For several years now I’ve been dithering about whether to get hearing aids. Pros: They might enable me to hear. Cons: They’re expensive. Not everyone can bear to wear them. And it makes my daughter cry when I mention the possibility (“You’ll look so old!” she wails).
But now that I’m spending more time at home and conversing more with Other, who is also hard of hearing, I’m edging closer to making the big decision to spend the damn money.
Though having to repeat everything I say to Other, and asking him to repeat everything he says to me, is a factor, it’s the little things that are firming my resolve. Someone who recently bought hearing aids told me she was startled the other day to hear the sound of her own pee tinkling into the toilet. It had been years since she’d heard it. Funny thing, I often can’t tell if I’ve finished peeing unless I look.
Then there’s the eavesdropping issue. A friend once told me that everything she knew about her daughter came from listening to her daughter and her friends talking in the back seat of her SUV. I was clueless as a mother. First of all, I don’t have an SUV. Second, I can’t hear anything with the back of my head. I need my eyes to hear. Like most hard-of-hearing people, I rely on lip reading, something that’s not always possible to do discreetly.
It’s not just critical information about my children’s lives I’ve missed. I’ve also missed learning about the lives of strangers. These days, people tell their most intimate secrets into their cell phones on the street. Every once in a while, I catch a fascinating glimpse of what I’m missing. I know everyone else wants people to stop talking on their cell phones. I want them to keep talking—but a bit louder, please.
As someone who feels on fire in a wool sweater, whose eyes run if someone within 50 yards is wearing perfume, who can’t bear the feeling of a hat pressing on my forehead, what are the chances I’ll be able to tolerate something stuck in my ear 12 hours a day? It’s a $5,000 crapshoot. But I think I'm ready to take a shot.