A Day in a Hearing Life
People often ask me what it’s like to have a profound hearing loss. I should be full of words and thoughts but mostly I don’t know how to answer this question. I live with a gamut of issues while trying to embrace hope.
Living without normal hearing can be frustrating, annoying, and exhausting. There are times when I’ve mourned my hearing loss and felt cheated and betrayed. It isn’t a medical problem that can be helped with pills, diet and exercise. It’s the life changing situation that we who suffer from hearing loss must learn to live with.
There are days when I don’t feel any different than anyone else. I’m grateful for all the technology that is around. I am astounded that we now have tiny chips in our aids that hurl natural sounds into our ears, quickly and efficiently.
I’ve lived with hearing loss for nearly forty years. In the beginning, my hearing loss was a minor issue and had little to no impact on my life. As one year slid into another, I began to notice changes. It was little things at first, I found myself asking people to repeat, particularly on the telephone. Then I noticed that women’s voices and high-pitched sounds were difficult to hear. I started cranking up the volume on the television. I always loved listening to music, but there came a time, when I could no longer hear the words to a song.
I consulted with ENT physicians and audiologists. I got my hands on hearing literature. I found devices and aids, marvelous gadgets that helped improve my hearing. As new technology emerged, I changed my hearing aids, purchasing the right ones for my type of loss.
But even with the best hearing aids that money can buy, I find my life impacted by my inability to hear. My morning routine begins with putting on my aids. On my best days, I try to make sure that my phone and aids are paired so I can receive phone calls. After breakfast, I exercise and then come home and shower, which of course necessitates the removal of my aids. After toweling off and dressing, I have to remember to put on my aids and once again make sure my aids and phone are one. However, things can easily fall apart. I might get a phone call while showering, (which happens more than I care to admit). I can barely hear my phone ringing when wearing my aids, without them, I always miss calls. Luckily, I opted into a feature that my cell company offered. My voicemails are transcribed, which allows me to easily read my messages.
I am a big iPad user. I read books, articles, listen to podcasts, and read the newspaper online. If I listen to anything on my iPad, my phone is instantly disconnected from my aids. If I have to make a call or if one comes in, I find myself scrambling to reconnect my phone and aids.
Then there is the everyday grind of using a washing machine, clothes dryer, dishwasher and other household appliances that make our lives easier. The trouble is manufacturers have made these machines “quiet” and for those of us who lack good hearing, it is difficult to know if these machines are running. There are times when I think I’ve started one machine or another, only to find it was never turned on. There’s background noise at parties, in restaurants, and indiscernible public messages in airports and train stations. There are store clerks with sweet soft voices or those who speak faster than superman can fly.
I have days when I’m frustrated by not hearing the doorbell and realizing I’ve asked someone to repeat three times and I still don’t know what they said.
There are days when I feel left out, literally locked out of the hearing world. In between there are wonderful and great days. The kind when things come together. I have days when a sympathetic someone talks a little slower and a little louder as they sit with me so I can read their lips. Those kind of days reaffirm that I will get by, that everything, no matter how difficult, will work its way out as I meander through the hearing world.