Many of my readers know that I have a severe hearing loss. I have worn hearing aids for thirty two years. Though they are not perfect, they allow me to interact in society, teach classes and communicate in general. By the time I went to the doctor to express my concerns about my hearing, I had lost fifty percent of my hearing. Now it is somewhere around eight-five percent. Luckily, somewhere along the line I learned to lip read. If I could not lip read, I could not hear you. The aids now help me hear, but I rely on lip reading.
This morning I was out getting some firewood from the woodshed across my patio from my backdoor. There are woods bordering my patio on two sides. The morning sun was shining (yes, it was shining!) through the trees and the birds were singing. Some of the trills are ones we hear only in the springtime as they are their mating calls. I thrill at the sound of their trills.
I am able to hear some birdcalls without my hearing aids as they are high frequency notes. I can even hear dog whistles. My hearing loss is unique in that it is low frequency hearing loss, the reverse slope hearing loss, as it is called by doctors and technicians. So the high bird notes I can hear. Most people experience some hearing loss in their lifetimes, but it is almost always high frequency, the high notes. High frequency hearing loss causes you to miss the consonants, b, c, d, f, etc. Low frequency hearing loss cause you to lose the vowels, a, e, i, o, and u. Someone with low frequency hearing loss will go a lot longer before they realize they have hearing loss, thus the reason why I didn’t realize it until I had lost fifty percent.
Wel,l back to the birds. The day I was fitted with my first hearing aids was a wonderful day, better than the first day I got glasses. The world was very clear, the sound world, that is. It was “bright” with sound. I could hear the car’s engine running for the first time in a long time. I could hear my husband speak in the car. When I got home, I went out to pull weeds in the garden and I could hear the birds for the first time in a long time, a LOT of birds. Wow! I kept working and I turned up the volume just a little and I could hear even more birds. I guess I did that several times and the world was chirping around me. I worked in the sunshine, pulling weeds, with a big smile on my face.
I am working along enjoying myself when all of a sudden my husband comes out and asks me if I would like a cup of tea. Yow, it was a blast out. I guess I had continued to turn up the hearing aids and I was probably listening to birds in the next block. When he stood behind me and asked me about tea, I thought he was using a bull horn to speak right next to my ear.
I learned a lesson that day. Be careful when you turn them up. Now some of the more modern aids do not have volume controls. They are set to your needs and seek out sounds for you to hear. The ones I have currently are seven or eight years old and will need to be replaced sometime soon. Each new pair is like learning all over again. Technology changes so fast that they are a whole new system each time I purchase them. I am, however, getting to the point where there will no longer be aids that will help me. They will be able to amplify, but probably not to the point where I will be able to understand.
A friend of mine came to this point in her life and she has since moved on to a cochlear implant which is the insertion of a coil inside the ear to do the listening for you. Not something I about which I want to think, but if it keeps me from becoming a recluse, then so be it. I am not sure my type of loss even qualifies for such a device.
But in the meantime, I cherish every moment I can hear the birds sing!