Meandering Through The Hearing World

How You Sound to Others

One morning, I was giving my husband my opinion about an editorial I had read in the newspaper. Before I finished saying what was on my mind, he interrupted me. I was incredulous and a bit angry and said so. This isn’t the first time you’ve interrupted me, I told him.


My husband being the sweet guy that he is, listened to my rant calmly. Then he told me that he often doesn’t have a clue when I’ve finished saying something. This has been going on for a while, he said. I have to guess if you are done speaking.  


I sat there bewildered. How could he not know? We’ve been married for twenty-one years and knew each other for ten years prior to being married. We worked together. Surely, he could tell whether or not I finished speaking. 


He insisted that something about my voice and speech patterns have changed. He said I no longer speak with the usual inflections that let listeners know I’ve come to an end of a verbal thought. Was this true? I was having a hard time accepting that my voice had changed that much. As his words sank in, and after I realized he was probably right, I did some research. I discovered that over time and as one’s hearing loss increases in severity, it is possible to develop a flat tone with little or or no inflection. That is because we often can’t hear ourselves in any kind of reasonable way.


Suddenly what was happening between my husband and I made sense. I recalled being out with friends and having them tell me that I was speaking louder than normal. At other times, people have said, I am hard to hear because the tone of my voice is too soft. I recognized my own inability to hear the tone and volume of my voice.


As I have often said, recognizing that you have a problem frees you to do something about it. Most audiologists and ENT physicians agree that the first step to better hearing and listening is to treat your hearing loss with the best possible hearing devices. If you are not currently treating your hearing loss than you should do so. 


But treating hearing loss is only one step. If you wonder about the sound of your voice, ask those around you to be honest about how you sound, particularly if you use a mini mic in noise or when you are conversing sans background noise. You may not realize how loud you might be talking over your mini mic or how softly you sound when in a quiet hearing situation. 


If you feel your speech patterns have changed, ask your ENT physician or audiologist for a referral to a speech therapist. Most insurance plans will pay for this kind of visit with a doctor’s order. A speech therapist can work with your audiologist to come up with a plan to help you utilize your hearing devices to correct voice abnormalities.


Treating your hearing loss with the best hearing devices you can afford is vital, but remember, other problems may occur as your hearing loss progresses. Recognize that when your hearing loss changes, you might have to seek the guidance of professionals to help keep your hearing and ability to communicate in tip-top shape. Giving yourself the opportunity to hear and be heard is the best way to meander through the hearing world. 


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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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