Hearing aids are absolutely exhausting. Having every little tick and tock, whir and hum amplified to the same level as to what I actually need to hear and listen to creates an absolute cacophony of distraction; slowly draining energy like a small electronic parasite attached to my ear. Conversations just out of discernible range whisper around me throughout the day. And while I can not make out the words of what is being said, it seems like I could almost feel the breath from these voices on my skin they sound so close. For instance, as I walked to my car yesterday I could hear voices, which sounded nearby, and I looked around and saw no one. Perplexed, I continued to scan the area. I finally saw people across the street in the parking lot exiting a building talking to one another. No words were detectable from them: just a disorienting sequence of voices picked up and transmitted to my nerves in an incoherent fashion.
Conversations in particular prove to be taxing experiences. When I speak I am completely unable to modulate my voice to how loudly or softly I should be speaking. The hearing aids distort and mask the volume at which I am speaking. The volume of my voice is based on the looks on the person’s face I am talking to. Is there a furrowed brow to indicate a straining to hear what I am saying or is there a slight wincing, or pursing of the lips from me braying a few decibels beyond the comfort zone. My eyes dart back and forth and scan the scenario to make sure the volume is reasonable and appropriate, though at times I would be better served to pay closer attention to the content of the conversations is equally thought out. Often I realize a little too late I have reached the Goldilocks conversational level, onto to discover I have subjected the person to tedium and boredom. All of which makes for an exhausting experience and one which requires a certain amount of preparation and attention, a level I would not think is the typical experience of one engaged in light, pleasant conversation.
One result of this inability to hear my voice in a constructive fashion in conversations is that I have been forced to limit the topics I talk about. Since I am unable to tell just how loudly I am speaking, I tend to discuss only what I would be unashamed to have those passing by overhear. This has inadvertently made me into a better person in some regards, and I must say I am I a little resentful of this. Integrity out of necessity, as opposed to actually being someone of high moral fiber, casts a shadow on one’s soul.
Something that is perhaps indicative of other issues, though still problematic in regards to having hearing aids, is the fear, rather terror, I have over losing them. It is strange in many regards to depend on something so small and fragile to function with others throughout the day. While I type this the smartphone comes to mind as somewhat similar, though not even close to being comparable. While it is far from perfect, and indeed in many ways frustrating and actually maddening, I do absolutely rely on my hearing aids to get through the day. If they were to stop working or worse, were to be lost, I would be unable to work in the manner in which I need. This creates much anxiety about the care and placement of these small pieces of technology. There are many nights when I am about to drift off to sleep and then jolt awake, wondering if I put them away safely in their drawer. I get up and check on them and touch each one, counting out loud: one, two. Close the drawer and then open it again and repeat the process. Just making sure they are alright. Just checking on them one more more time like a concerned parent of a newborn looking over a sleeping baby in their crib, getting close to ensure soft, consistent breathing. A worried look on my face until I know for sure they are there, and then the sweet relief sweeping through my body when I see them, touch them, count them and knowing that for now I have the tools necessary to function at a passable level.