A former New York Times senior editor's poignant, enlightening memoir of hearing loss.
Hearing impairment is a widespread, and widely misunderstood, condition that afflicts nearly 50 million Americans. With ever-specialized medical technology and increasingly precise diagnostic tools, treatment options are better than ever, but the nature of damage to the inner ear remains opaque. In addition, in a culture dominated by oral communication, a persistent stigma remains attached to going deaf and to its prosthetic aids. Where hearing loss was once associated with the elderly, statistics suggest that an increasing number of young people put themselves at risk for early damage by exposure to overloud music, sports arenas, even subway stations. Bouton, whose own hearing loss has no known cause, details her struggle to accept the disability and to navigate the complex physical and emotional changes that accompany the inability to hear well. Vanity considerations aside—most hearing aids have an exterior element, drawing visibility to an otherwise invisible condition—the decision to wear a hearing aid or to have surgery to install a cochlear implant has financial and psychological ramifications. Most insurance companies don't cover all costs related to hearing loss, and often such devices don't work right away or even at all. Vertigo, tinnitus and depression are also common side effects of hearing loss or surgery, and the small adjustments and audio therapy required to get devices to work can take years. By interspersing her story with those of many others—both those suffering with hearing loss and the medical experts working to find a cure—the author provides a relatable, inspiring narrative of taking control, going public and finding comfort and empowerment in connecting with others facing similar difficulties.
A well-written, powerful book.