You might be at the hospital, deep inside its maze of doorways and corridors, sitting in a small windowless room, bribing your unslept and cranky toddler to keep quiet with a crusty red jellybean found swimming around the bottom of your bag, totally missing the irony of trying your best to listen to the audiologist tell you about your older son’s hearing test results, when inspiration strikes you, and you’re lucky that your son has perfect hearing after all because you’ve completely missed the end of the audiologist’s speech.
It’s sitting there, right in front of you. A box, but not just any box. An idea, but not just any idea.
The little cell-like room is so dominated by this box that essentially you’re not sitting in a room at all, but in the corner of a pokey L-shaped hallway created by the cube-like fixture. In fact, this box might be considered as another room entirely.
The box is adorned along one side with large pastel-coloured stickers of princesses, flowers, horse-drawn carriages and – oddly – little green aliens, below a token window that hints at the hidden world inside. The other wall of the box is almost entirely consumed by a heavy metal door that would not seem out of place on the lower decks of a cargo ship.
Earlier, the audiologist had ushered you and your son inside this box, which you found to be sparsely adorned with two plain chairs and an over-sized computer perched on an under-sized desk. A thick carpet covered the floor of the tiny cubicle, barely 1.5m along each length. Cosy to the point of being cramped.
But it was when the audiologist pulled the door firmly closed behind you that the box’s magic became apparent. Not a sound, not a whisper, not an echo, not a hum. Nothing was getting in, and nothing was getting out. You were mesmerised by the complete absence of noise.
This box. This sound-proof haven. Yes, this is precisely what your house wants. This is exactly what your husband desperately needs.
Noise is a massive trigger for his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Your husband’s neurones have been so scrambled by PTSD that his brain can no longer distinguish between the shriek of a child play-fighting and the scream of a child dying.
And yet noise is a massive certainty with your three young children. Your house unfortunately overflows with roars and rows, bangs and bellows, squawks and shouts, and general pandemonium on a daily basis.
Your husband often arrives at the dinner table equipped with earplugs to help buffer the assault. He treasures his noise-cancelling headphones as one would a lifeline. His car parked outside in the driveway often provides a temporary escape from the raucous inside. You constantly try to keep the noise levels under control when he’s home. Some days his threshold is high, but some days his threshold is low. And some days his threshold is non-existent.
At all costs, you just want to avoid the thunderous and threatening voice that will inevitably cut through when the noise pushes him too far. And you decide to make a plan. It wouldn’t be a cheap endeavour, but what price do you put on recovery?
It would be his peaceful place. His silent sanctuary. And he would love it.
(original post published 24th June 2016)