“Did you know that approximately one-third of all folks your age suffers from hearing loss?”
Okay, before you jump on me for being insensitive to those who are hearing impaired, I am one of that one in three.
I also suffer from Tinnitus, which is described as a non-stop ringing in the ears. For me, it’s not a ringing; rather I live in my own private wind storm; there’s a constant hiss that serves as the soundtrack of my life. At times it’s a whisper, sometimes it’s a gale, yet it’s unrelenting. Most likely it’s the result of being a rock ‘n’ roll disc jockey from my teens into my thirties. Regrettably, it matters not how I contracted it, it makes itself known from the moment I rise until I fall asleep.
I thought that the unending whisper that accompanied me 24/7 was normal until I heard a public service announcement about it, raising my consciousness to its existence. Turning to my wife, I asked, “What do you hear when it’s silent?”
She looked at me as if I had two noses, perplexed,
“What do you mean, what do I hear when it’s silent? It’s silent. I don’t hear anything.”
“You don’t hear a hiss?”
“No, I don’t hear anything.”
Henceforth, I realized this was not the norm and began pursuing options to rid myself of it.
Although one will see ads for cures on social media and some experts claim that everything from Paxil to microdoses of LSD will alleviate the problem, there is no cure except patience and habituation, just getting used to it.
Once I became aware of my hearing issues, I also realized that I had to turn up the television to a deafening level, needed closed captions to follow the dialog, and annoyed the hell out of my life-partner by repeatedly asking her to speak up. Although vanity delayed me from seeking help, I finally decided that hearing better beat out the need to deny my aging and I was fitted for hearing aids.
They’re not your grandfather’s hearing aids.
I mean I didn’t think I’d need a megaphonic cone with the narrow end in my ear, but I remember hearing aids as being bulky, intrusive, ugly, and the definitive mark of being “old.”
They’re not. If you didn’t know I had them on, you’d not see them. They’re light, match my hair, and – because I’m “fortunate” to have ears that would make Dumbo proud – they hide well. They also come with Bluetooth to connect them to my phone and control their volume and range of frequencies via an app. Should I find myself in a noisy, crowded, packed environment (yeah, that’s not happening until the pandemic ends), I can adjust the sensitivity. If I’m listening to music, I can modify the parameters for that. There are multiple options.
Since it’s an app, it of course has bugs; one of which is whenever I move the phone in a certain fashion, it takes it as a cue to go silent for ten seconds while it resets. I don’t know why; it just does it. As I said, I think it’s a bug.
To the point, I was watching TV, the sound streaming direct to my hearing aids via a connector and the app; when I made the miscalculation of moving my phone during a particularly dramatic section of the show. Of course, the app doesn’t care how much excitement is on screen, it took it as a cue to go dark, forcing me to miss several seconds of important plot points.
Being “old,” I get cranky. I laid into the app with a few choice expletives (which of course I could not hear), lamenting the designers of the app, the makers of Bluetooth, and even Tim Cook for allowing such faulty electronics to be sold. I complained out loud to no one in particular about lousy workmanship, poor customer service, and the general state of the world — all because I had to reset an app.
Then, perspective making itself as known as the hiss between my ears, I realized what I was doing and started to laugh.
“Really?” Thought I. “You have this marvel of technology that has brought back music, voice, clarity, and understanding into your world – and you’re going to go all cranky over a ten-second lag that requires you to slide your fingertip up your phone’s screen? Privileged much?”
Alas, ‘tis true. When I was a kid (something old folks get to say), hearing aids consisted of saying, “Speak up!” Today, I have virtually complete control over what I hear by simply touching a screen – and that’s not enough?
No one told me I needed to get over myself – but should they be so inclined, I would have clearly been able to hear them (after a ten-second lag of course).
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and founder of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, where he can be contacted for coaching, consulting, and presentations. During this social distancing period, he is conducting monthly on-line workshops on setting goals and getting past what holds you back. You can find out more at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com/intentions