I watched the dancers moving to a music I could no longer hear.
Their bodies swayed and moved to a hidden beat. There was laughter, hand clapping, stamping and twirling. I wished that I still possessed a little of the grace I used to have. I would have enjoyed to have been a part of that wonderful riotous melee. Suddenly Mums came across to me and mouthed: “They are playing one of your favourite songs!”
“Thank You for the Music,” was the response.
“Oh, Mums, I love that song. Where are they up to?”
I watched my mother’s mouth closely.
“…I’m so grateful and proud, all I want is to sing it out loud. So I say, thank you for the…
“…music, the songs I’m singing, thanks for all the joy they’re bringing…” I sang along joyfully to a music that played clearly in my heart. Outside was silence.
My darling Dad gently put his arms around me and we swayed together. Mums continued singing:”Who could live without it, I ask in all honesty, what would life be, without a song or a dance, what are we…”
“So I say, thank you for the music, for giving it to me…” I sang tunelessly to a long remembered song. There was a joyous smile on my face as I sang for what had once been.
I met Jenny Perold, my audiologist, and into that silent world, the word ‘Cochlear Implant’ began to reverberate. Life began to stir in what had been dead for the past eighteen years. Cochlear Implants pushed open the door to my world and said: COME IN AND DANCE!!!
This year is the tenth anniversary of my first Cochlear Implant.
I entered the world of sound and was initially totally deafened! Cars whizzed past with a high pitched roar. People shouted to each other in the supermarket. Dad’s spoon made a thunderous clunk as he stirred his coffee. The child slurped his milkshake down in an ear splitting way. I dropped a knife on the floor and the echo reverberated in a massive clang around my kitchen. Spencer, my cockatiel, chattered softly to himself in trumpet shattering tones.
I had to learn to re-hear my world. Hearing a strange sound, I would have to recognise what was causing it. Then my brain would compartmentalise it. The next time that sound occurred, my brain would rifle through the compartments, find the sound and slot it neatly into it’s allocated place. The cars stopped whizzing in high pitched roars. They drove past with their normal purr. Dad’s spoon no longer clunked. It merely stirred his coffee. A child drinking his milkshake is now a delightful sight to me. Alas, Spencer’s chatter can still verge on the trumpet shattering scale. Fortunately I love trumpets and I am mad about my bird!
I had my second Cochlear Implant in my ear that wasn’t hearing a thing. We weren’t sure whether there were any nerves working in my left ear. That was the side on which I landed when I fell. But lo and behold, I have been granted sound on that side too. So now I am a person that hears with both her ears. I am bilateral!!!
While I have been writing this it has been storming outside. Perdita, my dachshund, has been cowering under the bed in sheer terror. I, on the other hand, have just been glorying in the fact that I am not only able to smell the rain but to hear it hammering down from above. How lucky I am!
Over the past ten years, so much has been given back to me. Being able to understand what people are saying, music, films, theatre, being able to interact with our pastor in church. Thank goodness he is patient with a sense of humour. Regularly I will interrupt with: “No, Peter, surely God didn’t mean for that to happen?”
“Yes, he did. Just wait, you’ll see why in a moment!”
Every three years, my medical aid, Discovery, provides me with an upgrade to my Cochlear Implant processor. Recently I was excited because that time had blissfully arrived once more. Jenny had told me it would be smaller and stronger than my previous one. As she handed it to me, the processor almost seemed to grin and say: Hey there, we’re going to have fun together!
I looked at it in amazement. It was astonishing that such a minute item could contain such life giving properties.
“You have an iPhone, don’t you?” Jenny asked.
“Yes, in actual fact, it’s new.”
“You can actually operate your processor by remote control using your iPhone. You simply put an App on your phone.”
“Amazing!” I laughed.
Jenny looked at her computer and said:
“You haven’t been listening to your music much.”
“What do you mean.”
She pointed to a small circle on her screen. About an eighth of the circle was a blue colour. “That’s your music. There’s also a portion showing your conversation, how much TV you watch…”
“What is that portion, the largest one?”
Jen smiled. “That’s your quiet time.”
Whilst marvelling at the technical genius in front of me, a small part of me cried out: ‘What about my privacy?’
As if reading my mind, Jenny said: “Don’t worry, that is as far as one is able to ‘probe’. It’s just to give us an assessment of how you are using your Cochlear Implant.”
I was secretly disappointed at myself for not making the most of my incredible ‘ears’ and vowed to listen to more music. Earlier today, I was listening to Barbara Streisand. What an artist she is! Before my fall,I used to love the music of Out of Africa. It’s strange how foreign that music sounds to me now. I’m going to persevere with it though. Vibrations through my Cochlear can set off different sounds and images in my brain. I need to search for the music I loved so much. It’s there. I will find it.
I think back to that person watching the dancing, lost in the silence of her world. How my life has changed. I now have a Cochlear Implant in each ear. I have a special streamer that helps me watch TV. I am able to hold my own at a table filled with people. I am mad about a singer I had never heard before my fall, Eva Cassidy. I am so looking forward to the next Meryl Streep film hitting the big screen.
In August I was in England and I went to the Novello Theatre in London to see the London production of Mama Mia. Beforehand we stopped in at The Waldorf. What a zoot-magoot hotel!!! We sat and drank cocktails deluxe. They were spectacular in their intricate designs and tasted out of this world. The doorman was a Mr Bean lookalike! I insisted on a photograph being taken of the two of us. I delighted in the way he permitted a small smile to split his de riguer facade!
It was such a treat watching Mama Mia. I listened to them singing Thank you for the music and I simply rejoiced. My life seemed to have done a wonderful circle. Once more I’m able to listen to that song with an unbounded joy in my heart.
I want to stand on a mountain top and ululate long and loud with a mixture of jubilation and exultation. I am alive and part of this wonderful thing called Life.
Thank you for the music!!!