Can you hear me now?

This will come as no surprise to those who know me best, but I’m kind of a geek.  I’m not much on technical manuals, or even reading a simple instruction sheet — I’d rather muddle through and see if I can figure out whatever it is I’m trying to do.  I love discovering that some electronic gadget I’ve spent money on will do things I never knew it had the capacity to do.  I love when things work.  I love being connected to the world via my tech toys — primarily iPhone and iPad — to the point that my husband refers to me as the Porta-Hottie.  Oh, bless him.

Last week I came into some new technology that is making my life infinitely easier, more interesting, and less stressful.  More on that in a bit.  First, by way of explanation, I’m bringing up another post from my original blog, this one written in August of 2012 …

I am listening

Odd how life keeps moving, whether you’re paying attention or not.  Strange things happen, and unless you pause just long enough to catch the blur, you might miss the whole thing entirely.

During a hospital stay for my husband (in July of 2012), I picked up the phone in my hotel room, held it to my left ear, and buzzed the front desk.  There were tiny scratchy-sounding noises on the other end but no voice, so I assumed the phone was out of order.  Not exactly.  The extremely polite young maintenance man who came to my room could hear just fine.  Cue icy fingers of dread on the back of my neck.

Two weeks later, Kim and I found ourselves sitting in the office of an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist.  Holding the results of my hearing test and looking intently at the two of us, she said, “So.  What took you so long?  This is bad.”  To which we answered, at the exact same time, “Pride.”

Somewhere along the line, in the process of living a full and busy life, and most likely helped along by my years as a tractor jockey, I’ve lost all my highs and lows and a considerable amount of what’s supposed to be in between.  It happened so gradually at first I wasn’t consciously aware of what was taking place, but I did know I was missing things people said and that the problem was growing steadily more frustrating.  I couldn’t figure out why Kim always deliberately lowered the sound level when we were watching TV, and I uncharacteristically snapped at him for it.  I was irritated that nearly everyone seemed to speak rapidly and in very subdued tones.  It was becoming much more relaxing to stay home rather than put myself in situations where I had to strain to keep up.

I was aware on some level that I was perpetually asking Kim to increase the TV volume … but not that I was plastering him against the back wall of the living room ala an old Maxell ad.  Patient loving soul that he is, he never really let on.  He knows I don’t react well to being told what to do, so he was in the process of, in his words, “gently leading me to the proper decision.”

The day of my exam, this card-carrying senior citizen (gasp!) became the proud owner of a set of high-dollar, high-tech personal audio enhancement devices.  They’re sweet little triangle-shaped computers about an eighth of an inch thick that nestle behind the top part of my ears, and each one is attached to a tiny, almost invisible, tube that ends in an extremely small speaker that tucks inside my ear.  My hairdresser and I conspired on a slightly modified haircut, and no one on God’s green earth would know I wear these little guys.  Except that I’ve just told you.

There’s a reason why I chose right away to break my silence (pun intended) about something I was originally very reluctant to admit I needed — life is too brief and too beautiful to risk missing out on.  If you suspect that your audio capabilities could use a boost, don’t wait.  What I thought would make me feel older instead makes me feel infinitely younger.  For one thing, constantly saying “What?” does not make you seem hip.

Suddenly being able to hear again was something of a shock.  The sheer mass and variety of sounds was overwhelming at first.  But it’s been a very gratifying trip to sit back and observe while my brain does what it’s designed to do — delineate and categorize the individual kinds of input and label them important, not so important, okay to ignore, and so on.

There are myriad sounds I hadn’t heard in a very long time but didn’t realize I was doing without.  The swish of my own bare feet on our tile floors.  Birds outside my office window.  The tick of my star-shaped clock on the wall.  The rush and patter of rain, with its thunderous applause.  A hundred sweet little accompaniments to the ballet of daily living.  Sometimes it touches me so deeply to be able to hear again, it moves me to tears.  When I take my ears off, my world instantly reverts to mute.  The contrast is staggering.

If you identify with any of what I’ve said, an audio test is one of the best gifts you could give yourself and those who love you, and it would be a shame to let pride rob you of some of life’s purest joys.  I’m far too young to “need” this technology … and yet I do.  And it gets better …

Maxell ad

At last week’s appointment, my audiologist sent me home with a blue-tooth device that lets me control my hearing aids from my iPhone … and a little microphone that sits next to the TV (or wherever I want to transport it) and puts the audio directly into my ears.  I’ve been listening to my iTunes music wirelessly as well.  And at the dinner theater where my husband is chef, I can choose yet another setting on my phone that puts the “house” into my ears.  I’m getting younger by the minute.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. MylenesMusings
    Feb 08, 2013 @ 10:36:33

    Wonderful post, Judy. Thank you for sharing.



  2. jwarnimo
    Feb 07, 2013 @ 15:59:15

    Hi Judy,

    Great post here. I’m in the same geeky boat, where I would rather leave directions in the box and fiddle around with new technology myself. I’m glad your new hearing devices have helped you feel younger! Stay in touch.



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