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About Those Hearing Aids

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Well, being the new owner of hearing aids (2 weeks now) I can really relate to this. Over the past four years I have sat in noisy restaurants seeing the lips of the person across from me moving but unable to hear them. Tired of saying "pardon me" I soon gave up. I have been at my book club when animated conversations would momentarily (thank goodness) mean people talk all at once and I have felt totally lost because I could not hear what anyone was saying. In quiet rooms I never had trouble hearing and still don't but in a car, many restaurants, parties (which I hate anyway) I was lost. So busy surviving as Bill deteriorated, I ignored this except for annual hearing tests which showed slight deterioration each time. Because I have spent the past couple weeks in a dark place, I have, during that time, looked hard at the role these new hearing aids might be playing in my being t/here. In the end, I see getting them as an achievement, a sign of self care. I also harbor a bit of sadness that I am now hearing through speakers but I AM hearing. I am adjusting to them and enjoying the benefits...e.g. yesterday the General Store became noisy and my coffee time with the fairly soft spoken person I was with would normally have become agitating/frustrating. Instead, I switched my remote control to program 2 (noisy rooms) without him even knowing it and things improved..not perfect but I could hear him. Whew! I had been avoiding or dreading the General Store sometimes and other noisy places. I understand the isolation that hearing problems can lead to and intervened before I became someone who never went anywhere. So I see my new hearing aids as a gift to myself (and yes, a bit of a nuisance).

However, as I went through this process, I have wrestled with the fear of losing my hearing all together...of never hearing Wagner again or the voice of a friend or the wind. It is a terrifying thought to me especially when coupled with the threat of losing my vision as a result of my serious eye conditions (which are well monitored and under control). What would it be like to be blind? I firmly believe that neither deafness or blindness is in my future based not just on my gut knowingness but also on family medical histories (these are genetic conditions) and my audiologist's and ophthalmologist's reports. I also acknowledge I still feel frightened from time to time and while I know I will cross that bridge...if I ever have to. I have already crossed the toughest bridge of my life. I KNOW that. I am, however, quite sensitive to those who have any limitations (hearing, sight, walking, memory, etc). I can put myself in their shoes having wrestled with all of them to some degree even if temporary e.g. crutches for 3 months once and memory issues for a year or so after Bill died. This post made me rethink all of this today and I always welcome opportunities to do some introspection and become aware. I say that as I prepare to leave for the first of five Mindfulness classes :)

Thank you, Marty, for the post. You continue to amaze me with the wealth of resources you present to us...all flowing from your loving concern and empathy.

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This is so like your sensitivity, Marty! I feel for you, Mary, for any loss is a loss we must acknowledge, adjust to, and live with. I have watched my quadriplegic sister as she has suffered big losses...first a divorce, then death of her 3 year old son, at the same time she was rendered helpless by an automobile wreck that left her quadriplegic and without audible speech. It took her years to adjust to the loss, but she eventually did. She is now one of the sweetest happiest people I know. She has learned the art of being content, of not fighting what you cannot change, of making the best of what is. Therein lies the secret, I think.

I've also watched as my mom has fought against the loss of independence, of life as she knew it changing, of having to move to a lockdown facility, and rely upon others. My mom has always been fiercely independent, even when it might have benefited her to accept help. She's now having to face this loss and adjust, just when her faculties are least adequate to do so.

Myself, I've faced a myriad of losses in my life. Loss of family, spouse, job, and now, although smaller, it is a reminder of what's to come...loss of my youth. One by one things go. You don't hear as well, don't see as well, can't get up on the roof anymore, have to be more careful with your step...why it seems just like yesterday I was shimmying up a tree! We watch as wrinkles replace our youth, and where did these extra pounds come from that robbed us of our youthful figures? Things start to sag and bag until we wonder if we even resemble the person we used to be. Will I too suffer the loss of my mind like my mom is? What is in store? We all wonder that, and we can't know. What we can do is choose to make the best of what is and accept it as gracefully as we can...and laugh in the face of storms. What other choice do we have?

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