I’ve been ruminating on the cruel design of the hearing trumpet, a necessary object created to look like a comedian’s wet dream.
I think these twisted thoughts has been precipitated by many weeks of my own hearing being particularly bad. Consequently I’ve been mocked in a good humoured enough way, by work colleagues and flat mates. Good natured as the jibes may be, my reaction has not been in kind, earning me further misery guts appellations for not appreciating the joke.
It seems PC attitudes haven’t yet seeped through towards those who suffer from hearing loss.
I started having problems with ear infections, ruptured ear drums and such like in my late teens. This was exacerbated by long distance travel, genetic predilection, a lifestyle lax in health and hygiene and a propensity to attend extremely loud concerts and occasionally curl up in the speaker system of whatever band was on offer, for a wee nap.
Many an arrival at an exotic location was marred by an emergency visit to the local A and E (a great way to experience a different culture is by interacting with the public healthcare system). Plans were often scuppered, such as scuba diving training, by being honest in my health questionnaire (by the time I did my parachute jump I had learned to lie on said questionnaires).
I think my first experience of being deaf was in my early 20’s where an infection meant I lost hearing in my left ear for several months.
I learned basic lip reading when I realised that people become bored if asked to repeat themselves and quickly pass off what they said with, ‘it’s not important’ or ‘don’t worry about it’.
Over the years my hearing has eroded a little with each infection and ear drum rupture and I’ve simply adjusted and compensated.
What I find impossible to control though is human reaction, especially as this year has seen a further degeneration in my hearing.
Brain function is a weird and wonderful thing. Sometimes I get a delayed reaction to what I hear, and when I receive the shape of the sound I need a little time to interpret it. In this pocket of time I see eyes glaze, toes tap, and people wandering off from any conversation we may be engaged in.
Visual impairment and mobility impairment is tangible and thus there is a banner and label with a criterion of acceptable reactions. Hearing loss is invisible and comes with a subliminal label of potential comedy situations.
Anyway, I’ll get a test sorted out, although the possibility of needing a decidedly uncool hearing aid (I’m pretty sure the high-tech near invisible hearing aids aren’t available on the NHS), is a block to taking definitive action.
To get through this I’ll just remember the last ‘The Fall’ concert I went to, where my very cool peers were generally overweight, balding and some had ear plugs and yes, some also had hearing aids.