It CAN’T happen to you…….

This will make you KISS your hearing aids!

The Forgotten Superhero

Last night:

Super Hearing Boy (SHB): “I’m going to sleep now.”

Me: “Okay, have a good night – I love you!”

A few minutes later:

SHB: “Mom, I can’t sleep. I hear termites chewing something. I think it’s the dresser Tanya gave us.”

Me: “You’re joking, right?”

SHB: “No.”  

Throwing the sheet off, I leave my comfortable nest and follow my son to his room.  

SHB: “I think the termites are in the wood trim around the mirror.”  

I separate the mirror from the dresser, exposing a mound of termite droppings.  

SHB: “See! I knew I could hear them!”  

After relocating the mirror to the living room far from Super Hearing Boy’s hypersensitive ears, I return to my bed.  

Two minutes later:  

SHB: “Mom, I still hear them.”  

Me: “You could use a little deafness right now, Boy. Let me sleep!”  

SHB: “It’s really loud!”  

Sigh. Once again, I leave my soft bed to save my mutant superhero from the sounds of loudness. We push the dresser into the dining room to await its fate, then I slide into my bed for the third and hopefully final time that night.  

As I wait for waves of sleep to engulf me, I’m awed by Super Hearing Boy’s supersonic hearing. I’m also somewhat thankful for my deafness, knowing I’ll never lose sleep over irritating sounds that have caused problems for SHB in the past. You know, horrid sounds such as the flapping of butterflies’ wings, leaves falling, or grass growing.

The Cool Teens

Since my last couple of posts were about my teenagers, I thought I’d write about my teen years with a hearing loss.

When I was 13, I took my hearing aids off, and decided I wasn’t going to wear them anymore. A typical teenager, I wanted to be just like my friends. My logic at that age consisted of, “None of my friends (wear hearing aids, have speech therapy, etc.), so why should I?” The only problem with my brilliant reasoning? None of my friends had a hearing loss.

I remember sitting in the back of the classroom with all the cool kids, which of course, made me cool, too. The cool kids didn’t lipread, so, say it with me: I didn’t lipread, either. My teachers could have been speaking Swahili for all I knew. Expend energy to understand the world around me? Nah, that would be Uncool. Everything had to be laidback and easy. The only time I had a clue about the topic was when the teacher wrote on the board.

My coolness was rewarded with really cool grades: Ds and Fs. The word, “DOOFUS” described me and my report card:

D – below average

O – outstanding (in music)

O – outstanding (in music)

F – fail

U – unsatisfactory (my conduct in class)

S – satisfactory (my conduct in music)

When I saw my cool son’s latest report card, I sat down, took a deep breath, and reminded myself that I was once a DOOFUS, too.

If you grew up wearing hearing aids, did you refuse to wear them as a teen?

Girly Girl

cropped.jpg

This is Girly Girl 

Doesn’t she look like Snow White a little bit?  I’m so proud of her!  This picture was taken minutes after she graduated from high school.

She inspired the “bark code” we use at home.

Super Hearing Boy

                    Super Hearing Boy

                        This is Super Hearing Boy.

In this photo, he’s listening to the sounds dust makes floating through the air. Funny how he can sleep through the alarm every morning!

The Evangelist

After coworkers or new friends get to know me and see how open I am about my hearing loss, I start hearing confessions. Family secrets about stubborn “Aunt Daisy‘s” deafness and her refusal to wear her hearing aids are commonplace (See Steve’s article, “The Best Place for Hearing Aids is in Ears” for a similar woeful tale). Because I wear my hearing aids, I am granted authority, power, and wisdom to reach the otherwise unreachable masses.

On a weekly basis, I hear stories of people who won’t get their hearing tested, such as blundering “Uncle Bob,” with his inappropriate responses to questions, and “Grandpa Joe,” who blasts the volume on the tv, complaining everyone mumbles. The oft repeated plea of these weary souls is, “If only you could speak to him/her!”. Upon utterance of these desperate words, I go forth, hearing aids fully powered, to promote The Gospel of Hearing Aids to their loved ones.

Lilly, however, had a different reason for asking me to go into the missionary field to reach her grandmother:

“She won’t get her hearing tested because she’s afraid to get hearing aids.”

“Afraid?”

“Yes, she’s afraid hearing aids will make her look old.”

I looked at Lilly’s grandmother, noticing her blue-tinted white hair, dowager’s hump, and walker. Uncontrollable laughter hit both of us at the same time. After we wiped away our tears, I said, “Okay, let me understand this. In her mind, she doesn’t look old right now?”

“That’s right – she’s a very youthful 83.”

“Somehow, nearly invisible hearing aids will ruin her youthfulness and transform her into an ‘elderly’ person?”

Vanity. All is vanity.

What Would You Do?

Everybody multi-tasks to save time.

