A few years ago, I realized that the number of times I misheard what someone was saying to me outweighed the number of times I got it right. Or that the knowing nods and smiles I would display when my daughters talked to me were clearly signs of not hearing a word they were saying (especially because I was nodding and smiling while they were saying, “you don’t hear a word right now, do you?”). After a while, it got annoying. For me. And for everyone around me.
So, I visited Dr. Leah Ball at Richmond Hearing Doctors and found out that yes indeed, I had a significant hearing loss at a certain level. (Don’t ask me for too many details … all I know is, I can’t hear my husband talking to me when we’re in the same room, but I can hear someone talking about me from miles away. Amazing!)
Dr. Ball fitted my impossibly difficult ears with impossibly small hearing aids, and it was incredible – who knew RAIN was SO LOUD??? And can you please not accost me with that thundering aluminum foil?
At the time, I was nervous and embarrassed about transitioning from being a “young” person who doesn’t require those things my grandfather wore, to someone who was now officially “old.” And for all the BOTOX and injections that could hide wrinkles, there wasn’t a thing I could do to hide those little plastic things on my ears.
I hated them so much at first that I would take them out all the time. One day, I forgot I had removed them … and I lost them. Thousands of dollars lost because of vanity. I went back to Dr. Ball, ordered a new pair, and embraced a new attitude.
While aging is one of the most common causes of hearing damage, chronic exposure to loud noises is a big cause also. And let me tell you, l have enjoyed some very loud noises in my life!
I vividly remember the joy I felt the first time my dad took me to shoot pistols. I must have been about 10. There were no headphones – but there was a lot of happiness and pride at being with my father and doing something so “grown up.”
I am delighted by every song I blared on the radio and every REALLY LOUD concert I’ve ever attended, from the Beach Boys asking me, “Do You Wanna Dance?” to Bruce Springsteen loudly and emphatically telling me “Someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny,” …
… to my 50th birthday gift of “Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp” where my bandmates (including Spencer Davis, Dickie Betts, Jon Anderson, Randy Ryder, Fred Dawson, and the entire horn section from Late Night with David Letterman) played gloriously loudly – and it was the best time of my life!
And I’m thrilled by every July 4th fireworks display I’ve ever seen, sitting in the grass with the people I love, anticipating that loud “boom” and not wanting to spoil a minute of it covering my ears.
My hearing aids are a badge of honor that represent all of the joyous “CHRONIC exposure to loud noises” that made up my life. They remind me of experiences that I wouldn’t trade for all the world. Certainly not for vanity. But most of all, they are the promise of enjoying all of the sounds still heading my way.