“observe a leaf falling from on high…listen to the sounds it makes as it touches branches on the the way down…then the sound of landing. I didn’t realize until today that I can do that. I cried. Good thing no one was there. “
A friend of mine penned the above words in her “status message” on Facebook, yesterday. Honestly? When I read the words, goosebumps erupted on my arms and neck and I felt an overwhelming emotion well up in my chest. I sat at my desk and “cried like a baby” if you must know. Deep, wrenching sobs that shook my entire body and caused my assistance dog to lay her head on my knee and look imploring up at me … asking to “help” as best she could.
Unless you’ve lost something and regained it through surgery, rehab, hard work, and perseverance you could never understand completely. When an individual chooses to be surgically implanted with cochlear bionics, they can only do so after their “natural hearing” has reached a point that other assistive devices provide little help. Many resign themselves to not ever hearing again “this side of Heaven”. To regain that and as an added benefit, the ability to interact and communicate with others, strengthening old relationships or forging new ones, repairing self-confidence and esteem, all “sweeten the deal” and make the decision even more life-changing. For some, aural rehab goes very quickly, while for others that first year can be frustrating and challenging. In the end, we’ll never be the same. We will never take for granted our hearing and the ability to listen to the sounds around us. One becomes a part of a “family” of other folks who are “hearing again” as well. We get it. We understand. We’ll never be the same.
The Internet has changed our world, but there are some unheralded benefits of having the Internet. It has provided a connection for people with disabilities, health concerns, or chronic illness. Support groups and message boards exist for every type of health issue.
Those with the invisible illness/disability of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome are connected to others who live with the knowledge that today things might be pretty good – but tomorrow you may be bedridden. Those with chronic, hard-to-explain pain disorders can communicate with others who live the same life and share the burdens and triumphs of living with a disease that WILL NOT squelch their inner spirit.
Those who have a loved one that has survived a traumatic brain injury can find others who “miss the person they once loved” and are “learning to love the person left behind”. They can share successes and set-backs, fashioning relationships with other parents, spouses and loved ones who understand because they LIVE IT.
Individuals who live with mental illness can connect with others who understand the stigma and prejudices. They can connect with others who are SURVIVORS.
People (finally) diagnosed with the new epidemic of Lyme disease can find a community of people who have learned how to talk to their doctors, discuss holistic practices that provide relief, discover medications and lifestyle changes that can make a difference in the number of recurring flares, and how to remain positive and proactive in living with the illness.
I have a cousin in the latter stages of treatment for breast cancer. Her “voice” has changed throughout this process and I can tell by reading her penned words that she has a new fascination, anticipation and appreciation for life. She will never be the same.
I think we are slow to recognize how hardship, tragedy, trials, and adversity can provide the surprising and unexpected benefit of a permanent change in hearts, minds, and bodies. For many of us our very foundation has been rocked and rebuilt. Life is different. Sweeter.
We’ll never be the same.
© 2010 Personal Hearing Loss Journal