We:

  • Vacuum while clothes are in the washing machine
  • Wash dishes while the cake is baking
  • Chop vegetables while water is boiling

These are things that are safe to do at the same time. But as I learned the hard way, there are some tasks that should never, ever, under any circumstances be done simultaneously. Please pay close attention and learn from the following story.

As I was putting away groceries one afternoon, I noticed sounds were becoming dim in one ear. I didn’t stop to change my hearing aid battery right then because I was running late for an appointment. After the food was put away, I ran to the master bedroom and on the way to the bathroom, grabbed a packet of hearing aid batteries off the dresser.

While sitting on the porcelain throne, I effortlessly removed the old battery and replaced it with a fresh one. Snapping the battery compartment door shut, I lost my grip on the slick, hard surface of the hearing aid. I watched, mouth agape, as it tumbled soundlessly into the pale amber liquid.

An air bubble floated to the surface. Seconds remained before the complex electronic circuitry of my beloved “ear” would be destroyed.  I plunged my bare hand into the bowl and snatched the tiny instrument from the treacherous waters. A quick rinse in clear water, a few minutes with a hair dryer, and a prayer vigil resuscitated the precious giver of sound. It continued to provide years of selfless service after this near-death experience, and its final demise was celebrated with a respectable burial.

Nothing comes between me and my hearing aids. Nothing.

The Whiplash Effect

I’ve known about my hearing loss for 31 years (diagnosed at age 11), and have gone through several stages dealing with my deafness:

  • feeling ashamed to tell people I couldn’t hear
  • trying to hide my hearing loss
  • denying my hearing loss
  • hiding my hearing aids
  • complete acceptance of both my hearing loss and hearing aids

When normal hearing people try to push me or any other hard of hearing (hoh) person back into any of the first four stages, my protective instinct gently emerges. Many years ago, this protective instinct was out of control. I believed I could whiplash normal hearing people into sync with my new-found acceptance of hearing loss.

Sad to say, I no longer remember the name of the first poor unfortunate soul to experience the whiplash effect. We’ll call her “Sarah.” Sarah made a huge mistake minutes after meeting me. She took me aside and said in a cheery voice, “I just thought you’d like to know that I can see your hearing aids!”

To say I reacted poorly is an understatement. Pressure cookers have nothing on me when I‘m angry. I said, “So? What do you want me to do, cover them up? Do you want me to be ashamed that I can’t hear well? Why should I hide my hearing aids? I can’t help the fact that I’m hard of hearing! Why don’t you hide your glasses – I can see them!”

Poor Sarah. She high-tailed it out of there and left me stewing. 

Have you ever done something like this?

That’s Not in my Job Description!

Sometimes I use a small amplifier called a SmartLink that works in conjunction with my hearing aids. It’s about half the size of a deck of cards and needs to be plugged into or placed near the source of sound to be effective. At work, the SmartLink sits unobtrusively on my desk, covertly amplifying my customers. If I need to walk my customers to a different location, I nonchalantly carry it with me. Customers that speak during our short walk suddenly get their personal space invaded by this shiny, silver device just inches from their lips.The three most common reactions are:

Gratitude – “Oh, thank you! I really need a nice mp3 player!”

Or  

Suspicion – “Why are you taking my picture?”

Or  

Hostility – “I don’t want to be recorded!”

I quickly became used to saying, “This device helps me hear you – it works with my hearing aids.“ People accept this explanation most graciously, and all is right with the world. But one day I was surprised with a completely new reaction that had never happened before or since:

The Local Government Building was deathly quiet (at least to me). A woman leisurely ambles up to my desk and requests assistance. My SmartLink was in the usual hiding place, but wasn’t amplifying her soft voice. I pick it up and point it toward her. Before I could blink my eyes, a deafening primal scream escapes her mouth and she flies backwards ten feet.

She hollers, “DON’T TASER ME! DON’T TASER ME!”

“What?!”

“I didn’t do anything! I swear! Please don’t taser me!”  

“Ma’am, I’m here to HELP you, not HURT you!”

Who knew adaptive equipment could be so entertaining!

We See, They Listen

I never cease to be amazed at what Normal Hearing (NH) people can hear. NH people can put a pot of water on the stove and know precisely when it starts to boil – WITHOUT looking at it. What an amazing feat! They can determine if a light bulb is good – just by SHAKING it. Astounding! And get this…they can hear turning signals. Really – it’s true.

I know these things because of my son, Super Hearing Boy, who can hear a flea land on a dog. He demonstrated his exceptional skill at my mother’s home a couple of weeks ago. We were relaxing in the living room, enjoying the Sci-Fi channel. He was sitting in the recliner, and I was on the couch, when out of the blue, he yells, “Mom!”

Alarmed, I turn to Super Hearing Boy and say, “What’s wrong?”

“Please stop!”

“Stop what?”

“That!”

“What in the world are you talking about? I’m not doing anything!”

“Stop scratching!”

Lest you think I’m a dry, scaly alligator woman, I was scratching a mosquito bite.

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