Coronavirus has infected America. For the past few weeks, we’ve watched our big and beautiful country go on lock down. Schools, restaurants, and places of businesses have closed. We are being asked to hunker down at home as much as possible. When out, we are told to keep six feet away from other people. Wash your hands has become the new national moto.

Living through these unprecedented times creates difficulties for those of us with hearing loss. I use my computer, television, and iPad to keep up with the latest developments here in Southwest Florida and nationally. If you are not already equipped, television adapters can help you hear breaking news events as these devices stream sound directly into hearing aids or cochlear implants. I recently looped my family room and listen to the news with astonishing clarity.

Some in the workforce have been asked to work from home, producing new hearing challenges. As telephone conversations and teleconferences replace in-person meetings, home workers will need to figure out how they are going to hear. I do a lot of volunteer work and to keep up with meetings, I’ve been using my iPhone which is directly paired with my aids. If you do not have made-for-iPhone aids or implants, there are go-between Bluetooth devices which can create connectivity between aids, implants and smartphones. Check with your audiologist or with your hearing aid or implant manufacturer to see what is available for you. Many who suffer from hearing loss get by with captioned phones. Those services are available for both landlines and smart phones.

Now that we are isolating, we aren’t socializing. I’ve been home all week, forgoing my usual workouts at the local gym, which is closed. Our Florida governor mandated that all restaurants be shuttered except for takeout services. My husband and I have cancelled social outings. We’ve chosen not to attend church services. Our one outdoor activity is taking a daily two or three mile walk. We are over sixty, as are most of our friends. To protect ourselves and those closest to us, we are not inviting anyone into our home until the number of cases of coronavirus diminishes. We miss our friends and family. We’re keeping in touch by phone, texting, and email. During these trying times, it’s the best we can do.

For those of us with hearing loss, this national emergency has brought more stress into our already difficult lives. When you’re searching for chicken and pasta sauce in the supermarket and not finding what you need, when you’re in a check-out line for thirty minutes, worried about disease transmission, our bodies respond with a rush of adrenalin, leaving one in a state where it’s difficult to focus, and thus affecting our hearing abilities.

My niece wrote me a note the other day. She said that previous generations were called to fight wars, and we’re being called to sit on the couch. We can do this, she said with a big exclamation point. She’s so right. We can do this, in spite of our hearing woes. As we meander through the hearing world, we can keep ourselves safe and informed, using the best hearing tools at our disposal.

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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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