Confessions of A (Hard of Hearing) Loser

I lose things. Frequently. Single earrings and single gloves are favorite things to lose, but reading glasses and car keys are also high on the likely-to-go-missing list.

My late mother would have said I lose things because I’m disorganized, but anyone would seem sloppy compared to my nurse/drill sergeant mom. And my husband might point to my desk half-covered with papers as proof that I’m prone to losing things.

Well, hardy har har! The light has finally dawned on the prime reason for my being such a big loser.

It’s because I’m hard of hearing.

If it were not for my hearing loss, I would have a full jewellery box, a fine collection of lovely winter gloves, and I might still be using the same old pair of reading glasses.

You see, I don’t misplace these items – I drop them, unknowingly. And when a lightweight item – such as an earring or a mitten – drops, I don’t hear it. If I don’t see something falling to the ground, the chances are high that I won’t hear it, either.

And in noisy places such as restaurants, I could probably drop a 500-page book, my purse, or even the baby without the sound registering in my brain.  Oh, I might hear something, but if the brain is busy trying to sort out a cacophony of noise signals, it might not interpret the thud of the baby as an urgent-need-to-know sound.

I appreciate that hearing people also lose things and I commiserate, but I truly believe this loser problem is more serious and frustrating for my people, the HoH people.

I usually don’t lose things when I’m standing on glass or metal surfaces, which admittedly is not often.  Items hitting metal tend to sound like cymbals clashing  in my hearing aids – there’s just no way I couldn’t hear it. (To better appreciate the truly spine-jarring noise of metal, ask any new hearing aid wearer what it’s like to eat dinner with family members who selfishly slam around their knives, forks and spoons.)

No, most of my lost stuff falls on sound-absorbing surfaces: a bracelet into thick carpeting, a favorite earring on old pine flooring (the cat was playing with it), sunglasses in the grass, mittens in the snow, and leather driving gloves on the pavement beneath the car door.

But now that I understand the connection between losing things and my hearing loss, I can accept with grace that I’m a hard of hearing loser.  And now I can do something to stem the tide of my losses, because constantly replacing nice earrings and good gloves is expensive!

Just this evening while preparing dinner, my new reading glasses suddenly slipped sideways on my nose. Due to a faulty pin, an arm had fallen to the ground, soundlessly. Luckily, it fell in my own kitchen, saving me from having to shell out $50 for yet another pair of readers.

Here are some  strategies that may help me stop all the losing:

  • Keep clothes pockets well-stitched; small things find their way through small holes, and I don’t hear them going south to the floor.
  • When I get out of the car, I’ll look down and check the ground before moving away.
  • A falling glove is only around 30 dB at point of impact; I know this because my son and I did a scientific experiment. (See photo.) I’m 5’5″ on a good day, so by the time the sound reaches my ears, it’s negligible, impossible to hear. To increase the volume of the glove’s impact with the ground, I will sew heavy metal bits onto the fingertips of my  leather gloves. My arms will hang almost to my knees, but my hands will be warm.
  • Earrings are lightweight and adept at working themselves out of my ears. It’s as though they are magnetically repelled by my hearing aids. Besides securing them with those little plastic safety guards, I’ll double check they’re still there each time I tap/activate my t-switch buttons.
  • I’ll wear my reading glasses on a chain, to minimize the risk of dropping or misplacing them. (I did buy a chain the other day, but I can’t find it.)
  • When people can’t find their cars in large parking lots, a button on their keys can set off the car lights, horn or trunk.   But I’m not good at localizing sound, especially car horns.  Besides, I’ve never lost my car – it’s the keys that I don’t hear clattering to the ground, somewhere, usually far from the car. How about a button on the car that would set off signal flares from my keys. Is that brilliant, or what?

Sigh.  I’m tired of being a hard of hearing loser, so I welcome suggestions from other losers with hearing loss, or hearing healthcare professionals.  Or anybody, even.

Joel Hannan, measuring volume of falling glove

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

10 Comments

  1. thanks for that post. I am new to this hoh world and any infomation I can find I am just absorbing like a sponge. I like the humor that comes with all this realization. It is what wil keep us from going off the edge I am sure. I am still learning how to function with this sense majorily impacted. Haven’t lost things that I notice yet, but am sure that is yet to be …

  2. Great post – I guess this gives me something to look forward to with my son. He tends to lose a lot but I always attributed it to his age. Now if I could just get him to stop misplacing his hearing aid.

  3. So true, Gael! I have made the same argument myself. I remember specifically doing so after leaving my FM transmitter outside overnight in the rain. If I had normal hearing, I would have heard it fall to the ground.

  4. Finally, we have a HoH (Gael’s words, not mine) as our own Erma Bombeck of the hearing impaired. Can anyone imagine a more humorous conversation than between Gael and Kathy Buckley?

  5. Great article Gael. I can identify 100%. I have a similar collection of unmatched goodies whose partners have gone astray! I’ve also burned out 3 garbage disposals, and run the hot water completely out down the kitchen sink more than once too. All I need is a simple distraction that pulls me away from what I was doing for a moment or two. The absence of sound as a reminder often creates a bit of chaos (and loss). I think after 45 years of marriage, I’ve finally convinced my spouse that it’s my hearing that does this, not my mind! Julie Olson

  6. Your post has made my day. Being a hearing person for 60 years and suddenly deafened was enough. I am so comforted to know my memory hasn”t gone also (lol) I was becoming very concerned.
    There is so much truth to your statement. Come to think of it I have had people hand me things I have dropped to the floor. Never knew it, due to lack of hearing it. Oh how my new hearing life is coming together. Thanks!

  7. Service dogs aren’t for everyone, but I have to admit that I am no longer a HoH loser because I have a service dog with me 24/7. She has been trained to automatically retrieved “dropped items”. So she hears, and retrieves all those things I drop that use to end up… lost.

  8. Great blog as always Gael, with that humourous vein throughout that makes them so entertaining. Keep them coming! The only thing I seem to have a problem with keeping is money. I never seem to have enough of it, and I don’t seem to spend much on myself, so the only conclusion I can make is that it’s falling out of my wallet somehow. I guess, I’ll have to tighten up on the stitching. LOL!

  9. Your column is true with a humorous vein. You mention you’ve never lost your car . . . well . . . I thought I did once. Coming out of our local shopping mall I went to where I ‘thought’ my car was parked. It wasn’t there. I then went to the next aisle and the next. I returned to the original spot and looked around again. It was gradually beginning to dawn on me – my car had been stolen!!! I was ‘shell shocked’. Called the police, they took a report and said the vehicle would probably be found in a few days. Sure enough it was. It was engaged in a break & enter of electrical components business. While attempting to make their get-a-way, the thieves crashed into another car going through a red light. It turns out the son had just been released from prison. He and his dad, continuing on in the family business had stolen my car to be used for this break-in.

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