Thank You.

The seed which planted the Tree House ten months ago having been nourished over time by its valued and respected members, will be celebrating its first birthday in February. It has truly been a wonderful experience with lots of challenges. The Tree House has covered a wide variety of things ranging from supporting the Love Subtitles campaign, fundraising for Sound Seekers down to the simple goodnights reaching out to people when tinnitus gets too much in the small dark hours.

As now is a very seasonal month, a lot of you will be busy with your own lives, families and friends which mean the admins of the Tree House will be able to get a well-deserved rest, while the Tree House appears to be quiet. But never fret, we hope to bring you a lot more articles and exciting projects in the New Year so please watch this space!

I would like to express my appreciation to each and every one of you for helping to build the strong foundation on which the tree house is built. A huge thank you to the admins and the contributing authors team for voluntarily giving up their precious time to support the Tree House and what they believe in – moderating a platform where people can discuss issues in a civilised manner. It is a result today of what people have made it, above all it is a place where people feel safe to “speak up” without fear of being judged.

Thank you ever so, all of you – for being you and for being part of the journey that has made the Tree House what it is today.

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

– Marcel Proust

blossom

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

In Dedication by Anon.

How many friends do you have?  I am not talking about Facebook “friends” now.  I am not talking about the people you kinda know, your acquaintances.  I am talking about actual friends.  If you were going through a difficult time, who could you turn to?  Who could you tell your story to without fear of being judged?  Who would let you cry on their shoulder?  Who could you text or call at say 3am and have a listening ear?  That is just the very question I asked myself at work the other day – and the answer for me personally, the very high figure of four!

 friends

Four people in my life that I could consider a friend.  One of my friends goes back nearly 20 years.  20 years!  I sound old.  (Perhaps I am?)  Two of my other friends go back around 18 years.  We used to work together.  Of one of these friends, my spouse thinks we have an “odd” relationship, and yet we have been there for each other time and time again.  The other guy, we don’t see each other as much as we used to due to him moving out of town but when we see each other, it’s like we haven’t been apart.  It’s is never long before him and me are putting the world to right about various issues!  And my other and last friend, a very odd one this, this person I met by “accident” and not all that long ago.  I wasn’t looking for a friend.  It just … happened.  Organically you might say.  It is odd though because this person knows so much about me in such a short space of time.  We instantly “clicked”.  (Well, from my point of view we did!)   A person although I have known a very short space of time, compared to the others, has always been there for me, time after time, through thick and thin, good times and bad.

This post is just to simply say, “Thank you”.  Thank you to the four.  Life sometimes has been hard, really hard.  In the last year or so, particularly hard and challenging.  There have been times where the brown stuff has one and truly hit the fan, yet these four, at different times, have been alongside me to help me through it.  Times when I really didn’t know what to do or say.  When I didn’t know which way to turn, these guys have been there for me.   Thank you, thank you!  Although I have told my friends this face to face, I want to say it again, publically for all to see, “Thank you”.

I would urge you, if you don’t have someone you can call a friend, find one.  It’s an old saying that gets said time and time again, “A problem shared is a problem halved”, but it is oh so true.  These guys have been there for me, through thick and thin and if I can be of the same nature to any of the people who would consider me a friend, it would be my pleasure!

 

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true you’re a pal and a confidant. 

(Lyrics to the “Golden Girls” theme TV show)

Silence Is Not Oh So Quiet by Daniel McManus

I woke up one fateful Saturday morning the 14th of February to find an unexpected parcel sitting at the bottom of the front door. Rubbing my eyes, I trundled towards it and picked it up. As soon as I recognised the handwriting, I gasped and immediately took it to the living room and placed it in front of me on a low coffee table. Knowing what it is, I looked at it for a moment then took a deep breath and gently ripped it apart. After almost four months of tinnitus hell, I thought, at last! After I’d opened the parcel, I took the transparent object and connected it to the tiny equipment, inserted a small, silver circular battery inside the equipment and put it in my left ear.

Then I switched it on.

Suddenly, I was inundated with various sounds I hadn’t heard since November when I had lost my last hearing aid during a drunken shenanigan at a nightclub: the humming of traffic from the outside, the dialogues on television… The experience was simply indescribable. It was as though I had heard sounds for the first time in my life and it was almost impossible to conceive. Four months of silence was long enough for me to actually forget what certain noises had sounded like. I had even forgotten what my own voice had sounded like so when I heard myself speak for the first time in four months I was taken aback. ‘This is my voice?!’ I thought. I used to hate it! Now it doesn’t sound so bad! Oh, how I’ve missed sounds so much and I wanted to hear everything again, so the first thing I did was open the violin case and lift out the most sentimental item in my life – the only solace whenever I’m down. You seriously have no idea what it feels like to hear something you have a passion for again. I turned to YouTube and CDs to listen to a variety of music for a couple of hours just totally enjoying myself. I felt like the happiest person alive.

Then something hit me. I quickly ran to get my phone from my bedroom and flicked through the video clips. I stopped when I saw my baby niece. I sat down and played the clip I had recorded during my home visit last month. My eyes instantly filled with tears and I had a lump in my throat as I watched the clip and heard her gurgle playfully for the very first time in my life…

So, I guess this is what people mean when they say they cannot live without sounds – the voices of their loved ones and music in particular, the rain patting gently on the windows, the rhythmic thumps of a train as it slowly passes by, the roar of the thunder. For me, I’ve learned that you would have to go through a certain period of time without hearing anything at all to know what it truly is like and to completely understand why some things in life are so precious.

Silence but not really silence because the water is gently rippling and the breeze is whispering in your ears

Silence but not really silence because the water is gently rippling and the breeze is whispering in our ears

As I have been deaf since birth perpetual silence is something that is naturally all too easy for me to conceive. However, having been exposed to the very first sounds at a very young age meant I immediately became dependent upon them as I grew up. The fact is that the past four months have been the longest I’ve ever gone through without hearing anything at all. At first, I was naturally indifferent but as days turned into months I started to miss things I enjoy hearing more and more. I also had to broaden my visual awareness and peripheral vision to compensate for the lack of hearing and it wasn’t easy. There has been a few incidents where I was almost hit by cars because my eyes just simply got tired of constantly watching. You have to bear in mind that as a deaf person, I use my eyes all the time to communicate: reading sign language, lip-reading, which is an exhausting activity and can put a strain on your eyesight, looking out for strangers’ body language in situations where I would not hear public announcements (on the Tube for example) in case of unexpected changes, and so on. At the end of every single day, my eyes just wanted to sleep.

Further to this, I inevitably developed a life-draining condition – tinnitus: those annoying, incessant sounds of ringing, whistling and buzzing inside your head that drive you insane because they just never stop. Apparently, your brain is so used to hearing natural sounds that when you stop hearing them your brain, starved of sounds, starts to replace the absence of real sounds with ‘noises’ fed off by the tinnitus. So the perpetual silence is constantly blighted by those unpleasant ‘noises’.

So, you can imagine my utter joy upon the revelation that the four months of tinnitus hell was about to end when I finally put in my hearing aid, and I let out a long breath of relief.

After almost half a day of indulging myself in music, I stopped to take a break and sat down again. I smiled as I read my mother’s letter that came with the parcel because of her wise, motherly advice: “Now, look after it, son!”

And no doubt I intend to.

By Daniel McManus.