No wonder I get along so well with the elderly members of my weekly writing workshop in a local retirement home. We have so much in common. Call me precocious, but just this week I was diagnosed with hearing loss.
Hearing loss is something that can sneak up on you, unknowingly, over time—I had just assumed it would be a good seventy, eighty, or ninety years. But no, mine arrived early. And I thought my husband was talking lower for some reason, that various rooms had acoustical problems, that cell phones didn’t work as well as land lines used to, and that no phone worked as well as when you can see the person talking. A week ago I almost excused myself from jury duty because whenever the judge brought his hand up to his mouth, I was challenged to understand what he was saying. Turns out, of course, I’ve been supplementing my hearing with a little lip reading. And it wasn’t acoustics in the room; it was my inner ear. How long this had been going on I do not know, but I wish I could do my MFA in Creative Writing all over again. For words were what we lived for at Goddard, and there were numerous readings where, if I hadn’t arrived early enough to secure a seat up front, I was often challenged to hear. I’d like to try it again with the new devise being manufactured for my ears now.
I am surprising not only my husband and friends, but also myself, with my forthright, proactive response to my hearing diagnosis. Heck, I am even blogging about it. Perhaps I just think there are other things to worry about, and as my mother suggested, this is one problem where something can be done. (I am, by the way, experiencing hearing loss before either of my parents). In any case, I am trying to look at needing hearing aids simply like needing reading glasses. For forty years I didn’t think I’d ever need glasses either, and now I wouldn’t think to read without them.
We will just have to see. No doubt I’ve been living with more than my share of quiet, and in many ways it’s been rather nice. I am not so sure I want to hear everything. And chances are I’ve been doing a lot of nodding in social situations the past few years, and it remains to be seen whether I am as agreeable as it appeared. These are questions that only hearing aids can answer.