Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hearing Aid Day

Hearing aid day was a work day for me and I was happy about that.  I no longer wanted to focus on what was about to happen.  Instead, I knew that throwing myself into my work would push thoughts and fears away allowing me to feel normal.. 

By all accounts it was a typical day at work.  I had some hearing issues on the line and a few on the phone but I was making it through.  With each instance I became excited about my hearing aids actually happy at the prospect of being able to hear better.  When I was successful at blocking out the thoughts about how they might make me feel and how others would look at me the benefit really was attractive. 

After the lunch rush was over and things slowed down three deaf customers came in.

I noticed them instantly and felt a kindred spirit that prodded me to watch and learn.  To order they would indicate the number of meal they wanted by displaying it on their fingers.  After that my cashier attempted to ask them if they wanted white or wheat bread.  This was a futile attempt and they asked for paper.  Because I was standing there I signed the spelling of the word white and immediately he made the sign language motion for it.  I repeated it to him and shook my head yes.  Then I held up the bags of bread and let him choose.  We then did the same for the other two.  One of the men asked for no mustard.  He signed the word to me and I was happy I understood. 

In our store we take names and deliver food to tables.  In this case we always describe the people so that by the time the food is made they know who it belongs too and that they are not screaming out someones name to people who cannot hear.  It is an awkward process and in this case and on this day it felt even more cumbersome. 

When they went to sit down I immediately taught my cashier how to ask if they wanted white bread and told him to pass it on to all the cashiers.  I wished I knew more sign language so that I could have conversed with them more.  I watched them as I worked and to an untrained eye their motions seemed so sporadic.  I had no clue what they might be saying.  One of them laughed loudly, very loudly and other customers were startled.  I looked on and smiled lovingly at them and felt as if I wanted to protect them from the glances they were receiving.  Leave them alone my mind was yelling at the other guests.  But I had no room to judge - no box to stand on as I wondered to myself what will I do, how will I cope.  Am I going to be like them one day?  I admired them that day and appreciated their struggle in a whole new light. 

As I left the store and headed to my appointment I once again felt a very strong gripping fear.  No knowing what lay ahead was hard and the only thing that dissipates that is usually answers.  I wasn't sure if I would ever be getting any of those but I had hope. 

At the appointment the first thing she did was put the hearing aids on.  They were very light and felt comfortable.  I hardly noticed they were there until she spoke.  WHOA!  She sounded like she was talking to me through a microphone - all pingy and twangy and loud.  She told me that was normal and that very quickly my mind would adjust.  She was right - as half way through the hour I felt she was speaking pretty normal. 

The hearing aids are controlled by a computer.  I got to see my hearing represented on the screen.  It was in beige and the help the hearing aid was giving me was in red for one ear and blue for the other.  It pretty much validated and confirmed my testing from the week before.  In the high pitch areas the hearing aid was working its butt off while the low pitches were relatively stable.  She then said - lets quit talking and allow the noise of the room to go away and see your baseline.  I don't know how to describe that without a picture - and so I may draw one and insert it here.  In the absence of that photo though the bottom line was this:  My lower hearing still had towers representing natural sound getting in and my higher hearing was gone...completely not on the chart.  I have to say - I did not like that picture but I understood it as the demonstration went on and I was able to hear sounds I had not heard in quite awhile. 

These things really are amazing.  Expensive...but amazing.  I thanked God right then for giving me the means to leave the Dr.'s office with them in that very day.  And so armed with my new hardware I headed home. 

This was what I wrote when I got near my house:

So here I sit 50 feet from my home my kids are waiting there with my parents.  I am anxious to see them but afraid to move.  I have the hearing aids on and I feel different.  My gut hurts and I am afraid.  Up ahead I see Carter running down the street with his friend.  I start the car moving and honk to get his attention.  "Mommy!"  He yells and runs to my side of the car.  I get out and he gives me the biggest hug.  I'm home now I say to which he replies a yelling "OK" as he runs off into his friends house.  He didn't even notice them. 

He didn't even notice. 

I'm going to be ok.

And I was ok.  Later when Chris first saw me he said, "Let me see those sexy things."  I remember smiling very timidly and turning my head while thinking that he always knows what to say.  I took them out and showed him how they worked.  It was a different type of intimate moment between us, one that I will remember always.