Remember when I first got my hearing aids? I had such a hard time with the harsh, brittle, crashing sounds they made. I was so disappointed – I had been expecting things to sound more beautiful and instead they just crashed and bashed.
Well, now I take it all back.
Yesterday was my first shift at the hospice. One thing I hadn’t realized, and probably should have, is that when people approach death, or even when they’re just really ill, they have very little energy. And when they’re trying to talk, that often translates into a serious lack of volume.
Under normal circumstances, this would be a huge impediment to communication. How can you listen to someone if you can barely hear them? How can you respond, understand, connect? It’s tough, bordering on impossible.
But thanks to my hearing aids, I do not have to abide by normal circumstances. I have superpowers!
As I was sitting by the bedside of a patient yesterday, unable to make out her words, I remembered that I could just turn up the volume! One simple adjustment to those little unobtrusive augmented reality pods in my ears, and the edges of all those soft, breathy words were sharpened and clarified and I could catch almost every single one. Hmmry Chrimmmmtmm became Hilary Clinton, and we could ruminate on her chances of winning the election.
And in the event that there is no sound emerging at all, I’m still good, since forty years of resisting hearing aids have given me olympic-caliber lip-reading skills.
A disability, my hearing? A disappointment, those hearing aids? I never thought I’d say this, but I feel like I’m the lucky one now.