It’s Me Again, Santa – the Lady with Hearing Loss?

Dear Santa,

How are you? I am fine. Don’t you just love this time of year?  What a dumb question – of course you do. You’re a rock star of the season! cheerful santa

Ok, now that all the nicey-nice stuff is out of the way, I’ll tell you why I’m writing again. Yes, that’s right – again. I’m the HoH (hard of hearing) lady who wrote you on December 6th, 2011 and on December 11, 2012.  I’m attaching the letters for two reasons. First, they were really good letters that took a lot of thought and effort. Second, I didn’t get anything I asked for.

So, I thought I would write again – and this time I’m suggesting that we make a deal that’s not so one-sided; if you give me something, I’ll give you something. That’s the spirit of the season, isn’t it?  (I was taught that it’s better to give than to receive, but if I can be honest, I really like getting stuff too.)  Perhaps your personal elf should take some notes, because what I’m asking for, will also help many people with hearing loss on your list. You may not have noticed, especially if your own hearing is still good, but there are an awful lot of us HoHs around these days.

And this year, we all want toys.

If that elf of yours is rolling around on the floor laughing, you just tell him to button it, because people my age (the exact number is irrelevant) are not too old for toys. You deliver battery-operated toys to kids, right? Well, that’s exactly what we want – technical toys to help us hear. You should be able to make ’em easily in your toy factory…just move a few elves off the MP3 player production line and set up a new assistive devices assembly line. Trust me, Santa, your customer satisfaction rate is about to go through the roof.

We want FM systems, neck loops, alerting systems, phones that are captioned and amplified. In fact, we want captioning on everything – TVs, smart phones, land lines, and dinner parties. Yup, how about a speech-to-text processor that I can keep on my bread ‘n’ butter plate, which captions everything my relatives are saying – in real time. Oh, I’m vibrating with excitement at the thought of finding that in my stocking, Santa. Could you also carry a few extra neck loops in your sack? People can plug them into their MP3 players and connect with their hearing aids or cochlear implants to bring the exquisite, emotional music of the season right into their ears. It wouldn’t get much better than that, Santa, for those who have heard their music fade and slip away through the years.

Uh, may I suggest that you get some new reading glasses? Because you missed the part where I asked for a new FM system. Mind you, the new clothes were fabulous, so even though I wasn’t able to communicate too well, I sure did look good at the party, sitting in the corner reading the new vegan cookbook you also brought me, for some reason.  Just saying…)

And here’s something good – a wonderful gift idea for any HoH, anywhere. Remember when I asked for a round dining room table to make speechreading easier? That request was clearly a dud, so  how about this? Put a couple of elves to work on a big plywood circle that I can secure on top of my existing table, so that I can go eyeball to eyeball with anyone at the table, without straining my neck or having to eat standing up. (And if you do bring it, you’ll have to throw in a round table cloth too.)

A couple more techno-stocking-stuffer ideas to help HoHs do what they would love to do best – communicate.

 

  • There are mind-boggling smartphone apps out there that can connect us and our hearing aids (a recent selfie-giftbut not one that  everyone can afford, Santa) to almost anything, boosting us into the powerful, connected communicators that we all dream of being.

 

  • Earplugs for the hearing aid user – here’s a challenge for your elf geniuses! I went to a hockey game last week and the pre-game music was over 110 dB! That’s not only painfully loud but also beyond dangerous! My inner ear hair cells were trembling at the noise barrage, and I need all the hair cells I’ve got!  I replaced my  hearing aids (because I can’t control the volume) with earplugs.  They helped a lot, but I was very anxious sitting with my multi-thousand dollar hearing aids in my purse.  Earplugs, Santa, think earplugs. 

 

That’s about it. Sir, if none of this possible, I will happily accept peace and happiness for the whole wide world as my main gift this year, something I’ve been waiting for, for a long time – a much better present than a neck loop or earplugs.

For my part, I’m telling people about you. I’m reminding people with hearing loss that there is a Santa Claus. They just need to know what to ask for and how to ask for it. But first, they really have to want and be ready to fight for that most precious gift that links people to each other – the ability to communicate.  As HoHs, we communicate a bit differently from the hearing people, but our end goal is the same – and the end result should be the same, too.

Thank you, Santa. Have a great trip and dress warmly. Keep the toy shop music at 85 dB or less, and could you play a different reindeer song on the sleigh radio this year – Rudolf is really sick of that other one!  Maybe I’ll send him some earplugs.

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.

8 Comments

  1. Gael, Just want to wish you and your family a very merry Christmas and hope to see you at the annual conference in Toronto. I am sooooo thankful for my cochlear implant. I even discovered today I can understand what is said on the radio as long as I’m pretty close. So far not good with TV and am still using the captions and speaker phone is pretty good but not a regular phone. I know I’m feeling more confident in social settings even though the background noise is a problem. Anyway I’m happy and hope others decide to go the CI way!! Joan

  2. Depending on the state you live in, here in Texas, hearing aids and hearing aid batteries are not taxable. Also, they have newer devices available that are far better and simpler than the FM system. And why have your Audiologists not set the Maximum Power Output on your hearing aids to compress when you are in an environment that exceeds a safe level??? I’m just wondering why y’all aren’t able to get the things on your list? Starkey has a HEAR NOW foundation for financial assistance. And most states have some type of assistance for a working disabled person. & Merry Christmas to all of you! I hope some of this information is helpful to some of you.

  3. Great column, as always. Your sense of humor is infectious — always makes me feel better about my own hearing loss.
    How about adding to that list some very clear instructions about how these things work, and some more efficient ways of figuring out what’s wrong.
    I’ve had an FM system for about three years. It’s VERY temperamental. Even my audiologist is flummoxed. When it isn’t working I can’t tell if it’s the FM device itself, my smart phone’s Bluetooth, or my hearing aid T-Coil. Neither can the audiologist. So first the FM goes back to the manufacturer (for two weeks), then the hearing aid (another two weeks). Then it works in the audiologist’s office but once I get home I’ve forgotten the combinations — FM plus three beeps? M plus two beeps? How do I use it to make a call on my smart phone? How come I don’t hear anything when I dial a number? How do I get to my music? How do I plug it into the TV so that it doesn’t mute the sound for others? I need my own personal elf, trained in technology.
    There’s gotta be an easier way.

  4. I would like to say, as a HoH RN working in a hospital setting, that those “toys” would be wonderful to have, but first, you must start off with the essentials; the hearing aids themselves. Few insurances carry coverage, and if they do, they don’t pay an appreciable percentage of the cost. And they are NOT cheap! I also have a HoH daughter,, who is not currently working (she is also visually disabled) but she IS a wife and mother, who has no hearing aids, and is having a great deal of difficulty socializing and just generally taking care of business on a day to day basis. I need new ones and cannot afford a new set for myself, let alone for her! Essentials, ma’am!

  5. And, Dear Santa,

    There should be no sales tax on any of these items. They should be considered medical expenses. Something HLAA needs to work on. Merry Christmas all!

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