Walking, Talking, and Hearing

Meandering Through A Hearing World

Walking, Talking, and Hearing

Like many Baby Boomers, I value my health. I strive to eat well and exercise and get wellness checks. I want to work at preventing the preventable and remain in the best physical shape possible, given my age. One of my health habits is taking a morning walk. I’ve always loved walking, being outside, enjoying the bright Southwest Florida sunshine. There’s always a breeze, beautiful flowers, the swaying of palm branches. On my route, I pass a large pond where I find egrets, ducks, and wood storks. Occasionally, a hawk or eagle will swoop down, grabbing breakfast. When passing under the grand southern oaks that shade the sidewalk, I hear birds singing and squawking. I use my walking time to come up with ideas for my writing projects or solving those inevitable mini crises that seem to invade my life. Before I know it an hour flies by, and I’m heading back home refreshed.

Some hearing practitioners proclaim that exercise might improve hearing because physical activity increases blood flow to all of the body’s limbs and organs, including the inner ear. Those who suffer from hearing loss are prone to stress and depression. Many medical practitioners suggest exercise for its meditative benefits, noting that endorphins sooth and calm. Focusing on nature allows you private time away from your daily routine and your troubles. When I keep up with my daily walking routine, I notice an improvement in how I look and feel.

But walking or any kind of exercise brings on problems for those who suffer from hearing loss. Hearing aids and sweat don’t mix. Get a hearing aid wet enough and it will shut down. These days, most hearing aids are constructed to withstand some moisture without harming the delicate circuitry. Some hearing aid manufacturers offer moisture sleeves, which fit snugly over your aids, preventing them from getting wet.

For a while I wasn’t wearing my aids when I walked. If I ran into someone I knew, I would simply say hello and move on. If a friend or neighbor wanted to talk, I’d have to confess that I couldn’t hear them. My new aids are more moisture resistant so I do wear them on walks, which allows me to hear nature’s symphony. And if I’m lucky enough to meet up with someone I know, I can stop for a chat.

But even with my hearing aids, I have found that walking, talking, and hearing don’t always mix. The other day, while I was out, enjoying a stroll, I ran into a neighbor, his wife, and their dog. When noticing I was alone, they invited me to join them. They know about my hearing loss, but I think they were surprised by the number of times I stopped to face them so I could hear something they said. In spite of those walking pauses, they were patient and kind. None of us were concerned about hearing loss, only enjoying each other’s company.

From November through May Southwest Florida has reasonable temperatures, low humidity, and hardly any rain. Some call this area paradise. I call it a walker’s paradise. A nice long walk eases me into my day and makes my meandering through the hearing world, a little more pleasant.

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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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