A Matter of Perspective Part 1
Coping with Hearing Loss
“Why are you in such a bad mood?” Mom asked when I snapped at her shortly after coming in the door.
“I…just…” It wasn’t fair of me to take it out on her. I felt like I was going to lose it but tried to regain my composure. “Well, my hearing aids aren’t working!”
Trying not to think about the visit I just returned from, I stomped up the stairs and headed up to my flat over my mother’s house. “I hate it! I hate it! I. HATE. IT,” I shouted with each stomp. By the time I reached my room, the tears were running down my face. I slammed the door. The thought of spending the rest of my life saying, “Sorry, I didn’t hear you,” filled me with despair. I. couldn’t. DO. it. I couldn’t! More tears flowed. “It’s bad enough, God, I can’t see. Now this not hearing is worse than not seeing,” I said aloud. “Lord, why do I have both things wrong with me?”
The door slid open and I heard a soft but steady noise, the tapping of my mother’s cane against the floor as she slowly made her way over to me and stood next to my unmade bed. “What’s wrong?” Her voice sounded muffled. It took me a few seconds to sort through the sounds and figure out what she’d said.
“Mom, I just can’t cope. Or something…” My tears caught in my throat. “I can’t hear without my hearing aids. And even when I wear them, I can’t hear everything .”
If anyone were to understand, it would be my mother. At eighty-five, she wore even stronger hearing aids than me. They corrected less. She’d had her bad days, too.
“Mom, as I lose more hearing and more vision, I’m going to fade into oblivion!” I dragged a sheet across my bed, reached for the corners and lifted. The flowered sheet billowed in the air before settling on the mattress pad. I jerkily ran my hand over it to smooth the wrinkles. At eleven o’clock in the morning, it should have already been made. “I’ll just fade away!” I shouted, my voice breaking and dissolving into those messy kind of tears that bring on hiccups. I grabbed a bunch of tissues from the box. As they became soggy, I balled them up in my hand.
Right now I felt like I was sitting on the fence between two worlds. My biggest fear was that I’d sit on the periphery of life as my hearing and vision loss progressed. No, I wouldn’t literally fade away but would my soul disappear in the quiet, dark solitude? I shivered.
“Why don’t you call the hearing aid place?” Mom suggested.
Another delayed silence as I sought to understand her words. But when I got it, I belted out my response. “I did, three times! No one has called me back.” I had called three times, in quick succession–which didn’t really count. My conscientious audiologist, who serviced my hearing aids was was likely in a meeting or with a client.
I finished straightening a light blanket and tossed the blue comforter onto the bed. With determined movements, I made short work of it and fluffed up my pillow, then sat down. I looked at Mom and talked about the visit to Carolyn, my sister’s house. Carolyn was suffering from Leukemia, in the advanced stage. My sister and I were close. I greatly looked up to her.
How could I set her off when she was so ill?
“Mom, she said, ‘That’s not very nice to pretend to hear when you don’t.'”
My shoulders drooped, remembering the confrontation and how I responded with a tight, ‘It’s embarrassing.'”
“The acoustics aren’t good there,” Mom admitted.
I strained to hear. Something about good sticks in the air? I puzzled it out, running my hand over my ear, willing it to hear better.
Mom repeated herself.
Oh! Acoustics. What about acoustics? It’s in the air? Huh? Not good air. Got it! I think.
“I just can’t say, ‘I didn’t hear you. Be-be-because…” I blubbered, “when the person repeats it, chances are I won’t hear it the second time either! I hate my hearing. I hate being like this. I can’t admit it…to anyone. Pretending is just my default.” I took in a ragged breath and blew my nose hard.
There. I said it.
My mother sighed and raised her voice. “Usually, you don’t let it get you down.”
I didn’t want to say ‘I hate it,’ one more time. Others, like my sister had much worse to cope with than me.
Perspective. It was a matter of perspective.
It was time to finish this little tantrum. I was a grown woman, not a child. I blew my nose one last time. “I’ll do it, Mom. I’ll start being like you and asking people to repeat themselves.” I hoped I could do it. I wanted to do it. It would take effort. But I could do anything with God’s help.
Lord, give me strength. Help me to change. Help me to be honest.
Who listens to you when you reach the end of your rope and feel you can’t cope for another moment? How well does he or she understand your problem? Share in the Comments below.
You have just read “It’s a Matter of Perspective: Part 1” by Amy L. Bovaird. Copyright September 15, 2014.