Those of us who are hard of hearing often get bogged down in what we can’t hear. Last year I decided to go the positive route and concentrate on what I can hear. At first I thought of stupid things like, “Yeah, I hear the toilet flush,” and “that’s garbage man and I can hear the truck from the back of the house.”
As a few days went by and it changed to things like “I heard that sentence without missing a word,” and gave myself a little pat on the back. Then I heard my cat meow when the house was quiet and I was close enough to him. Yes! I can still hear my cat meow in certain circumstances! (I named this cat Squeaker because I thought he had a squeaky meow and later I realized it was just my hearing making him sound that way.) I spent about two weeks or so focusing on what I could hear and I felt better… but I fell back into old habits.
A few weeks ago a friend asked me how I was doing with my experiment with sounds I could hear. “Oh, well, umm, I forgot about it,” about I confessed. Maybe I should try it again he suggested. So I have.
One day as my boyfriend and I were leaving the house, I heard something I couldn’t place.
“What is that noise,” I asked him.
He listened for a few seconds. “The wind chimes,” he said.
I heard the wind chimes without my hearing aids!!! That is so cool.
Later as I drove down the canyon, I had my iPod on listening to some rock music. I always had trouble hearing the lyrics in one part of a song but that day I heard the confusing part and got the lyrics. “So that’s what they say!” I said to my empty truck. Amazing.
As I drive back and forth in town I keep the radio on, mostly on classic rock. Instead of spacing out or turning the radio down when the commercials or DJ comes on, I listen to see what words I can pick up. I have surprised myself a number of times hearing most of the commercial and understanding what they say. It’s a game for me now.
Then our HLA meeting had a speech pathologist as guest speaker. She talked about our brains forgetting sounds and having to retrain them to understand the sound again. “What if part of forgetting sounds is giving up on them,” I thought. “Maybe keeping the positive frame of mind is a good.” So the experiment continues.
I am visiting my son in Arizona this week. He is going to the community college and taking ASL as his foreign language. After talking to one of my girlfriends here, I realized I knew the ASL teacher, sort of. I worked briefly with his wife a year before moving Utah. I had to pick up my son from his ASL class yesterday (his car was being worked on). The teacher was out wandering the parking and came over to talk to me. It turns out, he remembers me very well because when the girls first introduced me to him, they told him I was hard of hearing so he signed to me which of course I didn’t understand at the time.
We continued to chat and catch up, me sitting in my car, him standing and the wind blowing madly. In the middle of the conversation, I thought, “Hey I don’t have my hearing aids in and I’m understanding this guy completely. I haven’t even asked for a repeat yet.” Of course that made me nervous and I asked for a repeat a few minutes later. Was it because he had a good voice? Or because he looked right at me the whole time or am I better at lip reading than I thought? Again, I amazed myself.
So it’s been a fun experiment. It makes wonder, what else do I hear and not give myself credit for?