Audiogram Jealousy

Jealousy can come out of nowhere. It can spring from a moment of happiness, from a moment of sadness, and it can spring randomly when you are neither sad nor happy.

That green eyed monster can creep up on you, a silent burglar in the dark, and rob you of your happiness, focus and attention. It’s shadow of dark green will overshadow your previously clear window through which you look at life, and you will consequently feel upset, angry and confused.

The other day, I got jealous. Twice. Over two pieces of paper with red and blue lines, O’s and X’s on them.

As a reporter, you are supposed to remain objective, an outsider whose sole concern is capturing the essence and story of another. You are not supposed to be emotional or political, and you are most definitely not supposed to be jealous of paper. But, there I was two days in a row, getting jealous over stupid pieces of paper with red and blue figures.

I’m calling it audiogram jealousy, because those papers were printed audiograms. And those audiograms made reporting difficult. They stared back at me from the plastic countertop upon which they lay, silently mocking. It was as though they purposefully were placed within my sight, and as I couldn’t help but stare at them, I imagined I could hear those little red and blue lines laughing.

Ohh…how they taunted me. They lay just below the dashed line that marked normal hearing, moving in short waves across a fairly straight path. They barely dipped down, and as I pitted them against my own audiogram, the jealousy grew. At 24, my audiogram resembled the cliff Wylie coyote most often falls off in Looney Tunes cartoons when the Road Runner has outsmarted him once again. Wylie is the cartoon version of my hearing loss. The Road Runner is sound.

Wylie walks for two or three steps across a flat plateau, sure he’s going to catch that pesky Road Runner,  and then as he leaps with his arms wide open, he falls off the side of a sheer cliff until, just like my hearing, he lands abruptly on level, solid ground. And of course cruelly, the Road Runner, just like the sounds my hearing was attempting to catch, runs off into the far off distance with only so much as a “Meep! Meep!” Except for me, there is no  “Meep! Meep!” just silence, air and the same red-faced, defeating frustration Wylie feels.

It was hard to understand at first, the jealousy, and it sort of caught me by surprise. I had hearing aids and could hear now, so why should I be jealous? I wasn’t having the same difficulties I was before, so why did those papers make me want to scream…or even steal them to replace my own. Why on earth was I being so ungrateful and childish?

And then the answer was clear. Because even with my hearing aids, even without the difficulties I once faced before, and even with the improvements to my social and professional life that my hearing aids have given me…I will always be jealous of someone with better hearing. I will always dream and wish and hope that I could have “normal” hearing again. The desire to not have hearing loss at all will never go away, no matter what I say or do or think.

I have hearing loss, and at 24, that’s not exactly something fun to deal with. And when I come across audiograms that are better than my own but belong to individuals older than me, it becomes hard. And when I get on the phone and my 85-year-old grandmother can hear better…yea that’s pretty much the final straw.

Nobody is perfect. We all have flaws or things we wish we could change. It’s just that mine, well mine are temporarily changeable and yet permanently inescapable.

Oh Wylie, you poor, poor coyote. I empathize.

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