As a musician, hearing is the single most important part of my life. When I was in first school us kids would ask each other questions like: "If you HAD to lose a sense, which one would it be?" My answer would always be the same - anything but hearing! In my mind, a world without music is no world at all. It's hard to comprehend how the extraordinary 'deaf' composer Ludwig van Beethoven was still able to compose such magnificent pieces of music despite being robbed of hearing at the tender age of 26.
From a very young I've unfortunately suffered from lots ear infections which I blame entirely on the 4 hour long walks (at least I think they were 4 hour walks...) I was subjected to with my parents in the freezing cold. One time I was whinging so much from pain caused by cold gusts of wind in my ears, my parents actually hid from me when we were walking down a winding country lane... to be honest though, I don't blame them. I was always a very vocal child!
Hearing is definitely something we take for granted, along with everything else we are lucky enough to have. I remember an incident when I was 12 and I was getting incredibly frustrated with my friend who kept saying 'what?' and getting me to repeat myself over and over again. I jokingly replied 'you really need a hearing aid!' to which my friend replied 'I already have one' and promptly burst into tears. I have always felt absolutely terrible about this but of course we are all guilty of saying things absentmindedly, especially when it is something that we personally do not have problems with.
These memories came flooding back recently after learning of an incredible man called Mike Buss. He is an endurance athlete, taking on challenges such as running across the Sahara desert or the Canadian arctic. However he is very lucky to be here at all. In November 1998, when he serving in the army, he was very close to an IRA car bomb that went off and left him profusely deaf. Mike says:
"I was on a green partrol in Northern Ireland to Lisburn Barracks when while waiting for some of the guys to get back I was standing very close to the first of two carbombs that went off inside the barracks. It left me with tinnitus and heavily deaf in my left ear and quite bad in my right.
I was subsequently medically discharged from the army which left me depressed without meaning in life, no goal, no challenge, and in my opinion no life. So I drifted and ended up on the streets of London, where I lived for over 6months. "
I finally got myself off the streets determined to do something with myself and with entering the 2002 London Marathon I broke my first endurance world record and it just went on from there"
That is an understatement of magnificent proportions. He has now broken 47 world records despite his impediment (he has only recently had a hearing aid fitted as a video he produced alongside Dr Hilary Jones details) and is one of those people who is an example to us all. He certainly made my hearing problems feel rather insignificant and made me make two promises
1- Get a bit or perspective next time I have my parents make me go for a winter walk
2- Enter an ultra marathon
I think the first promise may be a bit easier to keep....