Sounds Like It To Me . .
Vol: 22 Issue: 11 Wednesday, May 11, 2016
A guy gets a new hearing aid and is excitedly describing its features to a co-worker when the co-worker says, “That’s great! What kind is it?”
The other guy looks at his watch and says, “It’s about quarter to three.”
I got out of the Marine Corps in 1975 as a disabled veteran with five different compensable service-connected disability awards.
I was rated 10% disabled for one injury received, another 10% for a second injury, 10% for a service-connected medical condition, 10% for a second service-connected medical condition and 10% for service-connected hearing loss.
That was thirty-three years ago this coming November.
Yesterday, I was fitted with my first set of hearing aids.
I’d never considered wearing hearing aids before — I don’t like prosthetics — I am always losing my glasses, for example.
I put them on when I need to see something up close, or read any font smaller than 12 pts, but I take them off to keep from stubbing my toe on the coffee table or something.
I can’t even stand wearing jewelry. I don’t wear a watch, and only wear my wedding ring on ceremonial occasions or when I want to ‘dress up’.
Frankly, I never worried much about my hearing loss. I can hear most things, except those sounds that fall into a very narrow frequency range which corresponded nicely with the frequency range of my wife’s voice.
I used to wonder if it was Gayle who had the hearing problem. One night, I stood behind her chair and whispered, “Honey, can you hear me?”
No answer. I moved a bit closer and asked again, “Honey, can you hear me?” Still no response. I moved right behind her and asked her again: “Honey, can you hear me?”
This time, she answered me. “For the third time, yes, I hear you fine.”
Men’s voices are no problem, unless the voice is higher than normal, or abnormally soft-spoken. I can hear most of what is said on TV, unless the news anchor is a female.
And I can hear that too, if I turn up the volume a bit. But I began to suspect that the newer TVs won’t turn up as loud as the older models. My TV has this little volume bar that appears when you adjust the volume — I have to crank it to 70% to hear it.
But Gayle’s 86-year-old mother agreed with me that new TV’s aren’t as loud as the old ones, so I just figured Gayle must have exceptional hearing.
Then Gayle’s mom went for a hearing test and came home sporting a brand new hearing aid. Suddenly, the TV was loud enough for her at 20%.
If I wanted to hear what was going on, I had to go watch TV in another room where I could turn it up loud enough to hear it.
When Gayle’s mom came into the spare room and asked me to turn it down because it was drowning out her TV, I finally gave in and had my hearing tested.
I failed. (And I studied so hard, too.) The nice Doctor of Audiology (you can get a doctorate in hearing aids?? Who knew?) showed me a chart that looked a bit like a chart tracking oil prices over the past decade.
Where it peaked was the range that most women’s voices fall into. The doctor said I can’t hear that. (And she has a doctorate so she ought to know).
Not surprisingly, she recommended hearing aids. I told her I can’t wear them, I don’t like things in my ears.
But she insisted, and, (since she has a doctorate and everything, plus, I could only catch one word in five she was saying) I said I’d give it a try.
So we ordered the prosthetics and yesterday, they called me in for a ‘fitting’.
I don’t know what I was expecting — a megaphone sticking out each ear, I suppose — but I wasn’t expecting what I got. The little gizmos are each half the size of a peanut shell.
They sit just behind the ear, and have a tiny, virtually invisible tube that sits just inside the ear canal. I can’t even feel them.
But when the nice doctor of audiology turned them on, I wasn’t prepared for what would happen. I could hear the receptionist speaking on the phone in the next room.
(I could barely make out what she was saying when I first checked in and I was standing right in front of her.)
It was overwhelming, I found myself choking back tears of emotion. Although I could hear most sounds before, I had no idea how much I had been missing.
Our little Smart Car has a tiny diesel engine mounted in the rear of the car, (which is right behind the seat.) I never realized how loud that engine was until driving home from the hearing clinic.
I heard ticking sounds where previously, I could only hear muffled thuds.
I turned on the car radio and there was an old Stevie Nicks song playing. It was from the 80’s, and I’ve probably heard it a hundred times.
But there was this odd sound I’d never heard before — it took me several minutes before I realized it was an instrumental track I never knew was there.
And I could no longer hear the car engine drowning out the radio.
It seems there is some kind of automatic gizmo that sorts out sounds, identifies speech from background noise, and then dampens the background noise somehow while raising the level of the primary sounds, like music or speech.
I am a computer guy, and all of that, but nonetheless, it was amazing beyond words.
When the background is music rather than noise, it adjusts itself and turns down music when it detects speech.
When I got home, I didn’t say anything about the hearing aids to see if Gayle would notice them.
Until she said something.
Her voice was so clear I realized that I’d never really heard it before. I was so overwhelmed it made me weep — which spoiled the surprise.
I have spent the last day cataloging sounds I’ve not heard since I was in my late teens. I had NO idea.
I can hear my own footsteps. I heard this really loud, annoying sound behind me that I couldn’t quite identify. I turned around to see what it was — it was Gayle shuffling a pile of papers. (Who knew that paper shuffling was so loud?)
It has been a profound, emotional, almost spiritual experience. It was ‘spiritual’ in the sense that it put me in mind of what is yet to come.
Many of us have reached that stage in life where, had we felt this way on awakening thirty years ago, the first thing we’d have reached for is a telephone to dial 911.
Today, we just take two Aleve and wait for the aches and pains to subside. It’s what one gets used to — eventually it just becomes part of the ‘white noise’ of living out this earthly life.
Getting back my hearing, even by artificial means, reminded me that one day, not only will my hearing again be perfect, but so will my vision.
The aches and pains of life will be replaced by that glorious sense of well-being that 20-somethings take for granted and fifty-somethings (and beyond) have forgotten existed.
One day, we’ll each receive perfect bodies; ageless, incorruptible, fully functional and pain-free.
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1st Corinthians 15:51-54)
We fear death because the newness of life promised by Scripture is beyond our comprehension. I’ve a new perspective I didn’t have before.
What once was lost is now regained. And what modern science can approximate, the Lord Jesus will restore to perfection.
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1st Corinthians 15:55)
What a day that will be! I can’t imagine. But if it as sweet as the experience of really hearing my wife’s voice for the first time, it will be worth everything it took to get me there.
I have to go now. Praise the Lord, I hear my wife calling me.