In case I got cold feet, the Girl’s Trip to Charleston with my female relatives served to remind me of the profound nature of my hearing impairment and how lucky I was to have an opportunity to act. Every group conversation in every noisy restaurant where I could not keep up served to reaffirm my appointment in the operating room.
I would sit at the table with a smile on my face, looking engaged enough to be involved but not so engaged that someone addressed a question or remark my way. I have enough energy to strain for about one hour before I am exhausted and ready to quit asking people to repeat themselves and stop trying to understand my way into a group conversation. But my trouble is not limited to noisy restaurants and groups; I can no longer understand one person in a quiet room without reading lips.
The alternative is to stay home. And as I reach the limits of my ability to participate in the hearing world I increasingly understand why many choose that option. My husband, friends, and family are very generous in accommodating me but there is a point where it just becomes a waste of energy to try. But I don’t want to stay home.
On the day before surgery, my husband asked me if I was nervous. I said I was not.