We were invited to dinner at friend’s house the other night. Our job was to bring the wine. We were treated to a lovely salmon dinner, a corn and red pepper salad with lime dressing, a tomato salad and ice cream and cookies for desert. Delightful food, good friends, some fine wine, what a lovely evening.
And it was, except for my hearing. Before dinner, we sat in the living room, discussing books and the latest news. As ideas flowed, one to another, I realized I was losing track of the conversation. Instead of speaking up and saying I couldn’t hear, I shut down, sitting back and daydreaming while taking in the lovely view of a lake and fountain outside. My friends must have noticed me drifting off because they tried pulling me back into the conversation. Because I couldn’t jump in, it was soon evident that I wasn’t hearing nor paying attention.
My friends and husband were making an effort, sadly I was not. I had my mighty mini mic with me. I could have taken it from my purse and put it on the coffee table. I’m sure it would have helped. But for some reason I didn’t budge. My husband and I have known these friends for some time. They’ve seen me use my mini mic and have applauded my efforts to hear. Yet for some crazy reason something came over me. I wanted to hear like everyone else, without the aid of technology.
This was an unrealistic expectation. I suffer from profound hearing loss. I see the facts of my situation every time I look at my audiogram. Hearing issues stare me in the face when the ladies at the supermarket cash register say something I can’t understand. I know my hearing loss is there. There is no quick fix that will awaken my ears to the hearing world. I knew I had to learn from my mistakes. I vowed to do better.
The other day I was in a department store buying makeup. The woman behind the counter was describing a new mascara to me in speech that was as fast as cars racing down the Indianapolis 500. I looked at her and said, “I have a hearing problem. Could you speak a little more slowly?” “Of course,” she replied.
It was that simple. Asking for help. Using the tools you have, hearing aids, Cochlear Implants or peripheral devices to hear. I’ve been without good hearing since I was twenty six. At age sixty four, I have to learn to manage expectations. My issues with hearing will be with me for the rest of my days. It will be up to me make the effort to hear and to make my hearing loss more visible. We have to be responsible for ourselves. We have to let others know what we can and cannot hear. Yes, we can get by and we don’t have to do it alone. With a little help from ourselves, and from friends, family and technology, we can adapt and find way to hear.