Friday, May 31, 2013

My "Fix"

Like a drug addict I stand fidgeting outside the audiologists office.  An unreasonable fear of doing too well on my hearing test begins to overwhelm me.  Irrational thoughts fill my mind like: Will she think I'm faking?  Will she send me home as if nothing is wrong?  I ponder how I would feel leaving without any type of volume increase.  Probably a bit shaky and on edge.  Belligerent also comes to mind.  I think I would be very defensive as I know that there is change happening and I feel like it needs to be acknowledged.

To put it simply I needed a "fix".

Though no track marks line my arms the need for a tune up was very powerful because I know as soon as they are turned up I hear and feel normal.

In fact, a honeymoon phase begins as soon as I leave the office after an adjustment.  One where I pretend that none of this ever happened.  It is a point of escape.  Much like alcohol or drugs allowing my rational mind to take a back seat to something I know isn't real.  Usually, this surreal period fades within a week because by that time my mind compensates and adjusts to the louder volume leaving things sounding muted once again.

I am not sure what caused this revelation.  But it is for this very reason that I have skipped my last three hearing tests.

Until today.

Now as I wait uncomfortable in my own skin I see a cloudy image of me realizing that no artificial aid is going to restore my hearing 100%.  This is the fact that I have yet to come to terms with.

And despite understanding this concept I have been unwilling to accept it.

It may just be completely unreasonable to feel as if I cannot hear well and therefore run to the doctors office seeking an increase.

True reality is that the "fix" I need doesn't exist.

I will never again have perfect hearing.  It isn't the same as a pair of glasses that restores your sight in full.  No, this is only something that makes what I had before better.

Only better.  Not perfect.  Not 100%.  Only better.

I will never again have perfect hearing.

The answer then to my heal my hidden track marks is to accept this imperfection.  I hope that is something I can do.

It surely isn't what we teach in this world.  We are always striving for perfection sometimes missing the beautiful in the imperfection for the sake of image and appearance.

Don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with wanting to better ourselves in almost any area of our life.  The problem lies within the obsession that almost inevitably follows.  Where the quest to be the best takes hold on our life and allows for nothing else to be entertained.

Every single one of us has a track mark of some kind because this life is hard.

I believe what truly defines a person is how they choose to deal with those scars.  Do you embrace them and move forward or do you spend all of your time trying to cover them up so others do not see.

We can't wrap up our lives in a neat and tidy box.

I will never again have perfect hearing.   Scar revealed.  Box disheveled.  Imperfection reflected.  Life moving forward. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

"Caption This"

"Caption this."

You know what I am referring to right?  It's the contest that the news stations use to engage their viewers where they take awkward pictures of any type of celebrity and ask people to come up with the most witty thing to surmise.  Admittedly I laugh and enjoy these tidbits allowing them to lighten the mood amongst stories of tragedy and plight.

Sometimes it is when a celebrity takes a photo of their own child or dog and they ask their fans to comment, once again looking for the most interesting answer.  I like these a bit less as it seems an almost self serving way to get praise or chatter on their news feed.  I do however enjoy the tiny glimpse into their normal everyday life. 

To me  "Caption this"  is now something I wish I could employ whenever necessary.  I want a "Caption this"  button like the "Easy" button from that one office store.  If I had said button, so many things in my life would be less complicated and I would have a much better sense of what was going on around me. 

You see, I feel myself started to get a bit frustrated with having to say:

I can't really hear you.
Remember, I can't hear that well.
Can you please stand still when you are talking to me?
What did she/he just say?
I can't hear the TV can you turn it up?
Can you turn it up some more?
I'm sorry but I just don't know what you are saying.

I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry....

With my magical "Caption this" button my eight year old could continue with his dance interpretation and still carry on a conversation with his mom.  My employees would be able to wait on customers while simultaneously relay information to their boss.  Friends and family could relax and enjoy a conversation instead of missing out on tidbits that occur while they repeat previously spoken information to me.  And my husband, my dear husband could rest and watch a TV show without his wife pestering him about what was being said.

"Caption this"  may be arriving on my television screen much sooner than I expected.  At least there I have the option unlike everyday life. 

