In Between Days
Before I lost all of my hearing, Dave and I had pretty similar degrees of hearing loss. There were a few differences – I always preferred bass and hated high-pitched sounds; Dave thinks bass sounds terrible and it really bothers him. But in general, if there was something I could hear, he could hear it too.
Now with my CIs, I keep assuming he can hear what I hear. It’s really hard to get used to the fact that at times, he can hear 100% better than me (when I have my ‘ears’ off) and other times, I hear things that he doesn’t.
We’ve been taking walks in the morning and the cicadas are out in full force. When we walk out the door, the sound just assaults me – it’s really, really loud. I’ll stop, cock my head and say to Dave, “Do you hear that?” and he’ll look at me like I’m crazy. He just totally doesn’t hear it. Then I’ll say, “It’s so loud! Turn up your hearing aid.” So he goes along with it, turns up his hearing aid…nah, nothing. It’s just out of his range of hearing — that really high-pitched sound they make.
It was hard for me to believe he couldn’t hear it because that’s just not an experience we’ve had…I could always relate to what he could and couldn’t hear. Now I’m learning to just accept it and not think he can still hear something if he turns up his hearing aid. (How annoying I must have been – to his credit, he’s always been a good sport about it and never seemed irritated. Sorry, honey!)
Actually, Dave’s hearing has been worse lately and it was a little scary last week. I heard him clicking his tongue and snapping his fingers, the typical thing he does to test the volume of his hearing aid. He’d look puzzled, take off his hearing aid, check the volume. Finally he admitted he could barely hear. I suggested cleaning his ear, in case there was some ear wax build-up. It felt very familiar – exactly what I was doing when I lost my hearing two years ago. Ear wax turned out not to be the problem, and finally he switched hearing aids. He tried on one of his back-up aids and that worked, although the sound quality wasn’t as great as what he had been used to. It looks like his newest hearing aid has failed, so he has an appointment in a week and a half at the VA hospital audiology dept. What a relief that it was his hearing aid and not his actual hearing!
Funny thing though, Dave isn’t as concerned about hearing as I am. It really didn’t even faze him to think he might be losing most of his hearing. He will still get up and wander around the house without his hearing aid on, whereas the first thing I do is put my CIs on. When he’s reading, he’ll take out his hearing aid; it would never occur to me to do that. Maybe it’s a mom thing – I feel like I need to hear my best all the time, even though my youngest is almost 16 and it’s not like she’s going to be crying in her crib and I won’t hear her. (!) Just a habit I find hard to break, I guess.
I do find myself periodically spending huge chunks of time without my CIs on now, though, because I stopped using a blow dryer and have been air-drying my curly hair. It can take hours to dry so there are some days I don’t put my ‘ears’ on until early afternoon. I actually don’t mind it – my speech reading skills haven’t suffered since I got my CIs, so I can still follow conversations just fine.
Coming up on two years since I got my CIs activated: August 20th. I was telling my son the other day that certain exercises are hard to do with CIs, things like sit-ups and jumping jacks. I either have to wear headbands to try to hold the processors and magnets on my head, or I have to take them off entirely. So after I finished telling him the things I couldn’t do, he said, “Yea, but you know what you can do? You can hear.”