So the other day my husband was telling me some details of an upcoming work assignment. He works as an industrial maintenance mechanic millwright and his job requires travel to job sites. Usually he is home the same day, but there have been the odd occasion when he is gone for a night or two.
I never like when he is away because I don’t sleep well when he isn’t beside me, even when he is home and he crashes on the couch in the living room. Most of the time I can handle the night or two, even though I cannot hear very much while I sleep. I only have a small amount of low frequency hearing in the left ear, and none in the implanted right ear. Needless to say it makes me feel vulnerable at night.
This time, he is going to be away for days at a time and home on weekends for a period of at least six months. As he was telling me this, despite already knowing the project was coming up, I began to experience anxiety and panic. I had one of my toddler’s Smurf toys from McDs in my hands and was twisting it around over and over. I was also on the verge of tears, which caught me off guard. I knew then this was a different reaction for me than I’d had had before. I have lived on my own before, and the ex-husband had also been away after our daughter was born for several months, but I hadn’t had these feelings during those times.
So why was I reacting so viscerally this time? The surgery for the cochlear implant destroyed any residual hearing I had had in my right ear, and that became the trigger for my anxiety and panic. I also had had an alert system that was set up for alerting me to my daughter’s cries, or the doorbell. I no longer have that system, as I had left it with the ex who is totally deaf when our marriage ended as he required it more than I did at the time. It was ok while it was just me in my new home as my neighbours had a key for emergencies; and when I had my two children with me, my daughter was old enough to alert me if needed.
I haven’t replaced the alert system for several reasons. The major one is the cost, as the central component itself is at least $200, and then adding the accessories increases that cost, therefore, it can cost me up to $1000 depending on which system and accessories I chose. I also, in the past four years that I have been with my husband, I no longer felt a need for an alert system at night because he is hearing and I could rely on him to wake me if needed.
When he gained this job, we had known that at some point I’d be facing a period of time without him here. We didn’t prepare for it largely because I hadn’t felt that vulnerable or concerned until now. Having less hearing than I did three years ago is continually bringing up new challenges and emotions that I hadn’t experienced before.
So now what do I do? My plan is to try to borrow a system and until then, or if it isn’t possible to borrow one, sleep with my hearing aid on, so I can hear our son, and any noise during the night. Our neighbour will be made aware of the situation so he can alert me or take action if god forbid, something does occur. I have worked through the initial anxiety and panic, and I know we will be ok. Being deaf makes life challenging but nothing is insurmountable.
On an aside, I entered a little writing contest, in the Canada Writes Defining Moments contest, click here, to read my story of the day I became motherless: Last Breath. Please read and vote for me, the contest ends February 23rd.