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But Your Hearing is Perfect

We’ve all talked on this blog about how different the perception is between viewing aids (better known as glasses) and hearing aids (better known as “my ears” by people wearing them, and as “prosthetics” by people seeing them). A few months ago we were on holiday at the beach — don’t let me get me started on Corsica, one of the finest places in the world. We spent two weeks there; every day we’d go to the beach and dive among schools of fish.

Blue Corsica

Without my hearing aids, discussions on the beach were some approximate gibberish mixed with outcries from happy children playing around, the buzz from some distant sea scooters, the splashes, the regular pounding of waves. In fact I heard less than half the conversations. But you know how beach conversations go: most of the time it’s more chit-chat than life-changing decisions, so I didn’t really mind and decided to let go. I love reading books on the beach anyway.

Of course, between the sand and the water, I did not wear my hearing aids a lot, except in the evenings, for apéritifs, a French habit of having small snacks, sausages, tomatoes etc. while drinking refreshments, where conversations go back to normal — as in “noisy” and “all at the same time.”

So. During the day, I only talked when directly addressed, had people repeat what they said, and because of the ambient noise, no one really noticed it had to do with me not hearing them well in the first place.

One day, a close member in the family says: “But your hearing is perfect, I can’t see why you would wear hearing aids.”

(Indeed my hearing is not that bad, I can live without hearing aids but at the price of exhausting my brain and ears because of the strain. Easy to do on holidays, because, as I just said, most conversation does not have to be listened to, and I overslept every day —ah, holidays!—, so I was well-rested and didn’t really need to receive accurate information as is the case in a usual workday.)

Somehow, I was shocked by her remark. It felt like I was wearing hearing aids to draw attention to myself, or to make people pity me, or whatever.

You know when people who wear glasses and go swimming take their glasses off? Everyone around them knows their vision is not up to par, but they also assume that close enough is good enough for this not-so-demanding moment. No one questions them wearing glasses later on in situations where they will be needed. Why would someone in my family decide for me how good or bad my hearing is?

This left me puzzled. I explained once again, patiently, where my hearing loss was, but felt, strangely, that something was wrong.

Have you also been through this kind of awkward moment?

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