Yes, we all have a particular something, be it an ailment or imperfection, that we carry with us throughout our day-to-day lives. It could be asthma, color blindness, flat feet, eczema, poor vision, or a mental disorder (not talking about me). Well, you get the picture. Or, maybe you are perfect in every way in which case that would serve as your cross to bear: superior perfection. Hey, I didn’t want to leave anyone out of that “We all” statement I typed at the beginning. I have a few crosses. I’ll pause for just a moment while you compose yourself. That was quite a bombshell of truth I dropped on you.
Right there at the top of my list of crosses to bear is — hearing impairment. Frankly, hearing impairment seriously SUCKS!! I mean, it sucks through a tiny, tiny straw — which means it sucks extra, EXTRA extraordinarily super hard!
Speech contains a lot of high-frequency sounds and, lucky me, that’s precisely the portion of the auditory system that I don’t possess at all. If you look at my hearing test graph, the section for those high pitches is blank. No hearing ability found there. What did you say? I can’t hear you! And, while I do have hearing aids, they do not, let me repeat that — DO NOT — bring your hearing to the “normal” range or enable one to hear as if they had no impairment.
Yes, hearing aids do make speech louder and much easier to understand. Along with speech, however, they increase the volume of the wind, birds, humming fluorescent lights, the rustling of chip bags, tapping of pens, the squeaky wheels of stretchers moving down the hall, and the like. Those sounds, along with my favorite, the popping of gum, can be at such levels of audible annoyance, I want to take the aids out of my ears and stomp them into a pulp! What was I saying? Oh! If one more person asks me after I didn’t hear what they just said to me, “Do you have your hearing aids in?” Aargh!! They are not a cure for hearing impairment, they’re only a tool to help us cope as best we can, and some days I don’t cope very well.
If someone is speaking to me, they must be facing me so I can watch their mouth move during our conversation. I can’t communicate by reading lips alone, mind you, but seeing a mouth move during speech does help me to understand better. If you were to be talking to me, then turn around and walk away while you continue speaking, don’t expect me to hear what you say. It’s not happening. I envy people with normal hearing, primarily how they can be engaged in one conversation and hear something in another discussion and respond to it. I literally can only hear one speaker at a time.
It takes an incredible amount of mental energy to focus on hearing people speak to me or around me. It’s exhausting. I used to fake it, years ago, and nod my head and hope it was appropriate to the conversation. Then, I graduated to telling them, “I don’t have good hearing, so you’ll need to face me and speak up if you want me to hear your words.” Nowadays, I may do a little of both, or I may employ my third tactic — not listening. Honestly, I very likely miss out on 40-50% of what’s being said to me or around me. And, whispers, I can’t make out a single word of that noise. I tell people all the time, “Go ahead and whisper about me; I can’t hear it anyway.”
This cross has been with me, well, probably my entire life. Like, I’ve always had a hard time understanding song lyrics. While I know all the words to several songs, most often, I only know the chorus parts. Since the invention of the internet and YouTube videos “with lyrics,” I’ve been able to sing along to a lot more songs. So, that’s nice.
It’s not all horrible — not being able to hear like a person with good, healthy hearing. Sometimes, it’s a blessing. It’s like on the Netflix series Grace and Frankie, one of my favorite shows, when the hearing-impaired Frankie tells Grace, “I’m never getting a hearing device. I think I’m better off missing most of what you say.” That, and as you can probably imagine, the things that I hear incorrectly are plentiful, daily, and at times, quite entertaining. Once, while watching TV with my husband, he quoted a commercial by saying, “Another day, another scratch.” I responded, “Something’s digging in the trash?” This man truly deserves a medal, a statue, or a holiday named after him. Most likely, all three! He deals with this cross of mine every stinkin’ day of his life. Bless his heart.
Sometime last year, our granddaughter, Emily, asked me, “Do you remember the [blah blah blah — words that I don’t understand] Internet channel?” Okay, I thought, I’ve got this one. I questioned her with, “Daisy — does the Internet?” Surely she wasn’t seriously talking about internet porn! Emily, being very used to Gammaw’s mishearing her, said with a smile, “The Daily Dose of Internet channel.” Shwoo…thank goodness it wasn’t porn.
But, my favorite episode of “I can’t hear you” would have to be a conversation I had with one of our grandson’s while we were swimming. I knew Conner’s birthday was coming up, so I asked him, “What kind of birthday [party] do you want?” He said something that I couldn’t hear (shocking), and I said, “What?” He repeated his answer, which I still didn’t fully understand, but I asked him, “Five — friends?” He again tells me his full, entire answer (he was so patient), and I still didn’t catch it. He repeated his answer, but just a little bit louder for his hearing-impaired grandmother. Not believing what I’d heard and being semi-reluctant to inquire further, I asked him, “Did you — just say — ‘Five nice ass friends?'” Visibly tickled, and through his giggles, he answered me, with extra enunciation and volume, “Five. Nights. At. Freddy’s!” In my defense, all that could’ve been avoided if grandma could wear her hearing aids while swimming!
Yeah, hearing impairment SUCKS. It sucks through a teeny, tiny, minuscule straw!!