A contributed perspectives piece by Joe Laughland
My wife and I have been married for so long that we can finish each other’s sentences. We also speak in brief, broken phrases knowing that the other person knows what we’re talking about.
But now, we have a problem. Sometimes we don’t hear the beginning sentence clear enough. We keep replying, “What did you say?” Or I assume that she’s asking about the car when in fact, she’s asking about lunch. It’s becoming irritating having to repeat, again and again.
So one day, after a hearing test, my wife bought tiny hearing aids that hide behind her ears with thin clear wires attached to a plug that fits into her ear canals. Problem solved. Right?
Well, not really. Now we have a volume problem between what she hears and what I hear. For example, prior to the hearing aid, when we’d watch TV, she liked the volume at 18. I liked the volume at 20, just slightly higher. But now, she can listen at volume 10. I can’t hear the TV at 10. If I want to watch a noisy war, spy, or sci-fi movie, I have to wait until my wife goes shopping.
Sometimes I use headphones to listen to the TV’s audio. However, many times she has something important to tell me and has to stand between the TV and me to get my attention. That usually happens at the peak of the TV show’s action. ugh.
We have the same problem when listening to the car radio. I’m driving the car, I can’t recognize the song that’s playing. I have to wait for a stop light to hear the song.
When I cough, she screams, “Stop your coughing!” because her hearing aid amplifies my coughing at the decibel range of a nuclear explosion. So now I have to bury my mouth deep into my elbow when I cough or jump into the closet for a quick cough.
When she talks to me, she now talks in a lower volume because her own speech is amplified. I’m constantly asking, “What did you say?”
Obviously, her hearing aids don’t aid me. When my hearing gets so bad that I’ll need hearing aids, then we’ll hear at the same volume. But by then, we’ll have nothing to say to each other . . .
Joe Laughland, a retired management analyst, moved to Harrisonburg in 2010. He is a member of JMU’s Lifelong Learning Institute’s Writers Group.