After losing most of his hearing in 2010, a journalist’s frustration mounted as insurance and the medical community entangled him in red tape.
As a music lover who had spent much of his career in coverage and criticism of popular culture, Holston faced a shocking transition when he awoke one morning to discover that he could barely hear anything. Though there had been warning signs—hearing aids and measurable loss—this was sudden, unexpected, and close to absolute. Thus began an extended period of difficult adjustment: communicating at work with colleagues by email and pen on paper, navigating marital turbulence, dealing with strangers who didn’t understand his condition or who thought he lacked mental capacity. But the biggest issue was trying to figure out what had happened and how to fix it. Doctors weren’t absolutely sure on the former, and their attempts to address the latter caused even more frustration when an expensive cochlear implant failed to help. This left the author wondering “whether something was still wrong with me systemically, something as yet undetected that was rendering the implant less effective, or whether the implant itself might be a problem.” Consultations with other doctors meant he had to go out of his insurance network, and haggling over the phone became nearly impossible due to his condition. This book is partly about how hearing loss affects every aspect of one’s life, partly about how dealing with insurance can make life a living hell, and partly about the effects on a marriage from such unexpected strains. “Years of writing and columnizing on a daily basis had made writing reflexive to me,” writes Holston. “I try not to let any experience go to waste. To paraphrase an old saying, that which doesn’t kill you makes for a good story.” An appendix includes useful information about the benefits and risks of cochlear implants.
A worthwhile memoir about hearing impairment and struggling with the complex medical community.