“I can’t hear the phone,“ her text says. We jumped in the car and sped over to my grandmother’s house, flying down the streets near midnight. We arrive and see a woman I have been extremely close to all my life in a pool of tears at the foot of the stairs. “I can’t hear anything! What is happening to me?” she yells monotonously. “Full hearing loss,” the medical professionals inform us. Unsure what exactly caused it, we were informed that there is an operation that could allow hearing aids and cochlear implants to restore hearing.
To all of our dismay, the timeline for having this procedure was almost six months: a half-year of complete silence before the devices could be switched on. After moving in with us, communication was agonizingly slow. Everything we wanted to tell her had to be crudely scribbled on a whiteboard and shown. I cannot even imagine what it is like to suddenly be plunged into a silent void -- all the music, voices and sounds of ambiance ever to form your experiences suddenly become a distant, foggy memory.
I felt family life slowly slip into a routine of sorts -- changes in plans were difficult to articulate and generally were not worth the time spent explaining it. I noticed the woman that had always been bubbly, bright and had given me my best guidance slowly become distant and unable to communicate with us. Television programs without captions became unwatchable and music just a memory. For the next six months, this is how life was. Even though she moved in, it was like there were only three people in the house.
The day finally came, and the moment they turned the devices on, it was like the woman I knew and loved sprang back to life. As soon as she heard our voice again, it was like a switch -- I can still smell the burnt coffee in that office from that moment. I had a newfound appreciation for all the doctors who made it possible -- they brought someone I loved effectively back to life.