As you might have guessed, I’ve been very happy with my hearing devices and the world they’ve opened up to me. It’s been an adventure on so many levels. However, unintended consequences have revealed themselves, too.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know how much I love music and my iPod. I work best when I have music in the background, which, unfortunately, is not often possible for me at work unless I wear earphones. That presents the first problem: my ears are scarcely big enough to accommodate both an ear bud and a hearing device, so sometimes I have to choose. Same with the Bluetooth headset: either I can remove the device and just wear the earpiece, or I can try to put them both in and hope for the best.
The next, and by far the biggest, byproduct of my newly-improved hearing is the constant and annoying onslaught of noises I never heard before. Sometimes my life sounds more like a battlefield, a nightclub, or the trading floor of the NYSE – seriously. Everything makes noise, I swear! Who knew?
It may seem ironic that while I have serious hearing loss, I also have extreme, sometimes excruciating sensitivity to certain environmental sounds. I clutch my head in distress while noise rattles and echoes inside it. I can hear people now, and that makes me wonder if their very (gum-chewing, pen-clicking, coughing, yawning, sniffling, eating, throat-clearing, typing, knuckle-cracking, nail-clipping) existence is designed to drive me insane. Admittedly, it’s not a long trip, but still… The Lord teaches us patience by putting irritants in our paths; witness the pearl. Ladies and gents, I am no pearl. But I’m working on it. Ahem.
I don’t like to complain; hearing is precious, especially to those of us who need devices, and I am grateful for my hearing aids. But living with hearing loss lulled me into complacency; I didn’t hear a lot of the bustle and clatter of everyday life. It was easier to tune out the world when I couldn’t hear it very well. I spent a lot of time lost in my own thoughts. When I got my hearing aids, I felt like Dorothy opening the door and stepping from black and white into Technicolor. All of a sudden, things were clearer and brighter (and louder), and now I was lost in the cacophony. Clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk!
Sometimes I’d like to go back. There are times when I so crave peace and quiet that I remove the miracle devices from my ears and I can almost feel my blood pressure sink. The racket symphony of life drops to pianissimo; voices slip back to the murky depths, and I can once again pretend that I’m Dorothy, back in Kansas: it may be dull, but at least they know me there.