First of all, may I say that you are looking spectacular these days – a little trimmer around the belly and – even better – a trimmed moustache around the mouth. We’ve never met, you and I, but if that great event were to happen, it’s nice to know that I would be able ‘speechread you’ without interference from fluffy white face-hair, as attractive as it might be.
I’m sorry I haven’t written you for the last few years, but I got into the habit of loudly verbalizing my Christmas wish-list whenever my son or husband came within earshot. That never really worked out in my favor, so I’m back to letter-writing.
And I’m desperate, Santa. You’ll see that my wish list is a tall order that may be impossible to fill. But my dad always said, it never hurts to ask.
When asked what he wanted for Christmas, dad would always say ‘peace and happiness for the whole wide world’. We thought it was such a silly thing to ask for – and it wasn’t a gift, you couldn’t play wear it, play with it or eat it. But it doesn’t seem so funny anymore, because I’m asking for something almost as big.
There is a great need, Santa,not only among people with hearing loss, but also among people who are in danger of losing their hearing. Maybe you can help, maybe you can’t, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
If you’ve got room in your sleigh, I would really appreciate the following:
1. Sound Sense: I’m asking you to pack some sense, and knock it into the heads of people who are risking their hearing to noise damage. They just don’t know what they stand to lose – they have no idea what it would be like to live with hearing loss.
You may be wondering why I’m asking for this, Santa. Earlier this week the Christmas bells were ringing – but they were inside my son’s head. He had been having a wonderful time at one of those big club parties so popular with teenagers (although not with their parents), but over the course of four hours, the roaring noise sautéed his inner ear hair cells. For two days, his ears rang so badly that he was frightened – he thought his hearing was gone. It’s not only the kids who need to hear this message, Santa. What about the people who insist on ramping up the noise in the first place? It’s a crime to give guns, knives, and drugs to kids, so why then is it not a crime to inflict sound at a brain-bruising 115 dB!?
2. Good, Affordable Hearing Aids For Those Who Need Them: You know those heartbreaking images of children pressing their noses to the glass, looking at a Christmas display of toys they know they won’t receive? Well, Santa, that’s the way it is for many people with hearing loss on limited incomes. They are bombarded with ads for hearing technology – Are you missing out? Live life to the fullest again! Our state-of-the-art technology will reconnect you with loved ones! – that they simply cannot afford. So they carry on, in a form of communication exile, or they purchase cheap, over-the-counter technology that may cause more harm than good. I’m asking you to work your magic so that governments, hearing health providers and consumers can work together for accessible hearing health care.
3. Hearing Health Professionals Who Make a Difference: Hearing health means more than hearing aids. So why – and please allow me just a teeny bit of grumpiness here, Santa – does my annual holiday greeting focus on offering me a good deal on hearing aids, even though I just bought new ones last year? Perhaps you could put the idea in their minds to offer their clients helpful information such as how to navigate the frustrations of holiday communication? Better yet – tell them to invite me over for a drink! Some hearing health professionals do that – they invite their clients in for a bit of seasonal cheer and the chance to chat with others who appreciate good communication. Santa, please help our professionals to see beyond hearing aids.
4. The Confidence to Express Our Communication Needs: This one is important and I’m not sure what you can do about it. I dream of the day when people with hearing loss can identify and articulate our needs – without shame and without hesitation. It’s not just about hearing, Santa, it’s about being heard. It’s about communication, which is a fundamental of life right up there with food, water and air. That’s what we want, above all, to communicate freely and confidently.
5. Mini-Cooper car, two-tone butterscotch and black. This has nothing to do with hearing loss, I just want one.
Was this all too much, Santa? I don’t want to be greedy, but like I said, we’re kind of desperate here! Thank you for listening. Have a happy and safe journey this Christmas, and don’t forget to wear some hearing protection – those reindeer are noisy!