Today, after a painful labor and delivery process, my ENT was able to finally extract the remaining plug from deep inside my right ear. He showed it to me. It was the size of an earplug, and it was mostly dead skin, mixed with wax and hardened over the last two years in response to the radiation that pummeled the right side of my head during my initial treatment.
When I got in the car to drive home, I noticed that the car was making lots of strange, loud noises. (It was the engine running.) I kept fumbling for the window buttons, because I kept hearing the roar of gusting winds. (It was regular street noise; my windows were closed.) When I got home and pushed the button to close the garage door I was startled by the initial sound, and figured something must be wrong with the motor. (Nah.) As I write this I am astounded by the sound of my fingers clacking on the keyboard. How am I not waking everyone up with this racket?
I talked to my mom on the phone, and she said I wasn't shouting into the phone like I normally do. Conversely, my husband commented that I wasn't whispering when I talked to him, like I normally do when we are in the same room together. Until today I had no idea how loudly or softly I was speaking, because it was all just a mess of vibrations. Now when I talk, I actually hear my voice. It's so weird! It sounds like an echo with some strange person's voice in there. She sounds like she has a cold or something (or maybe she's just getting over the flu).
I realized that whenever we watched a movie at home I always put on the closed captioning. I could always hear the talking, but not well enough to make out the words. It was a subtle thing that I chalked up as bad sound quality, not hearing loss. But now I'm realizing how much my hearing has been impaired all this time, and how much I've been missing, and how good it is to have it restored. One more thing to be thankful for -- ears to hear. Something I thought I had all along, but now I know I have more.
I was so excited, I went out and bought a cd of Mozart music. I've been able to hear (and sing) and thoroughly enjoy music all this time, but now it's a little different and a little better. I can't wait for the next opportunity to sing something.
The joy is tempered somewhat by the fact that my ear is still really super tender. It's allergy season, and this ear can no longer be rubbed when it itches. And when I blew my nose this afternoon, I learned how much pressure that puts on the eardrum, and I also learned that there was, in fact, something even more painful than the procedure in the ENT office this morning. I get to try some sterile anti-inflammatory drops tonight, and I go back in two weeks to see how things are looking. (Or sounding.)
What a strange day! "Surprise -- you've been deaf for two years, and didn't even know it! But you're better now -- how'z that sound?"
And of course, this experience made me (pardon the ear pun) wax philosophical about life. (Everything's a blog topic, it seems -- even nasty ear stuff.) We are so dependent upon the tangible, the tactile, the things we can personally see, hear, touch, or taste. Such dependence makes our reasoning infantile and limited, because we go through life partially blind and deaf, thinking we can see and hear it all, but being completely oblivious to the full range of possibilities.
I recently heard a critic of my faith demand some kind of "proof". I have seen friends struggle with disappointment and grief, not understanding "why" something so unfair and senseless has happened to them. I have listened to people express fears about the future, because they can't see far enough to know what will happen to them. Their universe is restricted to what they can personally perceive and reason in the here and now, and it diminishes their ability to experience a fulness of possibilities.
Suddenly I'm hearing Barbra Streisand in Yentl:
It all began the day I found
That from my window I could only see a piece of sky.
I stepped outside and looked around.
I never dreamed it was so wide, or even half as high...
She goes on, and then later she concludes, "With all there is, why settle for just a piece of sky?"
Why live in fear and doubt and limitation because we rely on our own little piece of sky? No wonder the scriptures teach us to avoid trusting in the arm of flesh. (In my case it was the "ear of flesh!")
"When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves. Wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not." (2 Nephi 9:28)
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord..." (Isaiah 55:8)
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding..." (Proverbs 3:5)
"Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not..." (Doctrine & Covenants 6:36)
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27)
Now that I have a better sense of hearing I can appreciate how much I had lost, and how much better things can sound. It was previously beyond my comprehension. Likewise, at times when I have turned parts of my life over to the Lord (whose perception is infinitely more broad than my own) I have come to recognize possibilities and blessings that were previously beyond my comprehension. Those experiences build hope and faith in times that would otherwise be ripe with fear and despair.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound...