LOOK VERY CLOSELY. DO YOU SEE ME IN HERE?
RIGHT . . . YOU WON’T!
I have had my hearing aids almost seven months now. I’m happy with them most of the time. When I bought them seven months ago, I was really excited to be able to hear sounds like my kids playing, my wife’s kiss, my cats meowing, and the phone ringing. But, even with hearing aids, I still struggle. It feels like it takes me 100 times more effort than a hearing person to get through a day.
The people I speak with have no idea how much effort it takes me to listen to them, to concentrate on each word and make sure I understand what they are saying before I respond. I find myself either putting my foot in my mouth or asking a lot of questions, which can be frustrating to everyone. I have high quality ReSound hearing aids and assistive technology but even they have their limitations. I don’t regret having hearing aids, but people seem to think that with them my hearing is back to normal. My first method of understanding what people are saying is lipreading and watching body language, then I call upon my hearing aids. It doesn’t work the other way around - most hearing people don’t understand that. I have to read lips, use my hearing aids to listen to sound, and draw upon all my learned skills during the day, whereas a hearing person just has to listen. Hearing aids are not like corrective lenses - you don’t get “20/20” hearing. Sorry, but the technology is not there yet.
There are some nights after working an eight to nine hour day taking multiple phone calls, that I can’t wait to get in the the car and pull out my hearing aids so that I can enjoy the World of Silence the rest of the evening. I guess I need to lower my own expectations. I want to make my wife, my kids, myself, my company, and parents proud, but given how new I am at being deaf I need to re-examine my expectations and clearly communicate my boundaries. It will take time to adjust to being deaf after 41 years of hearing, and it will take time to adjust not only to using hearing aids and communication devices, but also to compensating for their limitations.
My name is Jeff Swartz and I live in Atlanta, GA. I am married to wonderful wife and have two teenaged daughter.