My Alphabet Sound Soup

I am not usually a fan of alphabet lists. You know the kind – M.O.T.H.E.R is spelled out starting with M is for the Milk you made me drink, O is for the Overcoat that was ugly but you said who-cares-it-will-keep-you-warm …and so on.

But on a long cross-country flight, I was thinking about blog topics and started doodling with a list of the sounds and emotions related to hearing loss, my own in particular. Many of them are positive and many of them ain’t, including some recent, interesting (ahem!) developments.

And so, in the air between Victoria and Ottawa, I came up with a somewhat fluffy A-Z list that won’t take you long to read, and which helped pass the time in a flight that had no captioned movies.


A is for the new hearing Aids that I’m almost used to except now, with this new behind-the-ear model, I can hear my reading glasses sliding through my hair. Does everybody hear that?

B is for the Boom-box in my head. Unfortunately I can’t control the tinnitus songs it plays and I’m trying to figure out how to turn it off.

C is for Cochlear implant for which I am currently being evaluated. Really.

D is for Down in the Dumps which can happen to any person with hearing loss from time to time. (Please see letter U.)

E is for Elation, the feeling you get when you correctly identify a sound AND its location—which you couldn’t do with your old hearing aids!

F and G are for Feeling Good about the possibility that there are solutions to my hearing-related issues.

H is for Hyperacusis, another new companion which came along with the boom-box. But I’ve started working with an audiologist who specializes in retraining therapies. (See F-G above.)

I is for Internal noise, which I wish I could share with you but I can’t. And I don’t want to hear yours, either.

J is for Jealousy – what I feel when I look at people who don’t have noise bouncing around their inner cranium. This is me just being honest here.

K is for Kaka, which can happen to anybody. It’s a nicer way of saying shit happens and is the only answer I know to that universal question delivered to the sky: “Why me?”

El-em-en-o-pee, which is how kids recite L-M-N-O-P, letters which I’m skipping because, like, it’s really hard to think up 26 of these, you know?

Q is for Quick fix. There currently is none for dealing with most aspects of hearing loss. But with time and patience (oh, gee, could have used that for P), things will get better. I know that sounds fairy tale-ish.  “Will things ever get better?” asked the Bear of Very Little Brain.  “Of course, Pooh, if you just believe it, they will—and if you get a good audiologist,” replied Christopher Robin.pooh3

R is for Rest. People with hearing loss need lots of rest, more than I’m getting apparently. Listening and Speechreading are harder for a tired person and Tinnitus and TTTS (see the letter T) and Hyperacusis are worse when overtired or anxious. But thinking about the need to de-stress has the opposite effect—it stresses me out! Because I didn’t realize I was stressed in the first place! I think about this when I wake up in the middle of the night and lie there, listening to head noise.

S is for Scissor-Snip, which is how I’m going to remove the hearing aid pull strings that stick out from my ears like tiny Martian sensors. That will make me happy.

T is for TTTS, Tonic Tensor Tympani Syndrome. You probably don’t have it – or even heard of it. Which is good for you, because I never did, either, until I got it. Retraining therapies (or a shot of Botox) will help and I’ve already started the process (not the Botox- yet). Keep yer fingers crossed. (If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears.)

U is for Up, which is the opposite of Down (see letter D) and is the best and only attitude that will see us through the life with hearing loss. If you’ve got the blues, try watching a laugh-out-loud movie or TV show or a YouTube funny pet montage. Always works for me.

V is for…brain freeze. Can’t think of a V.

Y is for Yes! I’m almost at Z.

Z is for Zippety-doo-dah, Zippety-ay!  I’ve done A to Zee without El-em-en-o-pee. (In Canada that would be A to Zed, but that doesn’t rhyme with El-em-en-o-pee.


Fluffy or not, I recommend this A-Z exercise to anyone dealing with hearing loss or any disability or emotional issue; it brings things in focus, at least for the moment. It’s also useful when you have nothing else to do. The trick is to try and balance the scales, don’t let negatives weigh you down. Add in some positives. On the flight, wearing earplugs to block out the noise, the exercise helped me stare down the cruddy stuff with the realization that I am taking steps to do something about it.

Where will it lead?  I’ll give Winnie the Pooh the last word:


Picture credits: Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne


About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for, 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.


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