Hearing Loss World…The People Who Understand!

Right before Christmas my husband and I attended a neighborhood party. Our lovely neighbor, Susan, always throws a party on December 23, inviting everyone on our street as well as her friends and family. We always enjoy going to her home because of her great hospitality. Though I know there will be the stress of trying to hear above many voices and background noise, I always remind myself that it’s worth going because you never know who will be there. I never know who I might meet.

This year was no different. We walked into her beautiful courtyard-styled home decorated with lovely lights, and of course, a large Christmas tree. After we gave our friend a big hug and set down our gift to her, we mingled. It was a delight to run into a woman I know who suffers from hearing loss.

We started chatting. I told her about my new Oticon hearing aids and she told me about her new in-the-ear aids, which were helping her a great deal. After sipping wine, we were hungry and moved to a buffet table. Nearby a pianist was playing “Silver Bells.” I love the melody, but the music and the chorus of voices of the other guests created a background noise barrier.

I remember working hard to concentrate on what she was saying. I remember feeling overwhelmed. I kept staring at the pianist wishing he would take a break. At one point I juggled my wine and purse and reset my hearing aid app for background noise. She must have seen my grimace because my friend looked up at me and said, “What wouldn’t you give to get him to stop playing for five minutes.”

“Twenty bucks, easy,” I said.

“I’d up it to forty,” she said.

We laughed as we knew we wouldn’t act on our silliness. But I felt like I had a comrade-in-arms. We moved away from the noise and were able to continue our conversation outside where the background noise wasn’t so bad. Though we were not in the thick of the party, we still enjoyed chatting and we found that people who knew us, wandered over. We spent a lovely evening catching up with neighbors and friends.

Before I left, I thanked her for our chat and told her I always enjoyed talking with her. She smiled and said, “You know it’s always nice to share with someone who truly understands what it is like to have a hearing loss.”

And so it goes. Good friends, those who truly understand or work to understand the problems people with hearing loss face are little miracles. My New Year’s wish is to find more of these kind souls.

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Linda Bilodeau

I’ve grappled with hearing loss since 1978. Through it all, I’ve faced periods of denial, acceptance, curiosity, trust and hope. But more often than not, I’ve felt annoyed, angry and frightened. I’ve encountered despair, loneliness and envy. I’ve experienced panic attacks. I’ve met understanding people, kind souls who helped me a great deal and others who thought I had nothing short of an invisible plague. As a way of coming to terms with my hearing loss, I’ve decided to put my feelings about my disability down on paper. My hope is to better understand myself and perhaps you’ll find a little something in my meanderings that will help you, too.

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