Hear! Hear!

No two ways about it. I wouldn’t want to lose either my sight or my my hearing. With my love of music, reading, and photography, the loss of either would be a downer. That’s not even counting the effect on my driving!

At this stage of my life (I’m seventy-two), I don’t know that I could handle learning to read braille or communicate using the American Sign Language. Or to adjust to using other ways of doing the things that keep me going.

Even though glasses correct my vision adequately–they do nothing for my color blindness, of course–my hearing is a different matter.

I can’t recall when I first started wearing hearing aids, but it no more than fifteen years ago. I started with Beltone and switched to Widex two or three years ago because my health insurance helped some with the cost.

The Beltone and Widex hearing aids both had/have bells and whistles the wearer can adjust according to taste and circumstances. I rarely messed with those features with the Beltone and have done so even less with the Widex.

I just want to be able to hear and understand what people are saying!

And therein lies the real issue. Even though I hear and understand immeasurably better now than I would without hearing aids, there are certain instances (the reverberation in the halls at the mall, for example) in which complete comprehension is nearly impossible.

The way certain people talk is another issue. Our church music director must think I’m a total grouch for my failure to laugh at her funny stories when everyone else is cackling riotously. I guess I’ll get around to explaining that to her privately–sometime. (I can normally understand her very well one-on-one and can always ask her to repeat something if absolutely necessary.)

I mentioned the mall. What makes that especially frustrating is trying to communicate with several employees I’ve grown quite fond of–at least one Hindu and a whole family of Muslims. Although their English is reasonably good (some better than others), their accents (along with my hearing problems) make it difficult to carry on a serious discussion.

I’m always thankful when my wife is with me–not just at the mall, but anywhere. Everywhere. She understands what I’m going through, and she makes sure I correctly comprehend what others say, although she may not realize I’ve misunderstood something until I respond to someone in a way that makes totally no sense.

No two ways about it. It doesn’t whether years of listening to Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and other loud rock groups through headphones contributed to my current problems or simply age, but I do miss natural hearing.

I’d be hard pressed to function without hearing aids. Even though I hope the Widex will function adequately for the rest of my life, I think I’d be ready to try those three hundred dollar ones I’ve seen so many advertisements for before I spent more thousands of dollars on anything else.

I just want to be able to hear the best I can for as long as I can. Preferably till death. Is that asking too much?

Any comments?

I’ll be back again next Sunday if I have anything to say. Otherwise, we’ll try for the Sunday after that. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Roger's newest novel

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Hear! Hear!

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Somewhere in the Bible’s Old Testament you’ll find the words “He who has ears, let him hear.” Or something close to that. I’m not always a perfect Bible quoter, and I’m even worse at remembering exactly where any given verse is found.

Although my father has been dead since 1993, one of the things I remember best about him is the fact that he wore hearing aids for a number of years prior to his death. Judging by my mother’s complaints about still having to repeat everything, either they didn’t do much good or he failed to have them in all of the time.

Probably fifteen years ago–maybe longer–I realized that not everyone was actually mumbling. And I was asking for people to repeat themselves more and more often. Not good. I was only middle-aged then.

I’d never priced hearing aids seriously, but I’d noticed the prices in Costco and figured I’d better start saving.

Funny how that money I kept setting aside always ending up going for something I considered far less important. But that’s another story. One I don’t plan on sharing here.

I’m not sure why I ended up going to Beltone, but I did. In fact, my wife accompanied me. She knew I’d forget most of the important details by the time I got home if she didn’t come.

We were both well impressed with the testing and the Beltone products, and we ended up taking out a loan from my credit union to buy a pair. Not the most expensive by far. Closer to the least expensive.

Such an improvement! Well worth the investment.

But as I got used to wearing them–and as the years passed–I realized that hearing aids only help. They are no substitute for good natural hearing.

I wouldn’t enjoy life nearly as much without my hearing aids, but more and more I have to accept the fact that I’ll never hear anything quite the way it probably actually sounds.

I’m back to thinking that some people are mumbling and asking folks to repeat things again. Not as bad as before, but–at sixty-eight–would investing in new hearing aids be worth it? I doubt seriously that anyone receiving them as a bequest from my will would have any use for them.

Or should I try something other than Beltone? There are cheaper, but are they equally good? I don’t know.

But I do know that if I want to keep writing, playing, and listening to music, I may have to bite the bullet and do some serious investigating.

Any opinions or advice? Please leave a comment.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I use “As I Come Singing” to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Check it out HERE  if you’re interested. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

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My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Best regards,
Roger

Hear! Hear!

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Who would ever have thought that listening to loud music over headphones during the latter sixties and early seventies would have had such a detrimental effect on my hearing? Yes, of course the problem might just be advanced age, but who wants to think of himself as old enough to have hearing problems?

