount my concern with, ‘At least he’s got the other ear,’ and believe I have nothing to complain about; believe I’m selfish for making a big deal out of my son having hearing loss in only one ear, when other mums struggle to communicate with children who can’t hear at all.

Maybe it is selfish of me. But it’s a realistic selfishness that I can’t apologise for having. I’ve just discovered my son is half deaf. I’m allowed to be disappointed, aren’t I? Upset that he won’t experience and enjoy music the way I do? Confused about what this means for the family and how we need to work with it? Yes, I’m selfish. I even selfishly cried.

And to make it all a little bit worse: I discover this news about my son when there is no chocolate in the house. None. Not an M&M on the premises (not even the orange one on the floor under my desk — Timmy found that yesterday) or a Peanut Slab.

I take solace, then, in a cup of coffee. With extra sugar. Because I’m entitled.


(3) Comments

  • Christine Black
    24 Sep 2013

    Cry all you like I say. People say dumb things when they are trying to cheer you up. When I was having twins and bleeding heaps someone said “At least you’ll probably have one baby” SOD OFF is about the only real response. We want our babies to have everything. We don’t want to hear that anything will impair them from enjoying life. We want the best and most people would agree that hearing in both ears is preferable. I am sorry to hear that news. It is true that he will still function and enjoy life and with a Mum already considering what impact it will have and how best to support him he will be fine. Your boys will have different needs all through life, treat them individually as to what they need and it will go well. Wish I lived close by and could drop off chocolate.

  • Aunty Dukkah
    24 Sep 2013

    Oh hunny bun. Our genetic line just can’t catch a break. But I reckon you’ll be an awesome mum to Daniel! He’ll know you love him. And I think you’re right, he generally won’t miss things he hasn’t known. I think he’ll still be able to appreciate music. It’s a world of contrasts. I remember how amazing I thought PS2 graphics were… they only seem low quality now because I’ve seen what’s better. He’ll still be able to hear the swellings of the orchestra, the rumble of the foreboding bass and enjoy the smile on your face. And of course you’re allowed to be upset, you want a wonderful life for your son, and to protect him from hardship. I’d be worried if you weren’t upset. X Love you lots, my lovely.

  • Mrs. W
    24 Sep 2013

    As parents, everyone wants their kid to have everything, and the thought that they will miss out on something is distressing. It just seems so unfair – after all, there is nothing the kid did to deserve missing out on something.

    That said, as parents, we must work with what we have and help in the ways that we can for our children to find the things that they love. For Daniel it might not be the nuances of music (although he might have a particular love for percussion instruments as they have a “feeling” and not just a sound to them). He might love the visual arts. He might love language and the written word. He might be exceptionally athletic or compassionate. Our imperfections make us human – and our challenges often serve to strengthen us and to improve upon the people we are. You are discovering Daniel, this is part of who he is, at least you know.

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