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It’s something that happens to me about once a year or so. The specialist says it’s nothing to do with cleaning my ears or not, it’s just that some people’s ears have a tendency to produce more wax than others. I even seem to remember my late father suffering from a similar problem in his advanced old age. But when it happens it’s pretty horrible.

We were staying in Zikhron Ya’akov, looking after our three grandsons there while our daughter and son-in-law were abroad for a week, taking a well-earned holiday. Towards the end of our stay I noticed that I was not hearing out of one of my ears. How did I know? Because suddenly all sound seemed to be coming from my right-hand side, even though the source of the sound may have been somewhere to my left.

That’s alright, I thought. At least I’ve still got my other ear. But past experience has taught me that if one ear goes, the other one is sure to follow suit. And in due course, after a day or two, it did.

Suddenly I had to keep asking my grandsons to repeat what they had said. As everyone knows, teenage boys mumble and have an aversion to opening their mouths when they speak, but this was ridiculous. It was only when I saw one of them mouthing the word ‘breakfast’ at me that I realized something was seriously wrong.

Soon everyone around me knew that I could hardly hear anything. People complained about my having the radio or TV blaring when I could barely distinguish what anyone was saying.

The worst thing was that when we got back home we had tickets to take our two granddaughters to a concert. This one was in the framework of the Abu Ghosh choral music festival that is held on various occasions during the year at the picturesque village near our home.

We went to the concert, but the choir was barely audible to me. And when the conductor turned round to make an announcement about a change in the programme I did not catch a single word.

After the concert was over and we returned our two young ladies to their home I decided that I could not go on like that. I had made an appointment to see an Ear-Nose-Throat specialist the following week, but I could not bear the thought of carrying on for several days. So Yigal made some phonecalls (I being unable to communicate with anyone by phone), and we decided to try and have my ears attended to the following morning.

At 8 a.m. the next day we presented ourselves at the E.N.T. clinic in town where Yigal, acting as my interpreter, said that this was a case of First Aid. Be advised, those are the code words that will make any medical provider deal with you immediately.

And so it was. The nurse sent us to the doctor. The doctor did his stuff. It wasn’t pleasant, but it did the trick. Suddenly I could hear again. There were birds singing in the trees, I could hear what people were saying to me, and I didn’t have to have the radio turned up to full volume any more. What bliss!

Such a little thing, hearing, but so vital for the quality of life, for communicating with our fellow-beings and especially for someone like me who needs to hear music at all times.

And above all, I kept thinking, poor, poor Beethoven. What he must have suffered!