- Special Sections
- Public Notices
When people are near blindness, straining to see through thick-lens glasses, people, in general, admire their courage and have some sympathy for their challenges. I’m pretty sure if someone is completely deaf, they are also extending understanding.
Not so, for the hard-of-hearing. People yell at them. Sure, it’s what they have to do to get them to hear, but it’s usually mixed with a good dose of, “You’re really annoying.”
I know this, because I come from a long line of strong women who could hardly hear a thing after age 40, and they’ve annoyed me with their blaring TVs, loud voices and constant requests for repetition.
But, sometimes their infirmity has been down-right funny. Recently, my aunt called my mother and asked her to get her something from the store. “You want a duck pan?” my mother asked. “A duck pan, what’s a duck pan? Do you have a duck?”
My aunt began to laugh. “Dust pan—dust pan,” she said.
A lot of times my mother will just say, “SPELL IT,” because it’s the tones in speech that are imperceptible. The sad part is, my mom already has two hearing aids. She swears her hearing loss is due to shooting guns without ear protection (but, that’s another story).
Even though she still has some difficulty hearing, my mother’s hearing aids definitely help her. However, without insurance coverage to defray the expense, many people cannot afford them.
“In 2004, the average cost of one hearing aid (including the device and professional services) was approximately $1,800; 70 percent of individuals with hearing loss require two devices,” according to the National Institute on Deafness Web site. “Also, Medicare and most private insurance companies don’t cover them. Considering that a hearing aid’s lifespan is only four to five years, a hearing aid wearer could spend tens of thousands of dollars on aids over his or her lifetime.”
According to statistics, nearly 17 percent (36 million) of American adults have hearing loss complaints and it’s estimated that 15 percent (26 million) of Americans 20-69 have “high frequency” hearing loss. But, only one out of five people who would benefit from a hearing aid, actually wears one. No doubt, the cost is a big factor, but sometimes it’s a bit of stubbornness.
And now, my daughter raises her voice and spells things when she talks to me. After years of—“pardon me? I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get that? And, What did you say?” I realized, I’ve become my mother. Frankly, sometimes—out of embarrassment, I just pretend that I hear, which can sometimes end up precarious.
“You have a cookie-bite hearing loss,” the otolaryngologist (an ear, nose and throat specialist) said. “It’s hereditary. Do people in your family lose their hearing at a young age?” (I was in my 40’s)
“I don’t know,” I said. “They won’t admit that they can’t hear, until their nearly 80.”
Hereditary hearing loss—I’d always thought it was from listening to the Beatles singing love—“Love me, do,” with screaming fans, on the Ed Sullivan Show (but, that’s another story). The day I got my hearing aids, I was more aware of my own voice and when I walked outside, I was astounded by the sound of chirping birds. Now, I can hear the squeak in my ceiling fan and, most of the time, I can understand what my husband is saying in his low-tone voice—I used to say, “look at me, I have to see your lips move when you talk to me.” This, I learned, is a normal way the brain compensates for hearing loss; we automatically pick up lip reading. Being able to hear has made me a happier person. I didn’t realize how much not hearing well had affected me.
Yet, shamefully, it’s still annoying when I have to repeat myself to the hard-of-hearing, and I’m one of them—I think it’s human nature to dislike repeating, unless it’s for our own emphasis. We are such frail and imperfect creatures with all our physical infirmities and character flaws.
In Isaiah 35: 4-6, the Bible reads in part: “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come ... Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. (New International Version).”
(Linda Lawrence is the editorial assistant for the Grant County News. She can be reached at 824-3343 or by e-mail at email@example.com.)