Sounds Of Silence

Although my hearing loss often makes me feel alone, the rapidly growing number of hard-of-hearing Americans suggests that’s not really the case.
January 2014

My bedtime routine is probably much like yours: I brush my teeth, change into pajamas, and pour a glass of water. But there is one difference. Just before going to bed, I remove my hearing aids—and the audible world drops away.

In those few minutes before my eyes adjust to the darkened room, I am a sensory shut-in. There, in the quiet blackness, the fears creep in. Is my hearing getting worse? Will my career, my marriage, even my sanity, fade along with my hearing? Will it abandon me completely one day?

But even in that inky void of dread, there is hope. And I am thankful to be able to grab hold of it. Hearing loss is unlike many disabilities in one important respect: new research, spurred by a growing number of Americans with hearing loss, suggests that at some point in my lifetime the disorder may be reversible. At night, in bed, as I say “I love you” to my wife and strain to hear her reply, that knowledge gives me hope.