Gael Hannan on What I Would Like to Hear This Christmas

December 19, 2011 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research, Uncategorized
What I Would Like to Hear This Christmas

By Gael Hannan, Healthy Hearing Matters, December 6, 2011

Dear Santa,

How are you? I’m sure you’re busy and this is a long letter, so I’ll get to the point.

I have hearing loss, which causes a few communication issues at this time of year, as you can imagine. Well, maybe you can’t imagine, because you don’t have hearing loss. So, let me tell you about my challenges and why I’m asking for your help again.

Santa, at this time of year, it’s hard to hear. The holidays are noisy with all the festivity, parties, concerts, music and crowds of people. People get excited, making them louder and sometimes less intelligible. I have to work harder to hear and understand, causing more stress in a season that’s already emotional.

I want more from the holidays than just great turkey and looking my best sparkly-glam self. I want to ‘hear’ more; I want to get rid of those communication barriers that can leave people like me – people with hearing loss – out in the cold.

So, here are my challenges and some solution gifts.

One: At Christmas Eve dinner, we have 12 people sitting at the long oak table. It’s beautiful, but I have difficulty following the conversation with its chaotic, overlapping snippets of talk. And I don’t care if the chit-chat is trivial, that’s part of the fun! I want to choose what’s worth listening to and I don’t want my conversation limited to the person sitting beside me.

So, could you bring me a round dining table, so I can see and communicate with everyone? If a round table won’t fit on the sleigh, could you bring my husband a band saw and some industrial glue? We’ll cut off the corners, round-off the edges, and create a big, beautiful, communication-rich table!

Two: After the big turkey dinner, we all sit around the living room and the jokes fly, thick as the snow outside. I would love to get the punch lines in real time, not repeat time. If I could laugh in the right place at the right time for the right reason….well, I almost can’t imagine the joy of it.

But I’d like to try, so how about a conference table microphone for the coffee table? I’ll wear my neck loop which will suck everyone’s voice into my hearing aids. I may not hear myself speaking too well, but there’s a great opportunity for your techno-elves, to make an even better system for next year. And if you bring it, I’ll pretty up the table mike with some holly; I don’t want to hide my hearing loss, I want to show it off to my family and friends.

Three: Sometimes, to get some fresh air, we go outside to make snow angels and take a walk under the night stars. I don’t mean to whinge, but when we’re all walking in the same direction, in the dark, it’s not exactly speechreading heaven. But last year I didn’t say anything to the others, just to myself, “Shh, don’t break the spell of the moment.”

But this year, I would really appreciate a personal FM system. That way my husband and I can walk and talk and create some new spells.

Four: This last one may be beyond your powers, Santa. When I was little, I asked my father each year what he wanted for Christmas. He always answered ‘peace and happiness for the whole wide world’ and I would laugh at my silly daddy.

But now it’s me asking for something as big as that.

So many people with hearing loss live in a fog of denial and anxiety. They lack information and financial resources. Could you give them – these friends I don’t know yet – something they really need such as the courage to speak up and say, “I have hearing loss?”

In their stockings or mailbox, perhaps you could drop a pamphlet about support organizations such as HLAA, CHHA, ALDA, AG Bell, and NAD or CAD?

And finally, maybe you could put your weight behind our drive for more accessibility and affordability in the world of hearing health?

Thank you, Santa. I know I’ll always need technology to hear well and that’s ok, although I still dream about waking up in the morning to the sound of birds, or being able to hear my child or husband whispering to me in the dark.

And who knows, this may yet happen. As a child, I was told that hearing aids would never help me, and now I have them and they connect me to the world. It’s a modern miracle.

I’m sure you helped with that, Santa. This is why I’m asking again.

With affection,

Gael

ps: Safe travels – and make sure you trim your mustache before talking to children with hearing loss!