Saturday, February 23, 2013

"Do You Hear What I Hear?"

I am deaf.  The Big Guy is deaf. Communication is lots of fun at our house!

Well, okay, neither of us is completely deaf, but we both have real hearing loss. It is frustrating to us and it is annoying to other people.  Some people have no patience with our problem and are constantly suggesting that maybe it's time we get hearing aids. Neither Mikey nor I feel that we have reached a point where we think it's time to go the hearing aid route.  For both of us it is not really that we can't hear others speaking to us, it's that we sometimes cannot distinguish what is being said!  It is particularly bad when we are out in a public place.  There is so much background noise!  Not only that but most people talk very fast, they speak softly, they do not face you when speaking, and truth be told, they just flat out mumble!  When that all happens at the same time, neither Mikey nor I have a prayer of being able to get it all!

Unfortunately, my hearing loss is complicated by an ongoing battle with sinus congestion exacerbated by a deviated septum.  You see, the deviation prevents normal sinus drainage and that causes congestion and the congestion localizes in my sinuses, causes inflammation and swelling, which in turn presses on the ear drum which results in............diminished hearing!  I know that part of my hearing problem is caused by this because pretty regularly, when I'm driving, if there is a change in elevation (i.e. going up or down a big change in a BIG hill), my ears will pop and I can hear much better for a short time.

In addition to the sinus problem though, there is a definite loss of being able to hear certain frequencies that is probably due to the many ear infections I have had over the course of my life.  Mikey's difficulties appear to be more just the regular hearing loss most folks get as a part of the aging process.  The two different kinds of deafness in our house can be kind of funny.

From what I understand, certain vocal frequencies carry different kinds of sounds.  For instance, I was told by an audiologist that vowel sounds are carried at the high frequencies and consonants are carried on the low frequencies.  Most age-related hearing loss occurs first in the high frequencies.  That is Mikey's problem. He cannot hear high frequency sounds.  For instance, there is some sort of sensor in his car that has a two tone, high pitched beep as the engine cools.  Every time he comes home and turns off the car, the beep will start and continue at longer and longer intervals until the engine cools to a certain point.  I know this because I can hear it.  Mikey, however, cannot hear it (and at first thought I was delusional!)

On the other hand, my problem is the reverse.  My hearing loss is in the lower frequencies.

So, in other words, Mikey cannot hear some of the higher frequency vowels!  So when someone is speaking to him, particularly a female, all he can hear clearly are the consonants so it sounds something like, "kfgjl ldlrjd lkkfgll; dkt;d jgmvnn!"  Whereas, I cannot hear some of the lower frequencies so all I can hear clearly are the vowels, sort of like, "eioo  ooa iauuuu oioaa yyaoo eeoiii!"   And neither of us can understand half of what is being said to us.  It is really funny when he and I are alone.
sometimes our conversations go back and forth like this:

Mikey:   (high frequency gibberish)
Me:   Excuse me??
Mikey:   (repeats louder)
Me:  What?
Mikey:  (repeats again)
Me:   (low frequency gibberish)
Mikey:  Huh??
Me:   (repeats louder)
Mikey: (mumble, mumble squeak)
Me:   I'm sorry but I can't hear you.  What did you say?
Mikey:  Oh never mind.

Then we go about our business until the next time one of us has something to say.  Now of course, many times, this doesn't happen because we are in close proximity and can add in a little lip-reading.  It's amazing how just being able to see someone's mouth can make such an enormous difference!  But when we are at opposite ends of the house, it's frustrating.

If there is some random unusual sound that occurs from time to time, one of us will say "Did you hear that?"  The other will say "Hear what?"    If the sound is too high, he can't hear it.  If it's too low, I can't hear it.

The trouble is, we kind of forget about the deafness  in between conversations and thus we are doomed to repeating these frustrating talks increasingly often!

We are undoubtedly going to have to break down and look into the hearing aid thing pretty soon.  I just wish that what I have heard about hearing aids was more positive.  I'm kind of hoping that by holding off, we will be able to take advantage some wonderful new state-of-the-art technology that will make hearing easier without all the problems that others have reported.  We'll see.

In the meantime, though, conversations at our house are pretty haphazard and if we're not careful, can lead to ALL KINDS of misunderstandings!  Husbands and wives frequently don't understand their spouse's actions or opinions to begin with, if we can't even hear each other, that lack of understanding becomes a real challenge!

It's really kind of surprising , just how much "attitude"  can be conveyed through "kfgjl ldlrjd lkkfgll; dkt; dm jgmvnn!" and  "eioo  ooa iauuuu oioaa yyaoo eeoiii!"      Not to worry though, we've been married so long that we've already said all of the important stuff!!!   LOL!!

"Sorry, what did you say???"    You know, this getting old thing is really beginning to lose its charm!


  1. Mel, I am really beginning to suffer our separation anxiety! LOL! I, too, have ear problems, much like you described. Mine resulted due to measles at age 7, a malignant tumor on the eardrum at age 12, a radical mastoid surgery at at 19, etc. I have worn an aid in my left ear for 11 years. Now, I have a newer ones in both ears. Go to Beltone! Expensive? Yes, but well worth it. My Beltone Man is a wizard, as they probably all are. Now, I don't wear them around the house if no one else is there, so I guess the house could catch fire and I would not hear the alarm, but surely I would smell the smoke! LOL! (nose still works!)
    Now it's the new problem with my eyes. Posterior Vitreous Detachment. This growing older has most definitely lost its charm! (But it's better than the alternative.)

  2. Oh guys sound like my Frank and me. I can hear but miss words...they get garbled. We are always adjusting the TV and asking what did they say? Talking on the phone to some people is awful. One has to keep a sense of humor.....:)


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