Sorry I wasn't here yesterday. I had an appointment with my audiologist. That's hearing doctor to those of you are aren't fluent in "ologys". There are so many different kinds of "ologists" how could anyone be expected to know them all? I certainly don't. And in any case, I was wrong. Yeah. And it's a terrific bit of irony too.
The last time I had an appointment with my Audiologist, Dr. Lundstrom, it was at my request. I could tell there was a difference in my hearing. We did, well not a full on test, but a quickie hearing test just to check and yup, I was correct. There was another dip. Dang. So she made a few adjustments, everything sounded better and I went on my merry way.
As I was leaving she reminded me to make an appointment for my hearing test. Or at least that's what I thought she said. Turns out she said I needed to make an appointment for a hearing aid check. Check. Test. Sounded exactly the same to me. And the word "aid" vanished completely. It is a short word and a soft one at that. And to be absolutely honest, I think I was paying more attention to grabbing my purse, finding my keys and sunglasses, my wallet to pay, all of the, getting ready to leave stuff. I probably was not looking at her when she was talking. It is a quiet office, she has a very clear voice, this is all on me.
But it was a surprise when I arrived yesterday fully prepared to have my hearing tested and only needed to have my hearing aids checked. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the check. My devices were thoroughly and professionally cleaned and tested to make sure all of the working parts, worked. And it cost me nothing but time. It's a good thing. But haha on me. I heard that sentence so very wrong. Get it? I HEARD things wrong in an audiology office! HAHAHAHAHAHA! Sometimes I just crack me up.
So I thought this might be a good time to take the opportunity to do a little PSA about communicating with people who have hearing loss. And before you say, ho hum how very boring, please know that more people than ever are losing their hearing and at younger and younger ages. It's a noisy old world out their folks. 1 in 8 people over the age of 12 in the US have hearing loss currently. And that number just goes up as time goes by. So in due time, this could apply to you too.
I would say that the one biggest thing that most people with good hearing do not understand about those of us with poor hearing is that it's not about volume. It's about clarity. I could tell that Dr. Lundstrom was talking. I even believed that I understood what she was saying. And I was completely totally entirely wrong. Jokes on me, right?
Generally speaking when a person begins to lose their hearing it's not everything at once and it doesn't sound like somebody turned the volume down on the entire world. It's gaps. Bits and pieces of sound begin to diminish and eventually perhaps even disappear entirely. Sound isn't one level straight line. There are highs and lows, peaks and valleys, speed bumps and potholes. Even in one single multisyllabic word there are a lot of different highs and lows of sound. Someone with hearing loss might capture a few of those sounds and miss others. Our brains are hard wired to "fix" things, to solve puzzles, so our brains go to what it believes is the most logical (or what seems to be the most logical) solution. And in this case, my brain didn't quite hear "check" and therefore turned it into "test". It made sense to me at the time.
My hearing loss is primarily high frequency sounds. Things like water running, zippers zipping, the wind in the trees and consonants. Yup dang it, consonants. Vowels I generally can hear, consonants, not so much. And think of the trouble you can get into with that! Hat Cat Bat Fat Mat Rat.....unaided all of those words sound the same to me. If I look at you while you are talking, I probably can figure out the correct word either by reading lips or from conversational context, but otherwise? Nope.
And yelling at a person with hearing loss? Nope again. That doesn't help at all. First of all it's rude. It's nearly impossible to yell at people kindly. Secondly, when a person yells the words are distorted which isn't helpful to anyone. Lastly, if I cannot understand what you are saying at a normal conversational level, I absolutely cannot understand you if you are yelling. The only difference is that now I cannot understand you really loud. What works best is talking at a perfectly normal conversational level, face to face. That way I can augment my hearing aids (which are dang good but not as good as 'normal' hearing) by reading lips, facial expression, body language and my best friend, context.
A few other things that do not help? Becoming impatient with me doesn't help. I cannot force my ears to work better (I have actually been told that I needed to try harder to hear before). And talking to me from another room will never Ever work. I might be able to tell that you are saying something, but I have not one single clue what it is. Honestly it's not ideal for even a person with normal hearing and definitely terrible for folks like me.
So I guess that's enough of that for today. Thanks for listening or reading I suppose. As for me, I made it a point on the way out to stop at the desk to make an appointment for a clearly enunciated hearing TEST in the spring.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.