“I Wannabe a Hearing Person”: The Rant

Ask me how my summer has been, and I will be honest: it’s been a mixed bag. Some great fun, sure, but it’s also the summer when I got a new hearing aid AND a new cochlear implant sound processor. AND new apps on my phone that stream them. All within a few weeks!

Summer stress: device adjustments, sound levels, hearing assessments, too loud, not loud enough, beeps coming from everywhere, and tinnitus glowing red.

At times like these, I actively wish I could pick a different condition, preferably one not too painful, and revert to being a hearing person. With a quiet head. Yes, the green-eyed monster rises up every once in a while. I can’t help it.

I look at people with no hearing loss and think, “You don’t even appreciate how good you’ve got it! Good hearing is wasted on you!”

I don’t want to be them. I don’t want their looks, money, career, body shape or Instagram followers. All I want, every once in a while, is their ability to hear. To just relax and “get it” in real time, in the moment, unaided, without working at it. My hot fantasy is to throw off my hearing aid and sound processor and breathe the sounds of life into my ears. Naturally, easily.

Sometimes, in those green-eyed moments, I engage in a little bargaining. I’d scrub heaven’s floor in the morning and polish the gates of hell in the afternoon—just so that I could experience effortless hearing. This is a deep confession from the person who, for the past 25 years, has been writing and talking about how to live skillfully with hearing loss. We just need to learn our stuff, keep our elbows up and be ready with a good sidekick and head-butt to break down the barriers to better communication.

My friend Myrtle told me years ago that “Hearing people do what they do best—they hear.” They can’t help it. But they’re not more worthy than me just because they can hear the ‘T’ in ‘pizza’. (You’re pronouncing ‘pizza’ to yourself right now, aren’t you?)  I don’t feel inferior; my sense of self-awesomeness is intact. But I like saying things correctly and the fact that they can hear that T-in-pizza amazes me. I only found out about it when a friend said she couldn’t stand hearing me say pee-zuh anymore. Why wasn’t I told this as a kid? It would have saved me years of peezuh-eating. Even now, with enhanced electronic hearing, I still sometimes ask friends how to say words.

“Does ‘gargantuan’ have a hard ‘g’ or soft ‘g’ or both?”

(Pause.) “I don’t even know what that means.”

“It means huge, really big.”

“Well, then use ‘big’. Because I know it’s got a hard ‘g’.”

So, what can hearing people do so well that I cannot, even with the world’s best devices?

They can talk through walls. A kitchen to living room conversation is nothing for these folks. (Wow.)

They can hear and understand you without looking at you, while they’re checking their phone, for example. (Multitask-hearing.)

They can have a convo in the dark. (Saves on electricity.)

They can follow the flow in a group conversation. (An exciting superpower!)

They can tell you where a sound is coming from. (Are they making it up?)

They can also find quiet when they want it, because there’s no orchestra playing in their head. (I want me some of that!)

I’m grateful for my technology and what it does for me; i.e., I now know that “th” is only sometimes pronounced in ‘clothes, and that ‘n’ at the end of column is silent.

Yet – it’s a comforting and guilty pleasure to occasionally give in to my Green-Eyed Monster. But since I don’t plan on visiting heaven or hell any time soon, I’ll keep punching out those barriers and asking people for help with the tough words.

Thanks for listening to my rant. I hope you’re having a great summer.

 

 

About Gael Hannan

The Better HearingConsumer addresses the personal experience of living with hearing loss. Editor Gael Hannan and her occasional guest bloggers explore every corner of the hearing loss life with humor and poignancy. Comment Policy   Gael Hannan, Editor Gael Hannan is an author, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog at the Better Hearing Consumer, which has a passionate international following,Gael has written two acclaimed books, “The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss”and “Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss”, written with Shari Eberts. 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 that advocates for individuals to become more knowledgeable and successful at dealing with their hearing loss and a more inclusive society for them to live in. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, Canada. Books and other media Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss. Written with Shari Eberts and available anywhere books are sold. The Way I Hear It: A Life With Hearing Loss. Available through online bookstores. Unheard Voices, DVD, vignettes from the hearing loss life. Contact Gael Hannan to order.

7 Comments

  1. Oh Gael, your blog made me tear up. Painfully honest. Oh I wish I could make your frustrations go away. With blogs like this you are helping those of who (still) have most of it, better understand what living with hearing loss is about. This blog should be required reading for every hearing health provider and audiologist student.

  2. Thanks for sharing! This is what I want “hearing people” to truly understand! Including health professionals.

  3. Gael,
    Thanks very much for this post. I have had a hearing loss for more than 40 years and my hearing has gotten worse over time. I am an advocate for people with hearing loss and am writing a book about it. I am part of the Get in the Hearing Loop crowd. I give advice when asked. I send people to audiologists and to your books. I am hip (as we used to say). But deep in my heart, I just want to hear again.
    Dorothy Miller
    P.S. Loved the part about hearing through walls. That’s how I discovered that I had a hearing loss. I didn’t think anyone could hear through walls and that they were being rude when they tried to talk with me through a wall. And so on.

  4. Wow! You’r summer is almost like my summer. Including your thougts. I call it “the little devil on my shoulder”. Sometimes he is there…..
    While my friends were at the terrace and at festivals I was sitting home to recover and in the process of how to hear again. I had surgery on July 7th (where I got the implant) and last Tuesday I was connected. My first CI! And just like you I have a new hearing aid. it’s exciting but exhausting.
    Sometimes I’m tired of telling I don’t understand. Or to repeat the sentence. I want to go to that concert and understand what they are singing………

    But I am gratefull for the technology and that I am qualified for the CI. And I am sure that it will be better than before.
    And, even though I don’t hear everything, I can really enjoy the atmosphere and the feeling. And luckily I’m often the first to joke when I don’t hear it right again….. Life is too short…..

  5. How true! And, yes, I did pronounce pizza!!! What your columns always do is remind me I am not alone.
    Wendy

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