Life Stories #71: Katherine Bouton

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Life Stories: Katherine Bouton
photo: Joyce Ravid

In this episode of Life Stories, I chat with Katherine Bouton, who draws heavily upon her personal experience of hearing loss in Shouting Won’t Help, a consideration of the hearing loss problems that, at varying levels of severity, affect fifty million Americans. Since the book’s first publication in 2013, Bouton has become a vocal advocate on the subject of hearing loss, a development she explained had much to do with how her life changed while she was working on it:

“I evolved emotionally throughout the whole course of writing this book. I started to write the proposal in 2010… I worked all that year through on the proposal, which became… Initially, it was full of anger and self-pity and fury at everybody who didn’t understand what I was going through, what my hearing loss was like. As I came to the point where I was ready to distribute the proposal, my agent said, ‘This is really great, I think you have a selling proposal here, but you gotta find a happy ending for this.’ So I thought really hard about this. What kind of happy ending is there to hearing loss?

But, actually, there is. I realized I had become much, much closer to my friends. I held everybody at bay for a long time because I couldn’t hear them, and I didn’t want to talk about it. Once I started to talk about it, my friendships just became much more intimate… My relationships with my family—my husband, my two now-grown children—had been very frayed by the fact that I couldn’t hear them and I was angry all the time. So as I put the book together, and over the next year and a half as I was writing it, I was also learning to hear better [with a cochlear implant]… So I was relearning to hear at the same time that I was learning to deal with my hearing loss, and I learned a lot about how many mistakes I had made and how bad it is for your own psyche and your physical and social and emotional well-being to deny hearing loss.”

Listen to Life Stories #71: Katherine Bouton (MP3 file); or download this file by right-clicking (Mac users, option-click). Or subscribe to Life Stories in iTunes, where you can catch up with earlier episodes and be alerted whenever a new one is released. (And if you are an iTunes subscriber, please consider rating and reviewing the podcast!)

26 May 2014 | life stories |