Candida Crewe: ageing effect of deafness
Some years ago my father was biffed in the ear. He only knew his ear drum had been broken when he was next puffing away at a cigarette and smoke began to emanate out of the side of his head, which he found faintly dispiriting. He had the luck not to have become hard of hearing and never was, even by the time he died a few years ago, on his 72nd birthday.
My mother has not been so fortunate. She, too, has had her fair share of ear-biffing in her time. (I’ve often wondered how I managed to have two parents so careless in this, let’s face it, rather niche respect).
In the seventies, she had to have an operation to give her a sort of bionic inner ear to replace the broken bits. It has never been much cop. And in the other ear, she inherited a certain deafness from her mother and grandmother. All in all, aged seventy-five, she doesn’t hear much. The audiology department told her she wasn’t too bad but you could have fooled me, and indeed anyone within about a 60 mile radius of her booming television.
Her immediate family reckon she’s about 50% deaf. She was a great beauty in her youth, and with beauty comes a certain pride in one’s appearance, vanity, call it what you will. But she was fiercely resistant to hearing aids. And I mean fiercely. Refused to have anything to do with them for about ten years but, finally, after much tactful cajoling on behalf of her husband and two daughters, about two years ago, she relented.
She has had various sets, each one more unsatisfactory than the last: uncomfortable, unreliable (always breaking), the conduits of unfamiliar or irritating sound. All the hearing-aid cliches, indeed, set since the age of their invention. She never wears them. The awful truth is, we all wish she would because deafness is so ageing. Because she misses so much that there is to hear (conversation, especially, and usually always the best bits, namely the jokes). So it is she seems a little more gaga than she is. In reality, she’s not gaga at all (even though Gaga is the name used for her by her grandchildren). No, her mind is sharp as ever, but the missing of so much "bant", as her teenage grandsons are wont to refer to lively chat, means she loses out, and we lose something of her.
Time to comb Spring Chicken and find the products and information out there that is satisfactory. There must be some, but I guess that’s why SC exists. For people like me, my beloved deaf and stubborn mother’s daughter. To discover the nirvana in the hearing-aid world.
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