I never understood what the big deal was when people would cough. I remember as a young child coughing, my father would get very worried and mention that, perhaps, I should go see a doctor. I didn't feel sick. I would look at him with a very confused look; really, it was just a cough or two (okay, maybe three). I felt fine. Just a little cough, that's all.
There have countless times when I would see the look of horror on someone's face when a person would hack. They would even turn there head away from the hacker and scrunch up their shoulders as if trying to avoid getting the plague.
It would sound like a little muffle -- nothing big, nothing to react to.
That was my hearing life prior to getting the cochlear implants.
Now when I hear someone coughing, it really sounds awful. I become very concerned and wonder if that person is okay. Today, a student coughed. I could hear the deep huff he was taking right before he let out the hacking. I could hear that it was coming deep from the bottom of his lungs and out would come: ACK, ACK, huff, ack, ACK. I just stared at him, probably with a wild look on my face and waited until he was done. It was really only a few seconds. That sound, yes, that sounds like it hurts. My lungs and my stomach muscles hurt just from watching him. I asked him with a genuine concern if he was okay. He looked at me and smiled, and was very relaxed and went right back to work as if nothing happened. And, then he takes another huge huff and with an exhale, the coughing begins again. I noticed that he's using his hands. Oh good heavens, all that spit is going right onto his hands!!! I can almost hear all those sploshes of spit landing onto his hands after each exhale. Ack, splosh, ack, ack, splosh, huge huff, ack ack. Each ack means there's another spit sploshing onto his hands. I quickly tell him to cough into the corner of his arms. After the hacking had dies down, I made him wash him hands with soap and water. I was never one to worry about germs until I was able to hear hacking. But, really, did it always sound that harsh?
Another student thinks it's funny that he's coughing and then she decides to do a fake cough. Giggles and does that acking sound. Then he catches on and hacks after her; then, ta-da, there's a whole chorus of hackers in the classroom. My poor ears, that very sound is like someone scratching their nails on the chalkboard -- makes me shiver with discomfort. I quickly manage to get the class back in control. All is silent until the hacker hacks again, naturally and into his arms.
Now, I can understand why people have that look of horror when someone hacks. Not only that, I can see why that ack, ack sounds like someone could be sick.
Come follow Amy Pogrebin on her blog: www.365daysofhearing.wordpress.com