Meandering Through A Hearing World

Hearing Mishaps

Have you ever had a hearing mishap? A time when you thought you heard what someone said, only to find you were wrong? To my amazement I’ve had more hearing dramas than I care to remember.

Not long ago, my husband and I attended a dinner dance with a group of friends. We ended up in an impossible hearing environment, sitting at a table for ten with a band close by, belting out tunes from the seventies and eighties. Lively souls filled every available chair, all chatting at once. Waiters circulated taking orders. You can imagine the noise.

In spite of the din, I had a fantastic time. I had met the person sitting next to me before and thought I remembered her name. She’s a retired nurse, very friendly, and vivacious. After mentioning my hearing troubles, she faced me and spoke slowly and deliberately. I thought I was doing well, conversing with her about kids, grandkids, pets, and our former work lives, in between dancing and eating a nice dinner. The next day my husband couldn’t stop talking about our fun evening. He asked me how I liked talking with Joanne.

“Who’s Joanne?” I asked.
“She was sitting next to you,” he told me. “You spent all evening talking with her.”
“Oh, goodness. I kept calling her Ann.”
“Maybe she goes by Ann,” my husband said, laughing. (After twenty years of marriage, he knows how my hearing works or doesn’t!)

My husband asked what Joanne and I talked about. After relating all that I remembered, I said, “My audiologist told me that I only hear between fifty to sixty percent of what is being said. I wonder how much of what I just told you about my conversation with Joanne is fact.”
“What do you mean?” my husband asked.
“I was calling her by the wrong name,” I said. “Maybe I didn’t hear all she said, and I’m only filling in the blanks. My way of trying to make sense of it all.”
“You’re not sure what she said?”
“I hear what I hear,” I said, shrugging.

My husband patted my shoulder. “You had a good time,” he said. “That’s what’s important.”
And so it goes. While meandering through the hearing world, I realize I’m not always aware of what people say to me. Yet Joanne (aka Ann) didn’t seem to mind. I either answered her appropriately or she let our discourse take us where it went. Either way, we managed conversation in hellish noise. I assume she enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed hers.

When we suffer from hearing loss, all we can do is try. If now and then, life tosses in an opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine, a fine dinner, and some music, why not? Go out and have a good time without worrying about what you hear. You might end up dancing the night away without a hearing care in the 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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