I knew it was coming a long time ago. I can still hear my paternal grandmother shouting “Speak up! Don’tcha know I’m DEEF?”. Still the reality of gradually losing my hearing has been hard to take. I take comfort in the fact that I’m not alone! Judging by the amount of posts on misheard song lyrics, I’m in good company.
I was reminded again of this last Monday. Listening to my friend Leanne Regalla singing Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle”, I heard the real lyrics for the first time. It’s “everything, everything will be alright”, NOT “Elvis & Elvis it’ll be alright”. Now it makes sense! And I’m not alone. Many people apparently have misheard those lyrics. We won’t get into Dylan or Tom Petty here, but, really! Teach these men to enunciate!
I wonder how many people who mishear lyrics, or conversation at a party or on the phone are really hard of hearing like myself. After all, who routinely goes to the audiologist? We get our eyesight checked every few years, but there’s no shame in having less-than-20/20 vision. You’re not immediately tagged as old and useless, like you are when you can’t hear.
I did have the heads-up with Nana, then my Dad’s hearing went downhill. My older sister suddenly got hearing aids, too. But I put it off. Until the Scorpions concert in Chicago. My husband Ken’s favorite band was playing in the Rosemont Theatre outside of Chicago in August 2010, and he had never seen them live. So, off we went. We booked one night in a hotel close to the venue and drove out. That was the night my world changed for the worse. We were raised on Rock’n’Roll, so we didn’t think to bring earplugs. The volume was SO high, I had ear pain like I’ve never had before. It actually made me cry. The ringing in both ears lasted a week, and the hearing never came back up to where it had been. I had to face it, it was time for the audiologist.
Fast forward 7 years, I’m on my second pair of hearing aids and I’m still singing and playing guitar. I’m singing the correct lyrics, thanks to the internet. I don’t sing “ships pull in and cars roll by” in American Girl anymore (it’s really “she could hear the cars roll by”. Who knew?) And I am not shy about revealing to others that I am hard of hearing, and use hearing aids. Especially in noisy places or on the phone, when I may miss the conversation. I tell the speaker that I am hard of hearing, and ask them to speak a little more slowly. It doesn’t always work, but at least I have an excuse when I give an inappropriate response!
Lack of hearing is not a consequence of old age, it just happens to old and young. It stinks to be a musician and not be able to hear correctly anymore, but there are worse things (I think). So, if I ask you to repeat yourself, more slowly, and look at me when you’re speaking, please be kind. I just really want to know what you said.
One perk? I’m the favorite of speakers, they think I hang on their every word. I do, just because it helps to “see” the words too.