96. Learn American Sign Language
Updated November 15, 2009
As a child, I was plagued by ear infections. It seemed that I had one more often than I didn’t. And the whole situation was made worse by the fact that I hated taking medicine of any kind (what kid doesn’t?) and would keep quiet about the ache in my ear until it got so unbearably bad, my parents would notice I wasn’t feeling well.
To this very day, I still get an ear infection in my right ear, complete with terrible ear ache, every time I get so much a sniffle.
It should come as no surprise, then, that this near-constant state of inflammation caused some damage to the nerves in my right ear. In seventh grade, we were all rounded up into the library for a hearing test that I failed miserably. What followed was months of tests in a search to determine the cause of the near-deafness in my right ear. I was poked and prodded, put into a sound-proof room where I had to listen to words being piped into me, I had electrodes connected to my ears while sounds were played through headphones. I had a CAT scan, I was injected with iodine and CAT scanned again.
During that time, there was a great fear that the deafness would get progressively worse, until at some point in my life, I’d be completely deaf. And perhaps that will still happen.
In the meantime, I’ve adjusted nicely to having only one good ear. I have trouble in noisy situations, and find it nearly impossible to hear a conversation over music or a television. And you can never whisper to me – it’s hopeless, I’ll never hear it. I will awkwardly go out of my way to be sure my companions are sitting to my left rather than my right at movies or restaurants to be sure I don’t miss out. But I rarely mention it, so most people don’t even know. They do, perhaps, think I have a weird obsessions with sitting on the right. But oh well.
It was during this time that I developed an interest in learning sign language. I got a few books out of the library and learned a handful of words that I can still use today. But over time, it became apparent that I wasn’t likely to deaf any time soon, and other things took priority. But I’d still like to get back to learning sign language.