Hmm? What?

August 3, 2007

Permit me a moment or three to complain over what is most likely nothing.

I’m off from work today – I’ve taken the day off to see a hearing doctor. (Hence the weird timestamp on this post. I fell asleep on the sofa from about 8pm til about 1am. Now I’m perky.) I did this last year (wow, how the apartment has changed!) and they found minor loss in the left ear. Today’s test will be telling – I’ll be able to see if it’s deteriorating by comparing it to last year’s chart.

I can hear when it’s quiet. I have troubles hearing when there is background noise. And life is full of background noise. If the TV and air conditioner is on here, I can’t understand Wandering Minstrel when he speaks to me. I hear his voice, but the words all run together. When I go to Starbucks with Mom, the overhead music and other peoples’ conversations blend and I can’t understand what she’s saying. So I have to lean in and say a lot of “whats”. Noisy restaurants are the absolute worst. This isn’t me tuning people out because I’m really trying hard to hear these people – to the point of starting to watch peoples’ lips.

I especially notice this at work. I may have mentioned that I’m sitting in a cubicle in the middle of a bunch of sales reps.* Who talk all day. There are phones ringing all day. There are people yelling across the room all day. This is background noise. So when someone yells my name to get my attention – I can’t hear them. It all blends. So it looks like I’m ignoring them. Even when someone nearby is trying to have a conversation with me at work, I have to lean over the cube divider into their “space” to hear them. Rather, understand them.

The “Whats?” and “Hmmms?” are embarrassing. At work I wear my iPod to try and white-noise out the commotion. Plus, it gives me a reason to say I didn’t hear someone, other than “well, I think I can’t hear.” I’m tired of Hmmm-ing all the time. I don’t care if I have to end up wearing some crazy hearing aid contraption with visible antennae. (Example.) I just want to understand what people are saying.

Since I was off, I made an eye appointment too. So this time tomorrow night I’ll be sporting new glasses and maybe if I’m feeling jaunty, new sunglasses too. (Not at the same time, natch.)

Warning: I’m completely cool with needing hearing help sooner rather than later. But if I’m told tomorrow that I need bifocals, I will cry buckets.

*Because that’s the best place ever to put people who have to concentrate on code and being creative. The upside is that I’ve completely surrendered my naive idea of privacy and personal space at work. I’ve assimilated into the Collective. I am no longer One. Soylent Green is made of people…PEOPLE!!!

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  • dr. dave August 3, 2007 at 6:50 am

    That seems really weird. I mean… I have a little high frequency loss, but I’m guessing that unlike me… YOU did not spend the bulk of your late teens and early 20’s in concrete basements playing music at 100+ dB. I was under the impression that most hearing loss this early can be traced to specific damage like that.

    Maybe you just need a good professional de-waxing!

  • Ani August 4, 2007 at 6:33 am

    Niel loves that movie.

    We als have a friend around your age who also has hearing loss. Hope the doctor says you just need a hearing aid and it won’t get any worse. Good luck!

    I know I just typed in “just need a hearing aid”. Don’t mean to put it lightly at all.