The Hearing Despaired

By Maureen

I live in a quiet world and I like it.

Years ago a hearing test at work revealed that I had some hearing loss. This was a great relief to many of my co-workers who had assumed I had been ignoring them for years. It reinforced my belief that companies should test all employees’ hearing, not just those exposed to high noise areas. An employee with an unidentified hearing loss could be experiencing difficulties in the workplace and not realize why. It could also prove to be a safety hazard.

Once my hearing loss was identified I quickly made an appointment with the Audiologist and subsequently purchased my first hearing aid. I was in my late 30’s at the time. Then I told everybody. It is very helpful if those you interact with are aware of your hearing loss. I’m in my late 40’s now, and I sport a hearing aid in each ear.

Despite my hearing loss, there are some things I hear very clearly. “PUT YOUR HEARING AID IN!” or “SHE CAN’T HEAR YOU!”, or “WHO DROPPED THIS TWENTY DOLLARS?”

When someone suggests I put my hearing aid in, I am sure their intentions are admirable. But even my feeble hearing oft detects a condescending tone. So before suggesting to someone with a hearing impairment that they put their hearing aid in, consider this; they are likely already wearing it. If they are not wearing it at that particular moment it is probably for a good reason. It may have a dead battery or a malfunction, or perhaps they saw you coming!

Hearing aids are not a perfect solution. It’s disheartening when someone with a hearing impairment is told to put their hearing aid in when they are already wearing them. Although great technical improvements have been made, hearing aids are still not perfect.

Then there is the comment, “SHE CAN’T HEAR YOU ANYWAY.” I rarely miss one of these. But what I really hear is: “Never mind repeating yourself as she is not worth the trouble it would take to include her in the conversation.”

When conversing with someone who has a hearing impairment, please take the time to get their attention, speak directly to them and don’t cover your mouth as they may lip read.  And keep the lip reading in mind when having a private conversation because someone across the room may be listening to your lips.

To those of you with hearing impairment, please don’t make the mistake I did. Since I couldn’t hear well I avoided it by trying to do all the talking myself. Everyone deserves to be heard and some even have something worthwhile to say. Don’t hesitate to say, speak up please, I can’t hear you. Then focus! Don’t let an uncomfortable situation make you lose your focus. Watch and listen as best you can.

My hearing loss has been a major source of laughter for me. Just ask the guy who I thought was going to do my leaves, and then he went up on the roof to clean the eaves! I could convey to you many examples of mixed up words that brought tears to our eyes and smiles to our faces. Or was that years to our eyes and miles on our faces? Despite some of the hardships of hearing loss, there are advantages. I can turn down my hearing aid to silence a neighbour’s lawnmower or a noisy bird. Conversely, I can turn it up to hear a babbling brook or a small child’s whisper.