Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Love Notes (Living With Cogan's Syndrome)


September 7th – 14th:

“I am amazed at how quickly you are progressing,” Janet said as we reclined on the opposite side of her industrial-style desk in the audiology department.

“Thank you,” I replied with a smile.

“I know that you’ve lost hearing in your right ear again, but you are doing so well with the implant,” she said.

“Like I mentioned last time, I have one other patient with Cogan’s Syndrome who recently had surgery for the cochlear implant, and the two of you are moving ahead much faster than my other patients.”

“That is amazing,” I said. “I can tell that I’m beginning to really understand voices through the device. Especially now that I have hardly any hearing in my right ear and I am forced to rely on the cochlear implant alone. I did also notice this before my hearing went away. When I’m talking on the phone, I’ve been trying to listen through my left ear in order to give the device something to work with. I don’t do it as often as Sarah or you would probably like,” I told Christy and then peripherally glanced at Sarah’s mother, Michelle. She had brought me to my appointment since Sarah had obligations at work. My mother-in-law gave me a quick smirk and I explained, “but I’m trying.”

“That’s great,” Janet’s eyebrows raised with satisfaction.

Janet mapped my device and adjusted the levels upwards, leaving space for me to get acclimated to the higher levels before our next meeting.

Michelle and I left Janet’s office and headed toward the car.

“Do you think you might ask her at your next appointment when might be a good time to get a hearing aid for your right ear?” Michelle asked.

“Maybe. The problem is that my hearing keeps fluctuating and I never know when or at what level it will plateau,” I said. “I sure would love one, though. Having a hearing aid would make my life that much easier. “

                                                                      * * * * *

September 14th, 2005; midnight. This was the moment that Sarah and I started dating. We had met three weeks prior and became friends shortly thereafter. We spent quite a bit of time together during those three weeks, both of us trying to fight our feelings for the other, attempting to remain platonic—I caved pretty quickly.

Before midnight that night, we walked from the SUNY New Paltz campus to the downtown area and decided to try out a little place called The Village Tea Room. We sat outside, drank tea and shared a slice of cherry cheesecake. When we finished lounging at the comfortable restaurant, we strolled back to campus, engaged in conversation and held hands. We went to the Quad—a large grassy area surrounded by brick dormitories and old-fashioned classroom buildings—and lay out on the grass, unaware of messing up our clothes or getting wet from dew. It was around 11 p.m. and the sky was decorated by a tapestry of stars. We shared our first kiss before I walked her back to her dorm.

We sat outside on a bench, underneath a lamppost, ten minutes until midnight. I was already thinking ahead: I felt weird about a potential anniversary on the 13th, so I told her we should wait until 12 a.m. Sarah looked at me with an odd expression and conceded. I asked, she said yes, and thus began our relationship.

Two years later, on our anniversary, I told Sarah that we should reenact the night that I asked her to be my girlfriend as a fun way to celebrate. We went to The Tea Room, to the Quad, and sat on the bench outside of what used to be her dorm—at this point she had an apartment off campus. While sitting on the bench, the last ten minutes before midnight seemed like hours. My heart pounded. Though it was cold, my forehead and underarms began to perspire. I was hiding something from her and I was anxious to reveal my true motives behind our romantic evening.

One minute before midnight, I grabbed Sarah’s hand and walked with her under the lamppost. I told her how much I loved her and that I wanted to be with her for the rest of my life. I pulled a small box out of my pocket—Sarah’s eyes widened—and I proceeded to lower myself until my knee was pressing on the cement walkway.

“Will you marry me?” I asked.

“No…”she let out a gasp and covered her mouth.

Well, I wasn’t expecting that.

Thankfully, the “no” was just an exclamation of shock.

“I mean, Yes! Yes!” She cried out. I put the ring on her finger and we embraced.

                                                                     * * * * *

Today, seven years after we began dating and five after our engagement, Sarah and I thought it would be fun to celebrate in the same way.

                                                          (Reenactment of the proposal)

                            (Reenactment of the "Yes!" Though this looks more like, "Why not?")

She had to work before we could make the trek out to New Paltz from Connecticut. Sarah works only ten minutes from where her parents live, so I dropped her off and spent the day at their house. When it was time to pick her up, I got in the car, turned the radio on and drove carefully down the road.  I have regained some hearing in my right ear over the past week, so I thought, Why not give it a try? Immediately, I heard a song that sounded familiar.
                                                             
                                                                     * * * * *

A couple of weeks ago, our friend, Ronnie, was visiting from New York. The three of us sat in our living room, gathered around the computer, watching the music video for FUN’s “Some Nights.” About two minutes in, being unable to recognize most of the sounds from the song, I became utterly frustrated and removed myself from the room. Sure, not having the ability to hear music for months has had a negative effect on me, but this was different.

FUN is a band comprised of musicians from two of my favorite bands. Not being able to hear this brilliant collaboration was devastating for me. I didn’t want to return to the living room until the song was over.

                                                                     * * * * *

When the song played through the car stereo, I recognized it immediately from what I had remembered hearing weeks before; only this time, it sounded good. I could make out the singer’s voice, the instruments, and the blend of all of the sounds. This was the first time since February that I was hearing a song and actually enjoying it. Not only that, but it was a new song. This was a song that was not around before I first got sick.

As I neared Sarah’s office, my eyes welled up with tears. I was hearing new music and it was glorious!

I entered the parking lot, pulled over just outside of Sarah’s office window, and sang out loud. Sarah walked outside with a hop in her step, looking thrilled to see me.  Just as she approached the car, the song ended. My hand pulled the door-handle and my body moved towards Sarah without a thought.  As my arms wrapped around her, I kissed her forehead and said, “I have something amazing to tell you.”

“What is it?” she asked as we both got into the car.

I told her what I had just experienced and all of the emotions that I was feeling at the moment. 

“This is the best news I’ve heard all day,” she said as she began to cry. “I think at your next appointment we should tell Janet and finally talk to her about a hearing aid.”

“I think so.”

We held each other for a moment and then left for New Paltz—off to celebrate not only our anniversary, but now the first day I enjoyed music again as well.

4 comments:

  1. I love this post! So moving! I think your blog would make a great foundation for a book about what you and Sarah have gone through. Someone suggested to me that Sarah should write a chapter as well about how it has affected her.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, that is a great idea! Thanks, Michelle!

    ReplyDelete
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