Saturday, March 09, 2013

Asking Questions

Having had my hearing aids for three or four months the people that gave them to me wanted to know how I was getting on.  An appointment was arranged to talk through a checklist of questions and to find solutions to some of the problems I was encountering.

Was I actually wearing them?  That was the first question. 

I have to admit that the hearing aids have spent a lot of time out of my ear. Like me, they keep to working hours.  I tend to take them out once I have left work.  I have an hour or two to myself where I’m not talking to anyone but God.  Hearing God or not is not a hearing aid issue.  I like my ears to get a break from having technology stuffed in them.  I sometimes put them back in when Joe arrives home. 

My brain has done the adjustments.   In the beginning I was bombarded with every sound possible – like everyone else.  Everyone else has had years of brain-training to know which sounds are important and which ones can be ignored.  Every rustle of paper, every creak of a chair, every whisper across a room, a strand of hair being twiddled with – I heard it all.  Now I have caught up with everyone else.  I am so comfortable with them that I have to check I have them in.

Are they helping? Duh!  The sound produced by amplifiers I suspect is not top of the range in terms of quality.  Sound can be quite tinny at times.  

What about television?  The volume had been quite high before the aids.  The people next door could probably mute their own TV and just listen to ours!  A man sitting on the wall at the end of the garden might have been able to hear it too or someone sitting on the park bench next to the children’s playground four hundred yards away.  Now we are normal.  Joe and I still fight over the volume control – he likes it a little louder than my hearing aids do.

What about telephones?  I told the woman that I took out my hearing aids to answer the phone.  Any handset with a shape was a challenge.  With my ear drum stuffed to capacity, I couldn’t work out where to place the handset.  Those folk with naturally loud voices were not a problem.  The quiet speakers?  Where before I used to tuck the handset close into my ear, now I didn’t have that option.

The woman pulled out a catalogue of gadgets that included hearing aid friendly phones.  They didn’t look that much different from what I had.  She told me that as a hearing impaired person I could get a discount on phones and that my work was probably responsible to meet my needs.   She also showed me where on the amplifier the hearing aid microphone was. 

How’s the tinnitus?  If only there was a way to pull that out of the ear and stick it in a little black case! When the hearing aids are in there is a continual buzz from the battery that would drive most people nuts but gives my brain something to focus on other than the whistles, beeps and buzzes that it thinks are there.  Once the hearing aids come out, the tinnitus is all that is left.  What had been a background noise for most of my life has shifted to up front.  Like the tuneless kid in the school choir right next to the microphone it’s not to be ignored.   It cannot be switched off and I cannot keep my hearing aids in at night.

She flicked through the pages of the catalogue pointing out various devices that could help and we arranged a meeting with a hearing therapist!  I didn’t know such a person existed.

What I really appreciated about my visit was that the woman asking the questions had her own set of hearing aids in her ears.  She was not an expert who had learned the stuff from a book but actually had not real experience of what I was going through.  Her own hearing loss was much more severe than mine.  My tinnitus was much louder than hers.  A lot of her answers began with the phrase “This is what I do…”

Since they have taken me and faulty ears on, the hospital staff have been excellent.  My transition to hearing aids has not been without its problems, but it has been made easier by the hospital staff.

I was thinking about that this morning. 

I wish my transition into the Kingdom of God had been as easy.  My first few years of being a Christian left me pretty much to my own devices.  I had come to new birth at a rally.  There was not church that I was a real part of.  I went off to university in a matter of weeks.  My newly found faith was tucked away in my heart and memories of Sunday School were tucked away in a distant past.

I joined the Christian Union and I joined a church in a nearby town so I wasn’t entirely the baby abandoned on the doorstep.  There wasn’t anyone in those first few years, though, that made themselves my mentor.  They never asked me how I was getting on in my new found faith.  They never checked the foundations of the building I was constructing.  They assumed that because I was a Theology student I knew it all anyway.

Was I going to church?  Was I enjoying going to church?  How often did I pray?  Did I know God was listening?  What version of the Bible was I reading?  Did it make any sense?  Did I talk to people about my faith?  What doubt did I have?  Did I know about the enemy?  Did I know how I could get the better of him?  Did being a Christian make any difference to the way I lived my life?  Was I getting to know God?  Did I love being in His presence?

I was struggling badly. 

I had left the church I had joined.  No one came looking for me.  There was a small Methodist chapel within walking distance.  I went there one Sunday.  A small elderly lady took me home for lunch and asked me all those questions no one else had asked.

Every Sunday, for over a year, she asked them until she got the answers she was looking for.

The ears and I have been led into the world of hearing loss gently and easily.  Someone has asked questions and shared their own solutions.  My struggles have been mostly short lived.

I am becoming a small elderly (?) lady.  I can take you home to lunch after church and ask you questions …if you like.  I can share with you my own solutions… if you like.

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