Yes, I can hear you now

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I bet my new neighbors think I’m the worst mother in the world. I’m always yelling at my children. I was a cheerleader in high school, and I have a habit of going from loud to really loud the more times I have to repeat it.

My Mr. Man laughs at us Nelson girls when he comes to dinner. He said we sound like a bunch of old women sitting around the table yelling at one another. He doesn’t mean anything bad by it. It’s just that when you live in a house in which three out of the four occupants are hearing impaired, it’s bound to be a little (or maybe a lot) noisy.

Hence, all the yelling.

Hearing is one of those things we all take for granted, I guess. When you’re expecting a new baby, one never considers that it may never hear the sound of your voice or music or the wind blowing through the trees.

According to statistics compiled by Gallaudet University, about two to four of every 1,000 people in the U.S. are “functionally deaf,” though more than half became deaf relatively late in life; fewer than 1 out of every 1,000 people in the United States became deaf before 18. And, anywhere from nine to 22 out of every 1,000 people have a severe hearing impairment or are deaf. Plus, if everyone who has any kind of “trouble” with their hearing is included then anywhere from 37 to 140 out of every 1,000 people in the United States have some kind of hearing loss, with a large share of them being at least 65.

I am among those “nine to 22.” It’s hard to adjust, too, considering I make my living listening to people. It took me the longest time to realize that I had adjusted how I did my job around my hearing impairment. I avoided large crowds, because I couldn’t understand the conversation that was happening right in front of my face for all the others going on around me. I always situated myself in the front of the room, not because the commissioners refuse to use their microphones (because they do), but because it’s easier to watch their faces as they speak.

I’ll bet there are scores of you reading this who do the same thing, or at least who should realize that you do, if you think about it really hard.

So, be like me, and do the grown-up think – get some hearing aids. Your neighbors (maybe even your wife or your Mr. Man) will thank you for it.