The Sound of Silence

As a nod to the day, check out this blog entry on the guy whose feast day today actually is.

Otherwise, let me thank you for any prayers/healing thoughts, Reader.  Recovery continues, and as of Wednesday, there is sound.  Having been functionally deaf for three weeks, there is now a world on my left side.  And it is LOUD.

My hearing isn’t completely back, not by a long shot—anything I do hear sounds as though it’s coming from an echo chamber on Mars funnelled through one of those tooth radios from spy films.  This is coupled with the continuing cavernous noises of the healing going on inside my head and a fun mid-level whine that never quite fades.  I’m hearing internally and externally, simultaneously, in the same ear; I have no idea how that’s even possible, but it makes for some interesting directional challenges when someone calls my name.

Getting hearing back (and going through this whole process, really) has been a pretty intense excuse to take stock of how I interpret the world.  When I was in college, a friend of mine once challenged me to rank my senses—which would you give up first, which would you hold onto unto death.  I have no memory of how we got there, but I had no hesitation in my answer:  smell, taste, and touch are absolutely dispensible, and if I absolutely had to choose, hearing would take a backseat to seeing every day.

My friend was floored.  “Are you sure?” he asked, and I said yep; I didn’t want to lose any, of course, not least because they’re good for warning signs (this is hot, stop touching; this milks smells sour, don’t drink; this food is doctored, don’t eat; that car is honking at you, don’t walk), but seeing is where it’s at.  He shook his head.  “What about the smell of freshly baked bread?” he asked.  “What about the sensation of your love’s fingers on your forehead?  The first sip of just-squeezed orange juice?  The opening notes of a symphony?”

I began to see what he was getting at; sure, in a visual-heavy profession like mine (I was, at that time, still convinced I was going to go be a hotshot medieval scholar/professor, and that really doesn’t work out as well for the blind), sight would indeed rank highest.  But the others turned existing into living.  Of course, then I got frustrated with him for undermining his own original question because you really can’t rank them, but that’s how three a.m. conversations went in college.

I alluded last week to my having to pull out of musical endeavors while my ear heals, but with the return of pieces of my hearing I’m beginning to understand how all-encompassing this sense is.  It wasn’t just choir and bells I was missing—when I drove away from work on Wednesday evening, I could hear the cars passing mine.  (It was a really neat thing, actually, and I was super excited to sit at a stoplight and just listen to various engines and tires.)  I hear the shuffling step of my coworkers passing my office door.  I hear that there are sometime two or more distinct conversations going on around me—and don’t get me wrong, this is all still really difficult to parse out because of the radio-on-Mars thing, but it is so very cool to listen to all of this, to tap into the hum of life.  It’s also incredibly exhausting; like I said, the world is loud.  Phones are incredibly painful, and high pitches?  Forget it.

This isn’t one of those stop-and-smell-the-roses moments, mostly because I’m not that kind of inspirational but also because I don’t really like the scent of roses.  But it is a marvelling in the crazy awesome complicatedness that is our physical connection to the world.  I will be the first to tell you that I veer into an almost Manichean view of the world (shy of the true heresy, of course), but that’s part of why I’m so amused that I am Christian.  This is an earthy faith—God put us into a physical world, whatever your opinions about who Adam and Eve “actually” were.  Then He came and hung out in that physical world.  And when His people describe what Heaven is, it’s a pretty earthy place.

So recovery is still slow and annoying and very, very painful.  And it’s not going to get much easier for several weeks yet—but it’s a front row seat to how incredibly holistic this body thing is.  Each piece works with another; yes, we learned that the leg bone’s connected to the knee bone, but I’m beginning to see how that really works.  The hearing’s connected to the feeling’s connected to the taste’s connected to the smell’s informed by the sight’s encompassed by this body.  After three weeks of nothing, I can hear, sort of, because my body has decided it’s ready to try that again.  How cool is that?

So of course I’ve been listening to ridiculous 90s rap today.  Because there’s nothing to welcome partial healing like terrible lyrics from men in parachute pants.

“This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“‘”You will indeed hear but never understand,
    and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
    and with their ears they can barely hear,
    and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
    and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
    and turn, and I would heal them.’

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.”  (Matthew 13:13-16, ESV)

7 thoughts on “The Sound of Silence

  1. […] that sits sullenly in her femur, spine, and chest.  I myself am gradually going deaf because my body cannot recognize the way it’s supposed to work in order to hear.  I can’t believe in a […]


  2. […] with last year’s surgery, it’s now a game of rediscovering what it is to hear, which is just bizarre. […]


  3. […] prayers—covet them, really—over the next couple of months.  More health issues with my ear, so prayers of healing and patience are absolutely […]


  4. […] the right answers first.  I had a day-long doctor’s appointment to deal with the continuing issues of my ear, and learned that I’ll likely have to repeat one of the most unpleasant surgeries […]


  5. […] mentioned to you before, Reader, about the frustrations of medical difficulties with one of my ears.  The saga continues:  back in April I was having difficulties and went to the doctor to discover […]


  6. Sheila Bigelow says:

    Thinking of you and the confirmation class kids. On the subject of hearing, however, I was reminded of a friend’s daughter, who had a cochlear implant.  The first time she heard a toilet flush was pretty traumatic.


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