An end to “Say that again?”

Last year I noticed, at some point, that I was asking students to repeat themselves more often than I used to. I started to think about it, and I realized I also was asking my wife what characters in shows/movies said more often than I had before, and running things back more often. So I went and got my hearing checked.

The verdict was that I have “mild to moderate” loss in both ears, with the left ear having more loss. I have an appointment upcoming (in December!) to see if we can figure out why it’s different, but it was recommended I get hearing aids. So I did.

I won’t lie; I feel very weird about this. My grandfather needed them, so I figured the odds were I’d need them someday, but I thought that would be when I was in my 70s or 80s, not my early 50s. I mean, I just turned 52! So there’s a little bit of “Getting old sucks” in there. I know lots of people need hearing aids when they’re young, too. I just never expected to be one of them.

I just got them today, and I’m told it will take my brain about six weeks to completely accept the new sound inputs as normal. The biggest change is to my own voice–I’m hearing it now through an external device at the same time I’m hearing it through my own skull, and it’s weird. To help me out, the tech programmed my devices to begin at only 80% assistance, and over the next three weeks they will ramp up to 100%. In two weeks I’ll go back and see if they need any adjustments.

I am noticing sounds I didn’t hear before–mostly paper crinkling, fans whirring, etc. As the devices ramp to full power (I’m not the only one hearing Mr. Scott say “Full power, now sir!” am I?), I’m sure it will get better. And I’m sure some of my returning students will be pleased I’ll better hear them this year.

Reading glasses, hearing aids… next will be a knee replacement. I mean, the right one’s been pissing me off for 32 years, we’ll see how long it lasts.

Published by Michael R. Johnston

Father of an eighth grader, high school English teacher, writer. Fifty years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA

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