"Shut the &$^% up!" and "What did you say?" are the two phrases I say the most when I am home. Sounds like a contradiction, but I assure you, it is not. It wasn't always this way. Let me take you back a decade to when my hearing was normal and my house was quiet....
The year was 2007, my and my wife were living in a small house by the water in Bridgeport, CT with our 2 year old son and no pets. Outside the birds would be chirping, the water would be lapping at the shore and occasionally, a whimper would reach my ears from my son's bedroom down the hall. All normal, everyday sounds that rarely made me want to set fire to my house to listen to the soothing sounds of firewood crackling in the night. Then this happened...
The Triplets were born and they were always hungry or needed a diaper change and they let you know it. As they grew, you would think that maybe they would quiet down. WRONG! Now, 9 years later, in my new and larger home, I have children the ages of 12, 9, 9, & 9, a dog that barks at everyone who comes within a mile of my house, two cats who are way to vocal to be cats and even a bunny that grunts angrily if you pick it up. Bunnies aren't supposed to make any noise, but I guess in my house, he doesn't have a choice. Add to that the constant yelling by the beleaguered parents living here too, and you have a recipe for NOISE.
I know what you're thinking. Awww, how cute! What a lovely family you have full of love and hugs and happy memories! Ok, yes, there is that, but does love have to be so damn loud ALL THE TIME!
As I reread the last sentence, I came to the conclusion that I am now that old man that tells you to "get off my lawn" except that it is my own children I am yelling at.
The noise is a problem, especially at 7am on a Saturday when I'd love to sleep in but I can't because my children are fighting over who gets to pour the milk in their cereal first because waiting five seconds would be a tragedy. To add to the misery, I am losing my hearing and paradoxically, loud noise hurts more than it should, Combine that with the fact that my ability to make out speech is steadily decreasing and "What did you say?" has become my second most used phrase after "Shut the &*$^ up!"
Studies show that 1 in 8 people over the age of 12 have hearing loss in both ears and 2% of adults over 45 have disabling hearing loss. While I can't say my hearing loss is disabling, yet, it is fast approaching that level. I had a hearing test 3 years ago and the doctor told me I was a good candidate for hearing aids. I nodded along and told her I would schedule a follow-up exam then I ghosted her. I was 45 and the thought of wearing a hearing aid like some 80 year old man was just too much for my fragile ego to handle. Why do I need hearing aids, I thought to myself, when I can just turn up the volume on the TV and I can hear just fine. Fast forward three years and I can't watch TV without the close captioning turned on or I risk the wrath of my wife who literally can hear everything.
I mean the woman can hear a cricket fart from across the yard and I'm struggling to hear when my daughter tells me she loves me.
On top of needing captions and saying "WHAT" all the time, there are even more detriments to my growing disability. About a hundred times a day my wife yells at me for "not listening" to her. My wife is loud, like jet engine loud, especially if the kids are acting up, but she apparently only tells me important things with a whisper (that's my story, and I'm sticking to it) so I often don't hear what she says. I know, I'm a bad husband and I deserve to be flogged, but I am only NOT listening half the time and the rest of the time I didn't hear what she said. I deserve credit for listening at least 50% of the time, because as you men know, our wives only actually have something important to say about 5% of the time, so I am really husband of the year.
Honey, if you are reading this, remember, my blog is a humor blog and you being the butt of my jokes means that I love you.
On a serious note, hearing loss often leads to depression. One study found that 11.4% of adults with self-reported hearing impairment had moderate to severe depression, while a greater
percentage—19.1%—had mild depressive symptoms. That means that 30% of all adults with hearing loss are experiencing some level of depression. Depression is something men have a hard time talking about and an even harder time getting help with. Luckily, I'm part of the 70% that doesn't suffer from depression. I mean, does this look like the face of a depressed person?
No, of course it doesn't. It may be the face of a man who is violently constipated or perhaps a man who inadvertently stepped on a lego, or a man harassed by his wife for the 101st time about how he doesn't listen, but depressed, no way. I don't want to talk about it, besides, I can't hear you nagging me to get help.
You might wonder why so many people with hearing loss just don't get a hearing aid? About 75%
of seniors go without hearing aids, not because of the social stigma a younger person with hearing loss might feel, but simply because of the exorbitant cost. The cheapest hearing aids with the lowest grade technology cost between $1,500 - $2,000 dollars, and to make matters worse, they make you look like Lobot from Cloud City in Star Wars. The small, unobtrusive hearing aids with the best technology - and lets face it, the better the technology, the better you can hear which is the point - cost upwards of $7,000!! Health insurance won't pay for hearing aids so you are on your own unless we ever get Universal Healthcare in this country, but that is the subject of another blog.
So while I save up for my future Lobot headgear, I'll leave you with the moral of the story: If you find yourself in my house, shut the &$^ up and speak louder. I'll be hiding in my office with a pint of Ben & Jerry's in one hand and a pint of beer in the other, not because I'm depressed, but because my house is too damn loud and I don't want to hear what anyone has to say anyway, Oh, and get off my lawn!!