Thursday, November 01, 2012

Adam's Off Ox

My children have always been wonderful about including me, as have their friends. So it came as a shock last weekend, when most of us gathered in my oldest daughter's Austin home, to realize they were all in a circle in the kitchen...and I sat at the far end of the huge granite kitchen island, clearly out of the loop. The few comments I tried to add to the conversation went unnoticed. I was isolated  amidst a sea of noise. With the grandchildren and TV in the background and the grown children all talking (they get louder with a drink or two) all I heard was a cacaphony of sounds that I could make no sense of. If I took my hearing aids out, I heard a faint rumble. I felt about as useless as Adam's off ox.
I think it's a circular problem. I have a hard time hearing, so I retreat to my book or my iPad. The children think, "Mom's reading her book or Facebook" and count me out. They think I'm not interested in their talk, not realizing how much I want to be part of it. I don't think this is my problem alone--hearing people don't realize the isolation of the hearing impaired.
I certainly don't want to demand that they all talk directly to me, but yet I want to be part of their conversations. It was, after all, a family gathering. I talked to Colin, the oldest, about it the next morning, and he said, "We'll figure something out." But I think the solution is up to me, and I'll begin by making an appointment with my audiologist. And then I think I'll make it a point at Thanksgiving to put my book aside and slide right into the middle of that circle.
But I have a plea for those of you who have a hearing-impaired family member--don't lose patience when they don't understand--a funny thing about hearing loss: sometimes I hear the words but they don't transmit to my brain as anything meaningful. And maybe go out of your way to see that they are in the conversation.
And don't choose noisy restaurants!
This is not a problem I ever expected to have. I have not flown in a lot of noisy planes nor listened to a lot of loud music--neithr is my style. I suspect, from things I've read, that my hearing loss traces back to a combination of hormones that I was given in the '90s. But that is neither here nor there--my hearing is getting worse, and I don't like it. It's up to me, no one else, to learn to deal with it. But, gosh, guys, I'd like a little help...and a lot of love.

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