New scientific techniques may restore the hearing of millions of deaf people, but Jessica Fellowes doesn't want it.Well, that’s her right, of course. Most won’t agree, but no-one’s forcing this decision on her. Which is as it should be.
The news that deaf people can hope to have their hearing restored thanks to a groundbreaking gene therapy will have up to one in five of us breaking out the champagne. As someone who has worn hearing aids since the age of two, you would think I'd be one of them but strangely,
I'm not. An integral part of me, I can no more contemplate the loss of my deafness than that of my right leg.
Hence, various attempts to cure my ears have been tried: grommets, acupuncture and even a long, oily massage in Sri Lanka. But the only thing to make a real difference was five years ago when I at last acquired a pair of digital aids. When I first wore them, I admit, I sobbed as someone reborn. The world simply came alive: the words on the radio, the birds on the trees, even the click-click of the car indicator.Hmm, odd way to look at it. Is there something wrong with being a ‘normal person’?
But at the same time as revelling in this new wall of sound was a worry: would I now be a normal person?
You see, I was brought up to feel special for having special needs. Without them I worry I would be just another ordinary person doing ordinary things. I love it when people exclaim that they hadn't realised and they look at me anew - as someone who has overcome great problems and managed to function successfully in the world.Well, I’ve seen it all now….
Nor do I understand how everyone else copes with noise 24/7. My happiest moments are spent pottering around my flat in total silence, the outside world unable to encroach on my peace. I am able to get completely lost in a book and never have an interrupted night's sleep. But most of all, I am proud of my parents and friends for the way they handle it, never allowing my deafness to let me feel less than entirely good about myself.Ummm….no further comment!
It has undoubtedly made me a nicer and more sympathetic person.