‘The Silence Spread’: What It’s Like Losing Your Hearing in Your 20s

When I was 23, I stopped hearing my manager’s voice from behind his Mac monitor. A new employee at a fancy consulting firm in Manhattan, I quickly stood whenever I sensed a vague sound traveling from my boss’ corner, preparing to lip read over his Thunderbolt screen. I couldn’t understand why he had such a bad case of mumbling, which is what I assumed the problem must be.

Then the silence spread. I completely missed jokes my colleagues exchanged at desk pods behind me, puzzled when I’d turn around to find them all laughing.