The virtual process of aging brings on a certain level of hearing loss to those in the “Autumn Season” of life; slowly without much fanfare and ever so subtly the world around us is hushed. This past week, a virus decided to attack my ear canals and has afforded me the opportunity to experience the world of the hard of hearing overnight.
My husband will attest to the fact I’m not the most patient person, when I find myself repeating a statement for the 2nd or 3rd time. One day, awhile back, I found myself repeating almost everything I said to him. Yes, I was frustrated and my frustration began to show.
He retorted, “You know I don’t hear well, yet you don’t speak louder so I can hear you. And, you’re always walking away from me when you’re talking.”
“I don’t understand why you won’t look into getting hearing aids?” (All about making my life easier, not his)
“I have, they’re not covered by our insurance; they’re too expensive.”
Then, I saw the hurt in his eyes. The realization hit, my patience with my husband’s disability is less than stellar. How difficult would it be for me to exert a little effort? How difficult to make sure I had his attention before speaking? How much energy does it take to walk into the same room and face my husband when I want to dialogue with him? This week has brought complete clarity and understanding to the challenge my husband and others like him face.
People who have difficulty hearing often seem withdrawn and unsociable. I’d be willing to bet you they’re not unsociable. They cannot hear most of the dialogue therefore it’s easier to just sit quietly. We in the hearing world forget they cannot hear us completely. We carry on our conversations without a 2nd thought. Unintentionally forgetting they may only be hearing about 25% of our dialogue.
Thinking spicy food might help drain whatever was causing the impacting of my ear canals, hubby and I headed to our favorite Mexican Restaurant. Once inside, he headed for the little boys room while I waited for a table. The cute young hostess spoke to me, but I couldn’t hear her. Assuming she was offering to seat us at our table, I smiled with a nod, hoping I hadn’t just volunteered to buy lunch for the entire restaurant. After being shown to our table, the waiter came to take our order. I found myself chuckling at the interaction taking place. I couldn’t hear what he was asking and he wasn’t sure what I was ordering; eventually we succeeded. The food was yummy.
I experienced what a hard of hearing person experiences everyday of their life. Because so many suffer from hearing loss, we tend to not take notice, or to fully grasp the emotional side of this disability. I now understand how hearing loss could lead to isolation. It would simply be easier to stay home. Isolation will eventually lead to loneliness and loneliness may lead to depression and the list goes on.
I cannot tell my own voice volume. There’s no audible cue for the volume level. I have no idea if I’m speaking softly, or loudly, or somewhere in the middle; a unique challenge all by itself.
Yesterday, while washing dishes, I kept trying to adjust the water pressure. I finally realized the water pressure was fine. It was me who had the problem; I could barely hear the water. I’m discovering more and more how much I use my hearing for simple daily routines which I never connected hearing as a part of the task.
When my hearing returns, I pray the lessons I’m learning will not be forgotten. I pray to be more sensitive and observant to those around me who are hearing impaired; my husband ranking 1st on my list. I pray I take time to lean in and listen; speaking at a volume they can hear, without displaying frustration and impatience. I pray every day I will be more grateful for the world around me. God has blessed and filled our world with beautiful sights and wonderful sounds. Sounds, I’ve taken for granted.
It’s been over a week and I’m grateful to have some hearing. I know by the volume setting on my television, I’ve lost a pretty good percentage. The Doc said it may take a while before full hearing returns. I’ve no reason to believe my hearing loss is anything but temporary. Yet, with each passing day of partial deafness, one can’t help but wonder or ask the question, “What If”… I shared my fear and concerns with the Lord; then opened my Bible to Romans chapter 12. It was here, through these verses I heard God say, Sandra keep up your spiritual fervor. Be joyful in hope, faithful in prayer and patient in affliction.
Until next time,