Wearing Assistive Devices for Hearing and Vision Loss

I want Dumbo's ears!

It is not because I want to fly away from the chaos and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hmmm... Maybe that is a good reason for wanting ears the size of wings.

The fantasy is that it would be easy for my poor ears to deal with all they must currently bear.

Life with a hearing aid

For almost 40 years I have worn a hearing aid. For twenty years it has been one in each ear. Now the power has been increased and that means a behind the ear model.

The new technology is terrific. With Bluetooth, I can get the audio from the TV directly into my ears. Same with the sound from my iPhone. I can even hit “find my hearing aid” on an app and the lost aid begins sending out a signal.

The ears' burdens

Of course, that is not the only thing my ears must carry.

  • A face mask. In this eight or is it 18th month of the pandemic, there’s the mask, cloth or paper, fixed or expandable strings, to protect me from those who might be carrying the virus. Of course, the masks worn by others makes it more difficult for me to understand what others are saying. More of that embarrassing need to ask that they repeat what they said. The normal tricks of lipreading don’t work if you can’t see someone’s lips. Mask means hearing aids.
  • Reading glasses to deal with post-cataract vision.
  • Strong sunglasses to protect my eyes from more damage.
  • A sunhat

Volunteering

As a volunteer at our local botanical garden, I’m in the sun for much of my four-hour weekly shift. Hat to protect vision and reduce the risk of skin cancer.

That means there’s a layer cake of things behind my ears and they are constantly getting tangled. Pull off the hat or the mask or the sunglasses and there goes a hearing aid. Am I going to give up anyone of the layers? I don’t think so.

Protecting my health

Hat and sunglasses are needed to protect my eyes and possibly slow the AMD. Hearing aids mean I can communicate with people and not feel isolated. Mask is protection against a virus that could kill me.

My husband jokingly suggested that I glue on a pair of Dr. Spock’s ears when I work as a volunteer gardener. I already look like one of the characters in the bar scene of the original Star Trek movie so why not.

There’s no easy solution. But then again, as a dear friend, a true Southerner, former first runner up in the Miss Vidalia Onion contest would say, “Honey, it ain’t cancer and nobody died.”

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