Sound and Sanity

Right now the motor is grinding. I can feel the sound in my teeth and my head is starting to throb. I can only imagine how the cats, with their sensitive ears, are coping. At least I know it will stop soon and that having the contractor and his assistant in my bathroom is a temporary source of stress. It’s awful and it’s nothing. Just an annoying by-product of minor renovations, and yet…

Sound impacts mood, productivity, sleep, appetite, and SANITY… Right now, as they are finishing up for the day, I’m breathing freer and wondering how the word sound got twin meanings—the auditory and the sound associated with the phrase, “being of sound mind.” That’s the sound that means without injury, financially strong, secure, reliable, valid, sensible, substantial and even enduring. ‘His financial plans were sound.’ ‘The foundation of her home was sound.’ ‘It’s time for a sound voice in politics.’

In my family, many people lose their hearing as they age. Statistically loss of hearing is common, and I worry and about the damage caused by noise and loud music. I’ve witnessed the way hearing loss can isolate and alienate. A quiet life is pleasant. A silent life is not.

Hearing aides are better than they were years ago. I remember how my grandmother hated the way they amplified the “static” she heard, to a point where she avoided wearing them. She would carry on multiple simultaneous conversations. We’d write something down, hand her the pad, she’d read it and reply. At that point, she could keep two or three conversations lively without missing a beat. The trick for me was writing clearly in large, block printed letters (I’m a scribbler) and attempting to spell correctly (my 4th grade teacher blamed my terrible handwriting on an attempt to hide my spelling errors).

One day I received a call at the office I shared with my dad. It was from a doctor, Grandma was brought from the retirement home to the hospital for an emergency surgery and the doctor seemed to be fishing for me to deny the authorization on the basis that she was senile.

“Why don’t you ask her if she want’s the surgery?”

“She’s not really competent to…”

“Yes she is. She’s just almost deaf. Write down what you want her to know and she’ll read it.”

Needless to say, a week or so after the surgery we talked to Grandma about her interactions with the doctor. He’d been tedious and so she just nodded and smiled, hoping he’d go away.

Sound and the sound mind…

The roar of the falls is loud, but soothing…