This morning, it happened again. I interviewed someone with a great story and started to choke up. It starts with a prickling in my eyes and then it threatens to turn into tears. If I’m face-to -face with the person, I’m going to have to blow my nose. Sorry.

I’ve had the privilege of talking to some people for whom modern medicine has made a real difference. Today, it was a man whose cancer was arrested early, while he was in his 30s. He went from assuming the news meant death to a life that opened back out into limitless possibilities for his family, his career, and for those he is now able to help.

Another time, I talked to a woman whose Parkinson’s was made immensely more tolerable with a brain implantation. The surgeons mapped out her brain and then, on a future visit, put the technology in place. Not only does she not shake, but she looks up and looks people in the eye, walks with confidence and has her life back.

The two that moved me the most, however, when my eyes filled up and I had to wipe them fast so that tears didn’t spill (Dammit, Jim! I’m the interviewer, not the interviewee!) were the interviews I had with two adult men who had their hearing restored after childhood, their adolescent years and even parenthood. They both had soft and gentle voices and were the kindest, most humble gentlemen. They suffered from isolation their whole lives – not around the circle near the fire, as one man described it, but just outside the circle. The other had been an excellent student but as his hearing deteriorated, his choice of jobs whittled down to nothing and his future narrowed.

But now the world was opening for them. They had agency and self-determination and could hear birds and the voices of grandchildren and laughter and …

No, I’m fine, really. Just got something in my eye.

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