Ever since I joined up with the Hearing Loss Association of America and the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, I’ve been immersed in positive hearing communication strategies. Over time, I’ve been dunked, dredged and baked into a confident and assertive advocate for people with hearing loss.
But on occasion, little cracks appear in the armor. I have bad hearing moments and even full crappy-hearing days. And it’s at those times, that we’re supposed to recite the following rule to ourselves:
Above all, to live successfully with hearing loss, I will keep my sense of humor.
But answer me this – what if you don’t have a sense of humor, huh? What would a poor hard of hearing person do in that case? Although my sense of humor is reasonably sound, it doesn’t always rise to the occasion, simply on demand, especially when hearing loss is involved. I could tell you a funny story about what happened yesterday, for example, an embarrassing hearing faux pas. But at the moment it occurred, I guarantee that it was not funny, at least not to me. My sense of humor is clearly time-delayed.
Growing up with hearing loss can turn you into a bit of a worry-wart, or even a complete bundle of nerves. And now that I’m older, I worry in a way I never did before – and about new things I had never considered.
Those hearing people, they worry when they actually hear something go bump in the night. But at least they’re hearing it and can figure out how to react, like grabbing a frying pan or broom or whatever to fight off the thing that goes bump.
I do not hear bumps in the night – but I know they’re there, because other people tell me they are. So, I start to worry – what am I not hearing on any given night? What’s happening out there in the dark – a bump, a crash, a yell, a smash? I hear nothing – and man, that can keep you awake, wondering what you’re not hearing. I keep getting up and looking around – just look at the bags under my eyes! Those aren’t hereditary, they grew on my face out of worry.
You wonder what else I worry about? Oh, just about everything, but here’s a partial list. I WORRY THAT:
- My shake-awake will stop vibrating before I wake up.
- The battery people will call an industry-wide strike. My hearing aids and my assistive devices are ALL battery operated!
- Next year’s flu season will be bad and everyone will wear surgical masks instead of lipstick. Can you imagine the hell this would cause for speech readers like me?
- My hearing aid will feed back when I hug somebody…so I hug at a weird angle, just in case.
- When crossing a busy, noisy street, I miss an important sound – like the car about to hit me!
- ALL the captioners quit, and we’re left to depend on speech-to-text, voice-recognition software. I know that live captioners make some interesting mistakes; in the recent TV coverage of the Queen’s Jubilee, the announcer’s references to the Archbishop of Canterbury and Queen Victoria were captioned as the Arch Bitch of Canterbury and Queen Vicious. But with imperfect software, that’s what we would get all the time!
- My husband’s lips will lose their ability to move. Or he’ll get tired of repeating himself and will get a new wife who CAN hear through walls.
- My grandchildren will have high squeaky voices. Their moms will say, “Face Nana when you talk to her, sweet pea, she has a hearing loss”, and they will respond, “Tough s–t!”
- My friends will start going out without me, saying, “Well, we didn’t invite you to the new restaurant, darling, because we know how much noise bothers you. But we brought you back some of the paté.” I hate paté.
- My ear hole will close up and I won’t be able to wear a hearing aid.
- After I buy my newest $5000 hearing aids, they’ll go on sale at 50% off.
- Mustaches, chewing gum and eating with your mouth full will come back in fashion. Oh, heaven help us.
- The new study that links hearing loss to dementia proves to be true! Apparently, for every 10 decibels of hearing loss, the risk of dementia increases by 20 per cent. Ok, let’s see now, I’ve got a 70dB loss….OMG! I’ve got about 20 minutes before I lose my mind completely.
- I have missed an important, life-changing opportunity because I didn’t hear the phone ring.
- The worst of all – I worry that I will lose my vision. (This one keeps me awake.)
Ok, I admit that some of these are tongue-in-cheek, perhaps even stupid (except for the last one which truly has given me a sleepless few hours). And I’m not really that much of a mess, although I have my moments. When I read, as I do frequently because hearing loss is my field of work, that people with hearing loss are prone to depression, anxiety and social withdrawal – it’s enough to make you crawl under a rock!
So what to do? Just smile, dust off the sense of humor (even though it’s not scheduled to come back on until tomorrow at 7am), and get out there and enjoy!