Listening’s hard when you’re hard of hearing

Published 12:54 pm Thursday, September 1, 2016

There is a reason I wrote “Lions learn about hearing” in Wednesday’s edition. Through the story, you learn what the Farmville Lions Club did: Longwood Speech, Hearing & Learning Services is a very special place.

The Lions contacted me almost three weeks before the tour, hoping to have a reporter join them. I told them I’d do it myself — not because I didn’t trust anyone else to do it; we have great reporters — for completely selfish reasons.

You see, I’m hard of hearing, too.

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I was born completely deaf in my left ear, likely the result of my mother contracting German measles (rubella) while pregnant with me. She didn’t realize it until I was 3 years old, when she called me for dinner and couldn’t get me to respond. She was on my left side; I couldn’t hear her.

I occasionally wore cross-aids — wire around my neck with a receiver on my left ear and the actual aid on my right. They were uncomfortable and confusing, actually.

From my mid-teens to my late 20s, I worked as a radio announcer. During those 14 years, I damaged the hearing in my good ear by listening to music, loudly, on headphones or through large studio speakers. I lost a good deal of my high-frequency response and, therefore, have trouble discerning soft consonant sounds: ch, th, ph and so on. Even with a clarifying hearing aid, I can have a great deal of trouble understanding what someone’s said on the first try, especially in noisy situations.

So, protect your hearing and get checked out. If you think you have a hearing loss, don’t wait to have an exam. Get help, get hearing aids and wear them. It could change your life for the better.

Martin L. Cahn is managing editor of The Farmville Herald. His email address is