What I Have Learned From Wearing Hearing Aids
Yes, I wear hearing aids. Yes, I’ve been wearing them since I turned 40. I have never been a fan of getting older. Therefore, I have difficulty celebrating birthdays. And I certainly have trouble when things on my body don’t function like they did when I was younger. Blame it on genetics and an autoimmune disease, my hearing had been in the crapper for a while, even before turning 40. I come from a long line of bad-hearers. My dad had to get hearing aids early in life and all my siblings wear them (or should wear them). At work or in social situations, it isn’t unusual for me to try to read a person’s lips or just smile and nod when they say something to me, lest I say “huh?” one more time. Thankfully I’ve never unknowingly agreed to wear a puffy shirt (Seinfeld fans know what I’m talking about here).
While I curse getting older and having my body break down, there are bright spots in wearing hearing aids. Here are a few things that wearing them have taught me.
I can hear! I never fully realized just how badly I heard (or how good I didn’t hear) until I got hearing aids. The first time the audiologist put them in my ears and turned them on, every little noise was suddenly in stereo. When I went to the bathroom I thought, “Have I been peeing this loudly all my life? I’m the World’s Loudest Pee-er!” Alas, when I’m in a public restroom, everyone else’s peeing sounds just as loud so I don’t feel as special. When I walk outside I hear birds chirping so loudly I run like Tippi Hedren in an Alfred Hitchcock movie. The best part is I can hear my son much, much better. I can hear his laughter. I can hear his whispers of “mommy, I love you”. I can hear his burps and his farts and all the other noises that come out of little boys. I will swallow my pride and my vanity and wear these dang hearing aids to be able to hear my son.
No one notices. My biggest fear was people noticing my hearing aids and saying something. I’m not even sure what I think they would say if they noticed.
Person noticing my hearing aids: “Hey, you’re wearing hearing aids.”
Me: “Um, yep.”
Really, where does the conversation go from there? The hearing aids I wear are very tiny and flesh colored so they blend in with my skin for the most part. I wear my hair long which covers my hearing aids unless I have it in a ponytail. So far, no one has called me out for wearing hearing aids. If anyone has noticed, nothing has been said.
"Hearing aids are just glasses for the ears."
Don’t feel sorry for me. I once saw a little boy my son’s age with hearing aids. My first instinct was to think, “Oh, that poor little boy.” But then I thought, “How awesome that he has hearing aids so that he can hear.” Technology has really come a long way. We wouldn’t feel sorry for someone wearing glasses because he/she can’t see well. Hearing aids are just glasses for the ears. And by the way, I’ve needed glasses or contacts since I was in the 5th grade. According to my eye doctor, I can see only slightly better than Stevie Wonder. See why I’m discouraged by growing older?
Sometimes I like to not hear. When I get home from work, the hearing aids are one of the first things to come off when I walk in the door. And when I take them off, it suddenly sounds like I’m under water: I can hear, sort of, but everything is really muted, if that makes sense. I know that at home it’s ok to say “huh?” to my husband a half dozen times. We watch TV with the close-caption on which probably annoys my husband but he’s never once complained. When we were on a Disney Cruise it was heaven for me to not wear my hearing aids and not have to hear all the kids yelling and screaming around the ship. Every cloud has a silver lining y’all.
I’ve become a little less social. Even though I have hearing aids, I still sometimes struggle with hearing another person, especially in places like a noisy restaurant. I have felt myself become more of an introvert personally and professionally simply because I don’t want to say “huh?” repeatedly or stare at someone as they wait for my response while I try to figure out what was just said. It’s frustrating. I realize I’m probably the only one who cares whether I say “huh?” one time or a thousand times. Friends and family would understand, I’m sure. But still, the self-consciousness is holding me back.
I’m finally at a point in life where I realize that attitude really is everything. I could feel sorry for myself for not being able to hear without the help of aids or see without the help of contacts/glasses but instead I’m happy someone invented hearing aids and glasses so that I can hear and see.
What about you? What’s a potential negative in your life that you instead flip into a positive?
Don’t forget to hire me for your next voiceover project! Even though I can’t hear, I can SPEAK very effectively!