On Being Able To Hear Again

Just a quick reflection on my newly functional hearing aid. (I have only one, in my left ear.) In case you missed it on my Facebook posting, I discovered that the speaker died, but it died so slowly over the year or so that I didn’t realize it (frog in the pot and all that). But now I have a new speaker and a whole new world of hearing has opened to me.

I hear things that I haven’t noticed for years, like walking down the street and hearing someone several houses away on the other side watering their garden. Or sitting next to the organ console at choir rehearsal Thursday evening and hearing the higher frequencies reflected back at me. It’s like getting new glasses and feeling like I can count every leaf and blade of grass.

But wait; there’s more. Not only do I hear new sounds, but also I have to learn how to hear all over again, and that is just fascinating. What?! Learn to hear again?! Absolutely. I’m hearing and noticing background noises that my brain has to learn to ignore all over again. Things like my hair brushing against the hearing aid receiver, or my clothes brushing against my body as I move around. When you scratch an itch, I’ll bet you hardly even notice what it sounds like. Right now, I often hear these scratches loud and clear.

These are the things people learn in very early childhood that can safely be ignored as we go about our daily business. I’ve not heard them in such a long time that my brain has forgotten the difference between background noise and serious sound, at least at the upper frequencies. It’s the buzzing part of the famous “booming, buzzing confusion”. And I now have a deeper appreciation of what people must have to go through who have been deaf for a long time and get a cochlear implant or who have been blind and suddenly can see again. So, as I said, it is fascinating.

There is a possible downside to all this, though. For a very long time, my right ear has been the stronger of the two, but now it is my left ear that is stronger. And the hearing in my right ear has degenerated down to borderline status so that I now have to decide whether to go ahead and get a hearing aid for that ear as well. I might have waited for a year or two, but I am so aware of the difference between the two ears that it is somewhere between annoying and distressing.

Some people would have no problem with this. Just get used to it, right? Well, the imbalance is driving me nuts. And given the reality that I will ultimately need to get one anyhow and that they will only get more expensive the longer I wait, I’ll probably take the plunge. On the other hand, though, if I do get a second hearing aid, then my hearing in both ears will be far better than it’s been in years. So maybe it’s not such a down side after all.

Not everything that has happened to me this week has been this exciting of course, but I’ve certainly enjoyed this part of the week. As I said, it’s been fascinating. Or so I have found it.

Oh, and if you are wondering about my next installment of reflections on prayer, just be patient. It’s coming in a few days.

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