One of the good things you can say about hearing loss is its loyalty – it just never leaves you. It sticks by your side, your insides, no matter how much you beg it to give you some “alone time”.
It’s hard to get that kind of loyalty these days but, honestly? I could do without the devotion of chronic health conditions like hearing loss and, even worse, tinnitus. I try not complain because I don’t have severe pain that requires drugs – although if there were a medication that effectively treated tinnitus, I’d gladly get addicted – and it’s usually not fatal.
I don’t want to get into a pissing contest with other chronic health condition sufferers. “You think YOU got it bad, girl? You miss stuff in conversations, oh boo hoo. Try living with the pain of (arthritis/cancer/osteoporosis/you name it).” I get that. Whatever our individual condition, pain or mental stress, it impacts our life in ways that others cannot imagine.
But some days, I find myself wondering if someone might be willing to trade their, say, eating disorder for my hearing loss. For just a while?
But no, if you have hearing loss, you get to keep it as your constant companion. We can throw at it everything we’ve got – hearing aids, cochlear implants, other assistive technology, finely-honed speechreading skills….even herbal tea, exercise and meditation. We manipulate our environment to our advantage – eliminatte background noise, keep the room lit up like a Christmas tree to reduce shadows and boost good visual sightlines.
And still, our hearing loss makes itself known throughout the day. “Yo, Gael-girl! What’s that Hearing Husband’s saying? Tell him again we don’t talk to the back of the head!”
You know someone’s at the front door only because your cat pricks its ears and takes off towards it.
Stuff burns on the stove because you didn’t hear the timer. The sink overflows because you left the water running. (Clearly, it’s a good idea not to leave the kitchen.)
Some days it seems that, regardless of how loudly the hearing aid or CI brings sound into your ears, your tinnitus is louder.
You say pardon so often that sometimes you say it, even when you did hear what was said – and then you have to wait until it’s repeated.
By the time you hear a siren, the ambulance is almost on top of you. Guaranteed to leave you rattled for the rest of the day.
But let’s look at it from the other side. I could have called this blog “Hearing Loss, the Unwelcome House Guest”. While I try to be realistic about the life with hearing loss, it relentlessly negativity gets us nowhere. We just have to put things in place to live as comfortably as possible with this hearing loss – because it ain’t going nowhere soon.
Wear hearing technology all the time. However, not in the shower.
Use visual alerts for the phone, front door, wake-ups, etc.
Stay alert to danger while driving.
Don’t leave the kitchen.
Use captioning on anything that talks.
Stay rested. Get exercise. Eat and drink healthy stuff.
Don’t leave the kitchen. (Did I already mention this absolutely crucial point?)
Forgive people when they’re not perfect communicators, especially yourself.
They say you can’t buy loyalty and apparently we can’t get disloyalty, either. Hearing loss – it’s yours to keep.