|By Gael Hannan, Hearing Health Matters 4/10/2012
I lose things. Frequently. Single earrings and single gloves are favorite things to lose, but reading glasses and car keys are also high on the likely-to-go-missing list.
My late mother would have said I lose things because I’m disorganized, but anyone would seem sloppy compared to my nurse/drill sergeant mom. And my husband might point to my desk half-covered with papers as proof that I’m prone to losing things.
Well, hardy har har! The light has finally dawned on the prime reason for my being such a big loser.
It’s because I’m hard of hearing.
If it were not for my hearing loss, I would have a full jewellery box, a fine collection of lovely winter gloves, and I might still be using the same old pair of reading glasses.
You see, I don’t misplace these items – I drop them, unknowingly. And when a lightweight item – such as an earring or a mitten – drops, I don’t hear it. If I don’t see something falling to the ground, the chances are high that I won’t hear it, either.
And in noisy places such as restaurants, I could probably drop a 500-page book, my purse, or even the baby without the sound registering in my brain. Oh, I might hear something, but if the brain is busy trying to sort out a cacophony of noise signals, it might not interpret the thud of the baby as an urgent-need-to-know sound.
I appreciate that hearing people also lose things and I commiserate, but I truly believe this loser problem is more serious and frustrating for my people, the HoH people.
I usually don’t lose things when I’m standing on glass or metal surfaces, which admittedly is not often. Items hitting metal tend to sound like cymbals clashing in my hearing aids – there’s just no way I couldn’t hear it. (To better appreciate the truly spine-jarring noise of metal, ask any new hearing aid wearer what it’s like to eat dinner with family members who selfishly slam around their knives, forks and spoons.)
No, most of my lost stuff falls on sound-absorbing surfaces: a bracelet into thick carpeting, a favorite earring on old pine flooring (the cat was playing with it), sunglasses in the grass, mittens in the snow, and leather driving gloves on the pavement beneath the car door.
But now that I understand the connection between losing things and my hearing loss, I can accept with grace that I’m a hard of hearing loser. And now I can do something to stem the tide of my losses, because constantly replacing nice earrings and good gloves is expensive!
Just this evening while preparing dinner, my new reading glasses suddenly slipped sideways on my nose. Due to a faulty pin, an arm had fallen to the ground, soundlessly. Luckily, it fell in my own kitchen, saving me from having to shell out $50 for yet another pair of readers.
Here are some strategies that may help me stop all the losing:
• Keep clothes pockets well-stitched; small things find their way through small holes, and I don’t hear them going south to the floor.
• When I get out of the car, I’ll look down and check the ground before moving away.
• A falling glove is only around 30 dB at point of impact; I know this because my son and I did a scientific experiment. (See photo.) I’m 5’5″ on a good day, so by the time the sound reaches my ears, it’s negligible, impossible to hear. To increase the volume of the glove’s impact with the ground, I will sew heavy metal bits onto the fingertips of my leather gloves. My arms will hang almost to my knees, but my hands will be warm.
• Earrings are lightweight and adept at working themselves out of my ears. It’s as though they are magnetically repelled by my hearing aids. Besides securing them with those little plastic safety guards, I’ll double check they’re still there each time I tap/activate my t-switch buttons.
• I’ll wear my reading glasses on a chain, to minimize the risk of dropping or misplacing them. (I did buy a chain the other day, but I can’t find it.)
• When people can’t find their cars in large parking lots, a button on their keys can set off the car lights, horn or trunk. But I’m not good at localizing sound, especially car horns. Besides, I’ve never lost my car – it’s the keys that I don’t hear clattering to the ground, somewhere, usually far from the car. How about a button on the car that would set off signal flares from my keys. Is that brilliant, or what?
Sigh. I’m tired of being a hard of hearing loser, so I welcome suggestions from other losers with hearing loss, or hearing healthcare professionals. Or anybody, even.
See a photo of Gael’s fallen glove, read responses to this article, and read more of Gael’s blogs at http://hearinghealthmatters.org/betterhearingconsumer/2012/confessions-of-a-hard-of-hearing-loser/