My Year of Gratitude

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The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for me, since I work at a grocery store. When I’m working before the sun rises and leaving well after it sets, it’s hard to maintain that attitude of gratitude that is the essence of personal serenity. But the actual holiday is supposed to be all about gratitude. So many times, when I reflect of thankfulness, I usually end up realizing how much I take for granted. 

One thing that surprised me when I reflected on what I was grateful for in 2018 was that I initially didn’t think about my second cochlear implant. It’s been a big year for me; I got engaged, I moved in with my fiancée, I had a lot of changes at work. But during all of that, I got an implant and began using my left ear to hear for the first time in almost 20 years.

Something so incredible is so easy to take for granted. I think the reason for this paradox is that it is such an every day thing for me to hear from both ears. Even after 19 years of single-sided hearing, hearing with two ears is such a natural benefit. Me and my brain love it so much. The coolest thing about it is how much my brain loves it even though the new ear is so challenging by itself. The best way to explain it is that by itself, my new ear only gives me maybe 11% comprehension (might be generous). My old ear is well above 90% in a quiet environment with no lip-reading. 

Even with such a huge discrepancy, my brain is already so conditioned to surround sound. It is such a joy. It is so noticeable when the battery dies in my new ear. I am so shocked at the decrease in the quality of my hearing. I am amazed at how quickly the second implant has given me added richness, fullness, “roundness,” to sound that I did not have before. And this is all with very poor speech discrimination. 

Not only do I have to be thankful for both of my implants, I also need to be thankful for all the fine people I met in all of my travels that guided me in this direction. My life sounds better now.