I know what you are thinking...go back to your Audiologist.  But I don't want to.  Why get another hearing test when she will once again say that it has changed only slightly and then turn up my hearing aids.  I feel just as annoying to them as I do to everyone else.  And there is something maddening about being told your hearing change is little when it affects so many areas of your life.  I think I would actually be happier leaving if they said that yes it was a significant change.  Maybe then I wouldn't feel so damn crazy sometimes. 

So after a wonderful vacation that went flawlessly, as my hearing was concerned, things started to go down hill pretty progressively.  At least to me, Chris and Carter. 

Here are just a few of the highlights.

Personally I have noticed that as soon as someone speaks immediately my brain begins to decipher what they are saying.  I can actually feel myself trying to understand what sometimes is pure garble that comes out of peoples mouths.  If I hear one or two words instantly context begins to form and a lot of assumptions on my part materialize.  Eventually I either catch up or I don't.  In the case where I do follow along I probably only really know 3/4ths of what was actually spoken.  Everything else is composed of what my mind thinks is happening.  If I simply lose the conversation completely I am left with no choice but to ask them to repeat, rephrase or begin again.  It's that or make no comment and move on.  In a group setting that works well but not so much when your son is talking to you about his day at school.

This has gotten so bad that in real life and on TV sometimes sentences start out as a foreign language to me.  Imagine if you will someone speaking in Japanese and English mixed.  This is exactly how the conversations start out.

Upon the first day of our return from vacation I was out back talking to a friend of mine and letting our two boys play on the playground.  Chris was inside and Carter was out front with a bunch of neighborhood kids.  At one point my friend said, "Oh sounds like someone got hurt."  I turned my ear towards the front of my house but didn't hear much of anything sort of shrugged my shoulders and thought if it was Carter he would come get me or Chris would bring him out.  It wasn't until I was getting Carter ready for bed that I saw his mangled leg.  Chris looked at me surprised when I asked what had happened.  "You didn't hear him screaming at the top of his lungs today?"  What do you say to that?  What can you say to that?  No, I couldn't hear my son from the front of the house to the back nor could I hear him while inside the house through open windows.   

At my job a customer had a concern about their order and while I was making food which has me standing on the other side of a counter with TV's and loud chatter in the dining room I simply did not get what they were saying.  Since there was an obvious hurdle for me I turned to the closest employee for interpretation.  After hearing them out and then once again turning to the customer I did obtain most of the needed information however by the look on her face I could tell she thought I was acting as if her issue was not important.  Unfortunately it was quite the contrary and in a customer driven business this is not the type of impression I want to leave them with. 

To ease the burdeon When I am on the job occasionally I will tell people I have trouble hearing but so far I am not comfortable using hard of hearing.  I don't really know why.

Finally, I have a very hard time deciphering where a sound is coming from.  If it is not verbal it can take me several minutes to ascertain whether it is on my right or left side, in the same room or a different one,  upstairs or downstairs.  If it is a noise I don't like or I am concerned about I must move around until I actually figure out what it is. 

I really hate it when this happens as I feel so ditsy or somehow unaware.   

"Caption this"  Oh if only it were that simple.  Where everyone's words came out in cute little font.  I know I am not the first person to wish for this nor will I be the last. 

Unfortunately there is not much I can do other than continue to turn my hearing aids up.  Although I  have begun to make a conscious effort to train myself to be more aware and rely less on my  hearing for things that are going on.  Seems like it will help me out in the long run but the retraining is quite a daunting process.
I also need to work on the re-education of my family. 

There are a few things that others can do to help.  I need to be better about educating those closest to me, Carter especially.  Because if Chris would not have been home when he fell then knowing my limitations one of his friends should have been sent to get me.   I also need people to understand that if I don't respond then I probably don't think you are talking to me because it is something I cannot hear and I have lost the ability to tell which direction sound is coming from.  Unless I can see you I do not know who you are talking too.  And finally loud talking is almost worse.  Volume alone is not the problem with my hearing it is pitch and tone that are affected more and along with it inflection.  So as some mistakenly talk louder I really just need it said in a different way or slower. 

I even wish I had a "Caption this" button for myself. 

Mine would read:  Hard of hearing and trying to adjust!

We all have something we are working on or struggling with.  What would your "Caption this"  button say?