The Elephant in the Room

Batteries not included.

Most of the time when you think of an elephant in the room, it’s the thing that everyone is trying to avoid. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not avoiding a cochlear implant. What I’m doing is trying to avoid thinking about surgery on Tuesday.

The thought of surgery doesn’t really bother me. I mean, it did bother me, but this morning after another emotionally wobbly, meltdown, conniption, and mild apoplectic fit, I realized I should talk myself down from the ledge I put myself on.

My self-talk these days has become very…pragmatic. For those of you following along at home, regaining one of your senses is a welcome gift – a modern miracle but I’d rather not have lost it in the first place. Even for the deaf, the climb to hearing and comprehension is daunting. I haven’t had a conversation on the phone with my husband since 2003. The last movie we saw in a theatre was “The Incredibles.” I finally figured out what it was about a week later when Andreas bought a bluray and we watched with closed captioning. Now I have to un-learn closed captioning? No one said anything about doing things the hard but better way? I like the comfortable easy way I’ve learned to cope with.

Yes. I’m having an acute case of “I want change, but I don’t want to change.” That voice appears to be disconnected from the one that wants hearing. If you’re having problems with voices, do what Oprah does: get everyone to talk it out.

My self-talk goes like this: “Caroline. Calm down. You’re going to have the most sophisticated medical hearing device on the planet installed IN YOUR HEAD because THAT’S HOW IT WORKS.” Andreas keeps saying my implant will be “installed.” I’ve failed to come up with a better word. Yes, it’s being implanted, but that’s a lyrical tautology. It’s being installed. It’s thoroughly unromantic, but it’s a great adventure.

I’d tell Isaac Asimov or Aldous Huxley what it’s like to hear like a computer hears. J.K. Rowling wouldn’t be a bad chat either – cochlear implants are kind of magical. Of course, none of these conversations would work for two reasons: 1) it would be a wasted opportunity until after activation day (Ms. Rowling, if you’re listening, come on over for a visit and we’ll talk about the magic of hearing). I’d really love that conversation with J.K. Rowling. Then again, I’d really love a conversation with anyone I could hear.

That conversation in my head comes and goes but when it’s on, it always drags on. After some introspection, worry, and self-doubt – when it’s time to attend to the world again – I just ask myself, “Can you live with a few days of discomfort to have a lifetime of hearing more.” Well, duh. Cranial neurosurgery is no match for my desire to hear more (and maybe one day, more than normal – my external processor will always be improved and upgraded). Andreas said something last night: “Your hearing will never grow old. Mine will. I may have to rely on you to hear for me one day.” For a second I thought I heard a noise from the other room – I thought I heard the tables turning.

When they say a cochlear implant is a life-changing moment, they don’t mention it changes everyone’s life around you. Thank God.