It Comes With The Job
March 17, 2008
Ever since I was a kid, I dreamt of becoming one of two things: 1) An Astronaut, or 2) A Rock Photographer. Once I found out that I needed to join the Air Force to become an Astronaut, I pretty much threw that idea out the window. I opted for job number two, although after college I almost went to Law School…man, what a mistake that would have been.
I started going to shows and shooting shows when I was an early teen. What could be better than making a living going to rock shows? Pretty much nothing. But, as life has taught us, with the good comes the bad. Over the last few years, I have discovered one of the “bads” that comes with my job.
I first noticed it when my wife and I went to dinner with some friends. The restaurant was crowded and noisy. I found it strange that my wife was throwing me some ugly faces as she sat next to me. As the evening went on, she started telling our friends things that I normally would have told them, almost answering for me. At one point, my wife asked me why I was ignoring one of our friends. I had no idea what she was talking about…I wasn’t ignoring anybody.
We continued with dinner and I became terrified. I could hardly hear a word from our friend who was seated right across from me. I could see his lips moving, but I could hardly hear a word. I could pick up a word hear and there. Sometimes the words I thought I was hearing were completely wrong.
As I became aware of my hearing problem, I noticed that certain tones, certain voices, certain sounds were lost to me. If a guys voice was Low, I could hear it. If it was High, I could hear it. But if it fell somewhere in between, forget it…I couldn’t hear it. My ears could pick up the sounds of silverware hitting and scraping the plates, but I could not hear the waiter asking me for my order.
It got progressively worse. My wife and I were watching the movie Shallow Hal. There is a scene where Hal first sees his love-to be and he tells his friend, “…She’s witty.” I asked my wife, “How does he know she’s witty, he has never even spoken to her. My wife gave me the bad news, “He didn’t say she is witty, he said she is pretty.” I knew I had a problem, and it was getting worse. My wife pointed out that I was saying “What?” or “What was that?” or “I didn’t hear that, sorry” etc, over and over again.
I finally decided that I needed to get my hearing checked. These are the results from that test. When the ear doctor approached me with the results, I could tell from the look on his face that it was not good news. He asked me, “What kind of work do you do for a living? Are you around loud sounds?” I explained to him that I am a rock photographer and that I am at concerts often – up in the front of the stage, sometimes on the stage. He then asked me, “Can you ask your boss if you could not be around those loud concerts anymore, or maybe reduce the concerts to a few times a year?” I explained to him that I am my own boss and there was no way that I could get away from concerts, it was my life and that is what I do and I love it.
He pulled out my test results and went over them with me. He pointed out that my hearing is great in all areas and tones until we get to a certain mid-range area – then my hearing dramatically drops in both ears (I circled those areas in red on the closed up image). These are the areas where many people’s voices seem to fall. I asked the doctor what I could do besides stay away from concerts. He advised for me to wear earplugs. I explained to him that I always wear earplugs – religiously. He continued on to explain more about my hearing loss. I asked him that if I could cut down on the loud concerts, how long it would take for my hearing to return to normal. This is when I thought I was going to faint. He hung his head sadly and could not look me in the eye. Still with his head down, he said. “Your hearing loss is very serious and irreversible. There is nothing that can be done for you. I’m very sorry.” I felt like the guy just told me I had cancer and only had a month to live.
So, for the rest of my life I need to have my hearing checked twice a year to track the loss. Most likely I will have to wear a hearing aid when I get older. My love for music and rock photography is so strong that I am willing to live with that. I actually saw some pretty cool looking hearing aids at Costco…hahaha.
Kevin Estrada ~