My hearing is really bad. It has been at least since my mid 30’s. Maybe before and I just didn’t know it. My mom’s hearing has been bad since she was about the same age so perhaps I got that from her. When my kids were little, I would go visit my mom and the kids would stay with her while I went to get my nails done or went shopping with one of my sisters. With two little ones it was hard for me to get out so when I made the weekly hour drive to see my mom, she watched the kids for me. One day, she told me about crossing the street with my two kids. She was holding their hand, on on each side of her. As she stepped off the curb, someone grabbed her and the kids and pulled her back onto the sidewalk. As she squeezed the kids’ hands tighter thinking that someone was going to kidnap them, she realized that there was a fire engine speeding by. Had she not been pulled back, they would have been hit! She had not heard the siren. She was THAT deaf. It really scared me, as you can imagine. That same day I looked into hearing aids for her. Within a week, I had taken her to the audiologist near me and had her fitted for in ear hearing aids. They were very costly but not as costly as losing a life, especially my own children’s.
Years later, I had not had that kind of a close call, however, it is very embarrassing always having to ask someone to repeat what they said. Sometimes, I would just smile and pretend I heard and go on. That made me look dumb because I would later find out that something I smiled at required an answer that I didn’t give. Or sometimes it wasn’t something to smile about. You get the idea. It bothered me but hearing aids are very expensive and I no longer have the resources or the insurance to cover the cost. Then a few things happened. My first grandson was born and I sometimes couldn’t hear him crying when he was here with me at home. When he spent the night, I wouldn’t sleep because I was afraid he would wake up and I wouldn’t hear him crying. Then he learned to talk and unless I was right next to him, I couldn’t hear his beautiful sing-songy baby talk. Then my son was getting married. I didn’t want to look like the dumb mother of the groom at the wedding. I didn’t want to meet people there and not hear what they were saying to me. I didn’t want my son to look bad because of me! So I looked around and found some hearing aids that you don’t need to see an audiologist for. You can order them online. I knew they weren’t top of the line hearing aids but I figured they were better than nothing and they had a 45 day money back guarantee. While still pricey, they were affordable to me because it was very important to me that I hear better. I ordered them and they arrived the week before the wedding. I was too busy running around trying to get everyone where they needed to be in time for the wedding in Seattle. Finally, it was the day before we left for the wedding and I got around to having my daughter’s boyfriend help me (the tubing had to be measured and cut and I couldn’t do it alone) set them up. The difference was amazing! I could hear! I could hear things I had not been able to hear in ages, or ever. The wedding was wonderful and I didn’t look like a fool or feel like I was missing what people were saying. Yay!
I’ve since upgraded to a nicer, smaller pair and better quality pair (because I forgot the other ones were in my pocket and I put them in the washer and dryer…BIG no no!). And what can I hear now? Right now, as I type this, I can hear the rain outside the window. I can hear the oscillating fan as it sweeps back and forth. I can hear the ball bouncing as the neighbors’ kids ignore the gentle rain and play out in the street. I just heard a bicycle. I can hear the very soft tinkling of the wind chimes my son brought me after his first trip to Japan. I can hear the dishwasher as it cycles through the wash. The world is now full of sounds that were lost to me before I got my hearing aids. Of course, I can also hear the neighbor’s yappy little dog yapping all night long and the other neighbor’s compressor when it goes on throughout the day and night. Yes, there are some sounds I would rather not hear but that’s the price you pay when there is so much you do want to hear. Then again, if I really don’t want to pay that price, I can just take out the hearing aids, or turn them off!