(Y)ear One

Headphones image

It has been exactly on year since I lost all hearing in my left ear. A lot has happened.

I am not going to recount how I lost my hearing. I have written two posts about that already. However, this post is about the first major milestone I am crossing now.

It is strange to wear a hearing aid. At times, it has receded to a placebo, of sorts. My doctor concurs, that the hearing aid was a mere trial. She said that I will get used to having one ear, and she was right.

I am grateful to her, and I do not blame her for not being able to recover the ear. As I read more about SNHL, I realize how little it has been studied. I would like to personally share more.

My Family

My family has been understanding of my predicament, but I think they don’t realize how much I’ve accepted what has happened. I am someone who doesn’t believe in prayer or religion. Despite spending weeks reading the Mahabharata in the ruins of Hampi, I am not someone who believes that there is a benevolent God watching over us. It is strange to me that my family doesn’t want me to say “I am single-sided deaf” or “I can’t hear you”.

No. I will say those things. It is the truth. I am single-sided deaf. I cannot hear you sometimes, but I will ask you to repeat yourself. I am not weakened by this. I am merely stating facts.

Admission and acceptance of my disability is stage one. I cannot choose to ignore it and say all is well. I would rather you know that I have this problem, and then ask me questions about how to maneouvre about it, rather than avoid the issue and make uneducated guesses. Ask me. I am a teacher above all else, and teaching people what single-sided deafness is like is my way of teaching you how to speak to me.

Sleeping

It is not easy, sleeping on your one good ear and missing all the alarms. I have always been a deep sleeper, but I used to wake up to some sounds like thunder. But now, I sleep on my right ear, and cut off all sounds. I sleep in extreme silence. At times this is a gift. But I worry whether I will never hear people scream. That’s a very melancholy thought but I cannot ignore it.

I wear two smart-bands now. Not to show off, but so that I don’t miss my alarms or notifications on my phones. I have two phones since I like to separate work from my personal device.

Echo Location

My balance is back to normal. I am able to walk with ease once again, but I do get the occassional vertigo. I cannot tell where sound is coming from, not with any sort of accuracy, and I am not quite sure that will ever change. I have instead resigned to try and move my head so that the right ear points towards where I am trying to find something. It is a strange feeling.

However all is not lost. I am planning on building myself a wearable “sound compass”. I want to make it something I can wear reasonably, like a headband or something. I want to be able to “sense” where a sound is coming from using tiny microphones and a ring of vibrational sensors around my head. I’ll post more about this once I build a proof-of-concept.

Listening to Music

I bought a Spotify premium account, after avoiding it forever. It, unlike Amazon Music, provides mono-channel sound, so I can listen to music in a single channel. This has been making me think a lot. The brands we choose to empower through out money, they must align with our principles. Amazon hasn’t decided to allow Mono channel music, ergo Amazon doesn’t care about me. It is a fact of life.

I am listening to music, but not as much as before. You can’t really blame that on the ear though. I used to listen to music mostly on my commute. But thanks to the WFH situation, I barely leave the house. I am not complaining though.

I listen to the odd Metallica, Vivaldi and random Spotify playlists whenever I am working on trivial tasks, which isn’t often. While I am working on something hard, I prefer to hear my own thoughts.

Work and Programming

Being a programmer myself, I have been reading about accessibility, and I want to improve the tools I build at work to integrate accessibility and usability into their design. I know organizations do not care for that, despite what they say. Instead, I would still want to do this so that I can give back to the world that has given to me.

I read the following books on design, and would welcome recommendations on the same:

  1. Mismatch by Kat Holmes
  2. Inclusive Design for Products by Prof. Jonathan Hassell
  3. Inclusive Design for Organizations by Prof. Jonathan Hassell

I am very interested in accessibility now. I have been interested in design and usability for a long time, since I read Don Norman’s Design of Everyday Things, but now I have a personal stake in this matter.

I also took a late night course on Racket and Scheme by David Beazley where he discussed the SICP book. He is one of my favourite conference speakers, and his talks are so informative. I am going to write a longer post on his courses once I manage to finish the others.

I have also been using my time to learn Rust. I strongly believe that Rust will be a language I want to code in. And I am already seeing how it affects the way I think about Python code.

Life in General

There is still so much to be thankful for. I have started using a treadmill, and I have been at it quite religiously. I am trying to form a strong habit, so I walk for 45 minutes a day after I wake up. I would like to increase the intensity and the duration for which I walk, but that will come in time.

I am reading more, and learning more. I was overborne with some insecurity these past few months. I have been very insecure about my job and whether I would get fired for not performing a 110%.

I have always been an over-performer, and anything below “excellent” seems to a poor self-rating. I have been working on accepting that I cannot be “excellent” always. Instead, I would like my work to meet expectations, while I use the time I have to better myself.

Some books that have proven useful to that end are:

  1. Finite and Infinite Games by James Pearce
  2. The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
  3. The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

Endnote

But I digress. Back to my ear.

I would be lying to say that I am completely fine with having one ear. But like I have constantly believed and told myself, I have two choices: I can cry about it, or I can move on and find a way to live.

I choose the second.

That is my philosophy for life as a whole. I can move on, and find a way to live. It has kept me pretty sane thus far.

Categories:

hearing-loss

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