“Listen to your inner voice.” How often are we encouraged to heed those voices that supposedly guide us through life?
But as people with hearing loss (who are always listening in our attempts to hear and understand), we should also pay attention to what our assistive technology is trying to tell us.
It sends us clues that, far too often, we ignore until a mini disaster strikes. I was always one dead battery away from hysterics. If the battery croaked sooner than normal, I would mildly panic that the hearing aid itself had passed away, until I inserted a fresh battery and hearing was restored to me.
Sometimes, our devices simply need some reassuring, some tender loving care, and we need to respond to their needs as we would for anything important to us.
An early complaint from my first hearing aid:
Have you forgotten about me?
I’m here in the dark—a drawer or a box— and I think I’ve been here for a long time. I thought you were coming back, but it seems like weeks since I’ve seen the light of day. Don’t you miss me? How are you getting along without me? Why did I even ask that question? You can’t get along without me because you can’t hear well without me! You’re delusional if you think you can, sister! And after all the hard work I do for you…don’t you love me anymore? Help, somebody, let me outta here!
Hearing Aid: When I grow up, will I become a cochlear implant?
Me: Nope, this is the final stage for you, my love. I do have to admit that your twin over there on the right ear had to, uh, leave…to make way for a cochlear implant. But there’s good news, buddy! You’re now part of a successful bimodal team that helps me hear better!
HA: But the cochlear implant has a silver ear cuff…so why can’t I dress up as a princess?
Me: Because I don’t do pink. Ever. And you look lovely as you are–and I don’t try to hide you.
HA: Do I sound faint to you? Is it time to change my dome (or wax guard)? And what about my bath?
Me: Feeling a little grungy? OK, OK, I’m on it. Changing the dome, wiping you off, cleaning your vents. Also, changing the cochlear implant sound processor’s microphone protectors, too.
Hearing Aid, responding to my occasional rant.
What are you getting mad at me for? I would like to say that I’m DEEPLY offended when you start cussing and carrying on, as if the faults in how I operate are mine. I am what I am, created by others and operated by you. I do my best and if you have any further issues, kindly take them up with the management and stop yelling at me.
HA: It’s time to visit the hearing care specialist. I miss her! I love going; it’s a cross between the doctor and the amusement park. Sometimes it hurts a bit, but mostly it tickles when she pokes about in my orifices. And I just feel so good when we’re done, like teeth after a cleaning, like a puppy after a bath. I’m recharged and raring to go. And you hear better; I know you do, because your ears start pricking up at sounds, like a rabbit’s.
Me: It’s booked.
Hearing aid, in a rare moment of self-pity, or perhaps a moment of clear vision:
I’m getting very old; have you thought about replacing me?
I don’t think I can go on much longer. I’m sputtering. I’m shrinking in your ear and the air is escaping around me and making noises. I hate to admit this, but I’m not as good at my job as I used to be, because you’re not hearing so well. I would like to retire with dignity, if you’ll let me. Gather up your money and have a chat with the audiologist because these new devices coming out are beyond amazing. If you do that, I’m prepared to rest in a comfy retirement spot, on standby in case you ever need me in a pinch. Goodbye, this may be my last entry.
Me: Oh get over yourself—you’ve got a lot of life left in you! I love you, don’t leave me.
Listen to that inner hearing aid voice. You’ll hear better if you do.