I have a unique talent. I produce more than the average amount of ear wax. Rather than it escaping from my ears, it just keeps burrowing further into my ear canals until the world is muffled. Ever so slowly little noises disappear, erased from my sound atmosphere. Then late one night, all of a sudden, it’s as if I am now underwater. My body begins to panic. Nothing I do will bring back my ability to clearly hear the quiet noises that usually surround me at night. The night has closed in on me. I can’t breathe and my heart is racing.
Knowing that I won’t be able to do anything until morning, I turn the lights on and find something brain dead to watch on television to keep me company. I start to doze, but the moment I turn the lights and tv off and lay back down, the feeling is back and I can’t breathe. I am cold inside so to try to warm up I put extra layers on in hopes this under-my-skin cold feeling goes away. I force myself through this weird fear my body is creating, swing my feet to the ground, turn the lights back on, tv back on and try to calm myself down with old episodes of Seinfeld. Sitting up in bed, I finally find peace at 3:30AM.
I am grateful for morning, even if I only slept 2 1/2 hours. On the outside I feel normal. My words still form, I can still laugh, walking isn’t an issue. Internally though, I feel numb. I take the chickens to school and drive myself to the doctor’s office. Everything is still so muffled. I explain to the woman at the front desk that I can’t hear, but she doesn’t change her tone of voice. She continues speaking quietly to me and I strain to hear her words. I am cold again. I watch the Houston flood coverage in silence. How odd that I am so worried about my inability to hear, when these people are truly underwater.
The nurse calls my name and I follow her in. The doctor confirms both ears are blocked and assures me they can clean them out and I’ll be back to normal. I am not yet convinced especially once the nurse starts shooting the water and hydrogen peroxide mix into my ear. The pressure of the swooshing water mixture is overwhelming and the sound becomes even more muffled except now the tide is pounding in my head as if I am a sandy beach. I force myself to have faith in the nurse though, bracing myself as the dizziness sets in. Finally, I hear a pop and my ear is clear. She works her painful magic on the other ear and after 15 minutes or so, that one clears too and I am relieved. I want to hug this nurse for restoring my hearing, but I contain myself. I can’t believe the details I hear as I am leaving, even my voice sounds clear. Why did I ignore this problem so long?
Which makes me wonder what else have I allowed myself to ignore? Slow progressions where the impact is so slight on a day to day basis I am not realizing anything is different. When will I wake up again in the middle of the night, unable to talk myself out of another body-induced panic attack?
Time is moving so fast, and each minute is filled with some task or chatter or responsibility, what are we missing that once it’s gone, we will find ourselves underwater? Change can be so miniscule from day to day, that you don’t see signs of something major happening that may send you reeling. I know I can’t live in fear of the unknown, all I can do is try to be more present. I will be more conscious of how I spend my time and who I spend it with. I will be my whole self and stop being silenced when I show too much emotion. I will make more room for the people I love, support them, and have their back as long as they have mine. I don’t want to look back and think I wasted hours being something I’m not, when I could be spending hours being exactly who I am and surrounded by the people that allow me to be just that. I have my own reasons for how I live my life, but as long as those reasons are rooted in love and they make sense to me and I am in control and conscious and deliberate with each step I take, I will not apologize for them.