The Deafinite Response
The first time I ever put in a hearing aid it felt like I had experienced a 6th sense. Something like a third eye. It was always hidden yet in plain site. And it was horrible. No one wants to speak to ghosts, and no one wants to hear everyone’s thoughts. So why would I want to be able to hear absolutely everything that happened around me?
There’s a short cartoon that stuck with me for a long time in Drip Drippy Donald (1948) Donald Duck struggles to sleep. And if you haven’t watched this before please do so as it’s still very funny. As continuous events prevent him falling asleep, but especially a while a tap drips, and with the dripping that becomes an increasingly irate Donald struggling to sleep. The tap never finds new and innovative ways to keep him awake.
I have never had this problem. My sleep at best is disturbed from an open blind, but never a dripping tap.
But it’s the best way I can convey why those little noises become so obtrusive in your everyday life when you spent your entire life never hearing them.
I found it a little uneasy that everytime I picked up a piece of paper it was so prominent in my brain. Footsteps were elaborate. Doors were louder. The wind suddenly had a character in its sound. To be millennial about it: I was woke.
And these are just the peripheral reasons why I don’t wear them day to day.
So when I tried using them at work I thought it would cure all my woes. I’d finally hear what all those awesome conversations were about that were just out of reach for me. But it all felt useless. The outside conversations people love to dip into I was either not interested in or I could never focus on the words when I needed to. They weren’t my ears I was listening from. There was a wall there, it was as if I was climbing over to see the grass but I never on the field.
And of course, there’s the hearing aids themselves. I was given two of them, as technically both my ears are knackered. I remember I would put them in, take them out, stare at them. Interestingly, whenever you insert a hearing aid you hear a whistle. So I would insert them, hear the whistle, take them out, put them back in, hear the whistle. Rinse and repeat. It was a new toy I was fascinated with, something I would need to work out as an extension of myself.
But it became increasingly difficult. They become easily lost, expensive to replace, and expensive maintain. Batteries are not as cheap as you hope they will be, and more importantly, they recommend that the batteries are changed every day. That’s a lot of batteries (environmental reasons alone, that’s insane.)
As generous as it is to have hearing aids on the NHS and through Specsavers respectively, it still cost £60 for a replacement, and that’s a basic hearing aid. If my level of hearing was extremely poor I’d have no choice but to pay out of my pocket for a basic human requirement. You are given a box of batteries free when you’re first given the hearing aids but then it’ll cost you. (This is more a reflection on the state of the NHS now than it is a jab at any of these services, as we’re lucky to have what we have, but I feel there’s an agreement that money’s there for the NHS that just isn’t being inserted into it.)
But there’s more to it than just battery life, and easily lost hearing aids, and a lack of budget for the hearing aids from the government (although that does lead into my next point).
The quality of hearing aids provide a basic function and don’t provide for life in 2018. It’s not a surprise to anyone who knows me that about 80 percent of my day is spent listening to music. I’m not the world’s biggest expert but I am passionate about it. So when I don’t have a hearing aid that compensates for volume in a music venue, through speakers, then it just makes me feel like a robot that only hears everything through an auxiliary port.
What that comes down to is lifestyle and wellbeing. If a device you use is unable to allow you to go about your life in the way you did before, then ultimately it affects lifestyle and mood. For me I’d rather listen to music organically (as organically as you can through earphones and headsets,) I’d rather not have to listen to the sound of dripping taps, or linger to the words of a mundane conversation about the weather. I like my bubble of murmuring voices that blend together as if it’s a prelude to a greater album. That’s been my life so far and until my basic human requirements are completely jeopardised I will be staying away from them.
Unfortunately, it’s said that hearing decreases more rapidly without hearing aids. Similar to eyesight. If you don’t wear the right prescription you are more likely to lose your sight faster. But I’m on the mindset that the disintegration of my veins between my ears and brain will at least appreciate the ignorance of knowing what I don’t know. With that in mind here’s a song about disintegration: