I am a holiday gal. When the first cool northern breezes start blowing in Southwest Florida, I think about Thanksgiving and Christmas, decorating, parties, and food. All the merriment that comes with the holiday season involves concerts, church going, and family and friends gathering. There’s the shopping for food and gifts. Holidays take a toll on those of us with hearing loss. How do you manage holiday parties, big family gatherings and noisy stores when you don’t hear well?
I was raised on the idea that we do best by helping ourselves. I’ve lived by those words since my hearing has declined. I’ve researched technological solutions such as the latest in hearing aids, the best ear molds, voice to text options for my IPhone voice messages. I spent time with a speech therapist and downloaded some helpful hearing apps to keep my hearing as sharp as it can be. I try to socialize and not be a hermit even if the experience is at times overwhelming and exhausting. I wear my hearing aids from the time I get up in the morning until bedtime.
My efforts pay off though I know my hearing will always be less than normal. Even with top-of-the-line hearing aids and accessories I still miss some of what is being said. I’m told a cochlear implant would help but even with that technology, my hearing will never be normal. I find my forever lack of hearing frustrating but know I am not alone. Recently I’ve been communicating with a woman I met. She told me her not-so-great hearing declined even further after an infection affected her middle-ear bones. She’s tried many solutions and feels as frustrated as I do when she can’t hear in a noisy restaurant or in situations where background noise blanks out someone’s voice. O how I empathize with her. We share war stories about going out with other couples and dealing with soft-spoken women acquaintances. She tells me the difficulties of trying to hear on the phone and how isolated she sometimes feels. We share what we’ve discovered on line or from a doctor or audiologist. And she always ends our conversations with: I enjoy talking with someone who understands what it’s like not to hear.
This year as in previous years, I’ll attend holiday concerts and parties. I invited a gang of friends for Christmas dinner, a sure to be fun, but noisy experience. I will wear my devices and use my accessories and apps through it all. I will carry extra batteries. I will rest when I can, eat well and exercise, doing everything I can to stay healthy and alert. When the music and dancing starts, when voices rise in chorus, I want to hear every sound and be part of what I consider the most wonderful time of the year.