Thursday, May 31, 2012
Conversations (Living With Cogan's Syndrome)
A truly strenuous component of this whole ordeal is trying to have a normal conversation—albeit, normal is something I'll never have again. One on one talks are typically the most successful for me as I am able to focus on the other individual's lips and listen intently to the sound of their voice. For instance, when Sarah is driving and I am in the passenger seat of our car, our exchange usually goes something like this:
“Do you want to get a coffee at Dunkin' Donuts?” she asks.
“I'm sorry, what?” I ask, shaking my head, leaning in close to her face, and squinting as I try to target her lips with my eyes.
“Do you want to get a coffee at Dunkin' Donuts?” she repeats, this time speaking in a slow, low tone while turning her face toward me so that her lips are in view.
“Do I want to get a coffee at Dunkin' Donuts?”
“Yes,” she says.”
And that is what I would call an easy discourse. Discussions grow increasingly arduous when in larger rooms or when others are involved.
I have come to loathe groups of a considerable size. In church, I can't hear what anyone is saying. The sound of multiple conversations within the sanctuary flush out the already feeble noise of a single dialogue I might be having. When going out to dinner, I have Sarah order my meal and talk to the server because I am embarrassed about my hearing problems and don't want to spend the time explaining my issues to someone I don't know.
Spending time with Sarah's family used to be something I truly looked forward to. Delving into a feast—as most get-togethers include around ten people—drinking beer with guys, sitting outside by the fire and sharing stories and laughter were all aspects of the family congregation that I longed for; unfortunately, much of this has changed. The conversations ensue and the joyfulness of being together envelopes whichever home we are gathered in, but I feel left out. I don't laugh anymore and I'm not as outgoing as I used to be, even amongst those whom I am closest to. Most of the time I'll try to stay involved, fake a smile and then leave the room to go read, drowning my disappointment in fantastical worlds.
Reading has become a habit of mine. I loved to read before all this began, but now that I have the time—and it excuses me from having to talk too much or strain myself in the laborious act of trying to hear—it is practically all I do. I read when I wake up and only take breaks to eat, go to the bathroom, talk to Sarah, and sleep. It is probably becoming an addiction, but at this point, I don't care. I wish I could talk to others without feeling self-conscious or shamed, but I can't; it's too hard. I don't want to think about my issues anymore so I've allowed fictional lives to take over my own.