Wednesday, 17 June 2015


Reading Tom's blog today started me off thinking about silence.   Being deaf means that the first thing I do when I get out of bed in the morning is to put my hearing aid on.   Without it I really can hear next to nothing.

It is many years since I heard the dawn chorus because the birds can sing all they like and I am not able to hear their chorus.   Blackbirds sing from every corner of our garden and from the top of every post - but I am oblivious to it all without my aid.   I put it in and immediately  I hear the blackbirds, the robin, the chaffinch, the collared doves - and the many sparrows in the holly (are sparrows really in short supply in some places? If so I really think they have all congregated in our garden).

I walk down the lane at lunch time with Tess and it is only when she turns round and looks worried that I realise a car is gently coasting along behind us waiting for us to move out of the way.   Because even with a hearing aid some sounds evade my hearing system.   Cyclists soar past, making me jump out of my skin and risking a tumble if Tess steps in front of them.   I ask myself - when did cyclists stop having bells on their handlebars?   When did motorists stop using their horns to make us aware of their approach?

Obviously I wish I were not deaf, but I have been like this since I was in my early thirties.   When I taught in Comprehensive School I had to have absolute silence for calling the register (do they still do this today?) - I had no hearing aid in those days as my loss was not great enough.   My form were marvellous and always got really cross with anyone who scraped their chair or rustled a paper.   Wonder if it would still be the same today.

But there is an advantage.   If there is something (or someone ) I don't wish to hear then I can switch off.   An example - if I am on a train and reading a good book, or trying to do the Times Crossword and some one behind me or across the aisle is going on and on about something - then silence is golden.   If I am in a cafe and there is that awful piped music in the background, it is rather nice to drink my coffee without hearing it. Just me and a friend sitting close together and my hearing is good enough to hold a conversation, and the music is blanked out.

It is like so many other things in life.   We are stuck with them and we have to make the best of them.   Music, which used to play a large part in my life, is quite a closed book now as my hearing loss is such that it is difficult differentiating between the notes  and often the piece is quite a way into it before I have established the note and the key - then I can follow it but can't always hear all the different parts, so listening to music is no longer an important part of my life.

 Just home from my over sixties exercise class - the first time I have been for five weeks - and by golly it tells!   I am tired, stiff and ready for a sit down - but a woman's work is never done - dish washer to empty, dog's dinner to get, sandwiches to make for tea and then I can sit down and watch 'Pointless' with the farmer (an apt title in more ways than one)!


donna baker said...

Oh Weaver, am so glad that you can hear the birds with your hearing aid. And, all the other various things that you want to hear. I had fluid in my ears for a week once and couldn't hear a thing. It was awful. My husband needs one badly, but will not get one. It is a nuisance to us that have to keep repeating things to him. Mine is going, but I will get one when the time comes. Do you know that sparrows in the USA are considered trash birds and can be killed at will? It is just awful.

Joanne Noragon said...

I need hearing aids too, especially in meetings. I need to have the volume turned down at my next appointment; either people are louder or my hearing is improved. I am still training my granddaughters in enunciation, modulation and volume. I find they are little used skills these days, and I wish I were at liberty to tell a great many people they mumble; words are made to be enunciate. Do you British do a better job of that training in schools?

Anonymous said...

This was a very interesting reflective post which made me stop and think. I have a friend I go bird watching with and he (being a little older than me) can no longer hear Goldcrests, they being very high pitched and therefore often the first birdsong that older folks stop hearing. I feel sorry for him because he loves listening to his birds. I think I shall go outside and stand in the garden and just listen for a while (although I think you're on to a winner being able to shut out irritating noises!). CT :o)

Mac n' Janet said...

I have hearing in one ear, it's sort of a family thing. I imagine I'll need a hearing aid eventually. That's one of the things that Medicare won't pay for and they are quite expensive.

Terra said...

How creative you are using your ability to turn off the hearing aids to miss conversations that are annoying you. I have hearing aids too and love that I hear so much better now.

Anonymous said...

I am much the same but, living alone, I don't use my hearing aid unless I am going to meet people, I prefer the silence.

I am exactly like you are with music, though I still have an extensive collection of it.

Tom Stephenson said...

I didn't know until now that you are deaf, Weave. And from such an early age too. Like Joanne, I am glad that you can still hear the birdies with a bit of help.

Frances said...

I live in a very noisy city, and hope that my hearing will be prolonged by my never using headphones to listen to music. Traveling to and fro via our screechy subway system must have taken its toll. Still, I am happy to be awakened in summer by birdsong, well before the alarm clock beeps. (Weaver, this goes back to your prior post about animal clocks.)

I've worked with folks who have hearing problems, and some of them are down to headphones, but some are not. My own Mom was convinced to consider having her hearing tested well after my brother and I knew how much her hearing had been affected. Nowadays she complains about the cost of those expensive batteries, yet can hear our voices.

I hope that I will also be aware of a time when my hearing is affected, and that whatever is diagnosed will also have a remedy that allows me to continue to hear what pleases me. I love what you've written about the option of choosing silence.

Cro Magnon said...

My late Mother in Law was very deaf. I once took her to a hospital appointment for a reassessment; the doctor told her to remove her hearing aid then spoke to her in a VERY soft voice. I was amazed to see that she heard every word. Very odd.

thelma said...

Think I'm going a bit deaf, must admit love the idea of tuning out of the busy world that goes on around us. Dawn chorus is still waking us up at an unholy hour every morning.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I never thought about how you would have to buy hearing aids in the US - here they are available free on the NHS and very efficient they are too. But I have two or three friends here (I have to say that they are all men) who absolutely refuse to admit to being deaf and refuse hearing aids although they quite obviously need them. Why cut out sounds you need to hear - it is so irritating for the speaker.

Linda P. said...

I, too, wear hearing aids, but doing so was no big deal to me (other than the cost). I have a profoundly deaf granddaughter who now has cochlear implants. The joy on her face when the second one was implanted about a year after the first would be enough to reconcile myself to wearing regular hearing aids, but there was also my own joy in realizing that my bare feet make slapping sounds when I walk across the tile floors and that the dogs' nails make clicking sounds on those same floors. I have very short hair, above my ears, and I ordered red ones to show my granddaughter that they're no big deal. She's eleven and was beginning to be embarrassed by the big circular magnets clamped to either side of her head.

I learned that by the time most people begin to wonder if they might have a hearing loss, their loss is probably much worse than they imagined. (Hence, my not remembering the sound of my bare feet on a tile floor since it had been so long since I had heard it.) I didn't get mine until several friends in various parts of the U.S. reported such good results from Costco's array of hearing aids at half the cost of privately obtained ones. My Costco audiologist told me that when she was in private practice, the version I chose cost her more wholesale than I was getting it retail.

Music is difficult because hearing aids are meant to help with hearing the human voice for the most part, she told me. My piano sounded like a harpsichord, and at first I took out my hearing aids to practice. However, my audiologist was able to map a special program for listening to music that took out that tinny sound and made music sound a bit richer again. It still took some adjustment.

By the way, I enjoy your blog!