I’m sure I heard warnings about the dangers of loud music–when I turned the volume down far enough to hear the warnings–but I certainly didn’t pay that much attention to them. After all, I was years away from being old enough to have problems.

I’m not sure how old I was when I first became aware that my hearing had deteriorated. The obvious problem was the fact that my (not yet ex-) wife always mumbled.

Nonetheless, I looked at the price of hearing aids at Costco and decided I needed to start saving. The day would come when I would HAVE to do something before I ended up agreeing to something horribly wrong because I hadn’t heard about it correctly.

Saving at that time was a losing battle. So I continued to hear less and less accurately.

Years later I had to admit that the time had come to do something. If I’d ever been self-conscious about having people see me wearing hearing aids, those days were gone.

So I went to Beltone. Maybe not the least expensive choice I could have made, but they have quality products and excellent follow up service. I had to take out a loan to pay the $3000 each for the hearing aids I still use.

I’m concerned that these may no longer be doing the trick. That is to say, I keep asking people to repeat what they say a lot more than I’d been doing.

But my wife and I have determined–thanks largely to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University–to get totally out of debt, and we’re getting really close to doing that. Early next year my car will be paid off, and that’s the last thing we owe any money on. After that, we plan to sock money away into our Emergency Fund for a while.

So it looks like I may have to settle for the current hearing aids until we figure out how to do something about them without going against our financial plans.

If you’re one of the people I keep saying “What?” to, please understand that I’m just a man of age with a problem of age.

How’s your hearing? Any signs of problems yet? How about dropping a comment here to tell us about it.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my blogs. On “As I Come Singing”check it out here–I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here for a list.

Best regards,
Roger

Spanish That Wasn’t Quite Adequate

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I took three years of Spanish in high school. Early in my studies, I started feeling pretty confident. So much so that I tried showing off to the slightly older (and very attractive) sister of my best friend.

Doggone! How was I supposed  to know that their father had been stationed in Puerto Rico long enough for her to know Spanish better than I ever would?

I learned two things from that experience. Don’t show off about my Spanish, and don’t show off—period. Maybe that’s why I don’t compare myself to other guitar players. If someone tells me I’m good, I’ll thank them graciously, but I know better than to let it go to my head.

But we weren’t talking about my guitar playing.

When I entered junior college, they told me I needed one year of a foreign language. They didn’t offer a second year Spanish course, and they weren’t about to let somebody who’d studied it three years in high school meet the requirements with the first year course.

So, out of necessity, I started taking first year French. I hated it, and I could easily see it ruining my 3+ GPA.

But one of my instructors, Mr. Kirkconnell, befriended me and arranged to teach a second year class with me as his only student. Now THAT was something else, even if he did miss a lot of classes.

Flash forward forty years or so. I was writing Found in Translation and needed to use some authentic Spanish. With a little help from the Internet, I was able to do what I needed to do.

Flash forward to a month ago, when I first learned about my church’s upcoming mission trip to Nicaragua. Hmm. Perfect time to brush up on my Spanish, huh?

I bought a grammar refresher book. From going through just the first fifty pages, I discovered how much I hadn’t learned in high school, much less forgotten. So I abandoned that book in favor of a Spanish-English dictionary and a little Dummies book of useful Spanish phrases.

I wasn’t set, but I was as set as I’d ever be.

We arrived in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua. The signs were pretty easy to figure out—for the greater part.

But spoken Spanish? Forget it! Even if I didn’t Have a hearing problem, I couldn’t listen fast enough to follow it. So I got real good at saying, “Lo siento” (“I’m sorry”), “No comprendo” (“I don’t understand”), and “Donde es el bano?” (“Where’s the bathroom?”). I didn’t bother with “No tan rapido, por favor” (“Not so fast, please”) because I knew it wouldn’t help.

I’ve concluded that part of the problem is the same thing that makes Spanish such a beautiful language to listen to (if one doesn’t need to know what’s being said): The words basically roll together in such a way that somebody like me can’t easily separate  them into individual words.

I’m glad I brushed up on my Spanish, though. But if I get to go to Nicaragua again, I hope I’ll at least have a larger vocabulary. Maybe I’ll get a little further than “Hola” (“Hello” or “Hi”), even if I still can’t understand what the person I’m trying to talk to says back.

What’s your experience with a foreign language? Or are you still working on English?

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Please leave a comment if something in this post has spoken to you. I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to the top right of this page where it says, “Follow Blog via Email.”

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing” to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Because I’ve used up all of my songs, I revise and repost a previous post each Wednesday. If you’re interested, please check that blog out here.

Best regards,
Roger