Sound and Silence
travel along the auditory nerve to the brain. Damaged, dysfunctional, or missing hair cells were most likely the cause of Geneva's hearing loss.
The "sensorineural" part began to make sense to me, but I still had trouble with the "hearing loss" part. How could Geneva, who was only six weeks old, have lost something that she never had?
But "loss" was the perfect word for what I felt over the next couple of weeks. "She'll never know the sound of her mother's voice," I remember saying to my husband one night, as tears fell from my eyes onto my pillow. And all those Beatles and Bob Dylan songs he had been singing her since she was born—she had never heard a single note.
Itook the news harder than my husband, perhaps because I'd had more experience with babies and young children. I could imagine my daughter running toward the road and not hearing that a car was coming. I could picture Geneva as a toddler, reaching for something hot, and my not being able to call out "Careful!" from across the room. I think I also took the news harder because I would bear more of the load of making sure that Geneva did not fall behind developmentally, since I'd be spending more time with her. I love my job as a writer for Dartmouth Medicine magazine and had planned to return to work full-time after my maternity leave. But when we learned about Geneva's deafness, I knew she needed lots of one-on-one attention from me more than I needed to work and more than my husband and I needed the money. Happily, however, the magazine's editor agreed to let me work parttime, so I didn't have to give up working entirely. To make up the difference in our income, we would find ways to lower our expenses.
Besides feeling a sense of loss over Geneva's deafness and my inability to
"Loss" was the perfect word for what I felt over the next couple of weeks. "She'll never know the sound of her mother's voice," I remember saying to my husband one night, as tears fell from my eyes onto my pillow.
work full-time, we fretted over some big unknowns. Within a week or two after her diagnosis, we learned about all sorts of disabilities and syndromes that can accompany deafness. Syndromes that hit me in my gut and made my stomach turn. Syndromes that cause blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks. "If Geneva gets diagnosed with one of those syndromes, that's when I'll stop getting out of bed in
the morning," I'd say, only half joking. My husband and I worried for some time that there might be another, far worse diagnosis lurking in the shadows.
But as the weeks and months passed,