Ode to an Aid



gael aid

You’re lying on my bedside table and before I fall asleep

I’m looking at you closely for the first time in a long time

I’m thinking about how much, to my surprise, I love you—and why.


Well, it’s not because of your looks.

One square inch of plastic and wires,

Your color referred to professionally as flesh tone

By people without imagination as beige

And by me, in all honesty, as ugly.


Your shape is a cross between an extracted tooth and a kidney bean

With a white beard that locks you into my ear

Your shiny surface reflects light, except where bits of cerumen

Nestle in your curves and creases, waiting to be wiped clean.


For such a small creature, you have a lot of orifices,

Openings that suck sound in one end and belch it out the other

An air vent that keeps feedback to a minimum

Except when my ear canal widens as I brush my teeth,

Chew my food or laugh my head off.

Out of the biggest opening comes a plastic wheel-well

That clasps a fresh battery and disappears with it inside,

Then you chime your delight and immediately change

From a lifeless lump of plastic

To a life-changing spark plug.


Do you know what they say about beauty?

It’s what’s inside that counts, and I guess that’s true about you.

But I don’t really want to see your inner machinery

Because I believe in magic and I’d be disappointed

Not to see tiny hearing elves

Making magic happen when that battery comes in.gael aid


Once I had a glimpse—

I removed an aid from my ear to show a group of students

Half of it stuck stubbornly in my ear canal, and

Aghast, I held up the top half with its forlorn wires

Hanging naked and useless.

There was nothing to do but laugh, so we did.


I do love you, you know.

For all the times I’ve cursed you, dropped you, and lost you,

I’m sorry.

I have expected more from you than you can deliver,

Because you cannot be a perfect hearing system. Not yet.

And I have not thanked you when you delivered more

Than I ever expected, giving me sounds that my memory had forgotten

And new ones that did not exist before my hearing left,

Like the sound of my own baby breathing.


No, you’re not pretty.

You’re high maintenance.

You cost money.

But if I didn’t have you, I would be heartbroken and

Isolated, cut off from my people.

So no, you’re not pretty—you’re beautiful

And I love you,

Good night.


gael aid

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.


  1. That was wonderful. A new perspective on these things in my ears. Tonight I will put them to bed and tell them I’m so happy to have them.

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