Do Hearing Aids Laugh?

June 5, 2012 in Technology
By Bill Williams, The Gaston Gazette 4/7/2012

I went to a funeral the other day, sat down, got comfortable and my hearing aid blasted a warning in my ear: “THE BATTERY’S GOING DEAD! THE BATTERY’S GOING DEAD!”
Do hearing aids laugh?
Do they jump up and down in a fit of maniacal pleasure, knowing full well that they have you in a bad situation and that there is nothing in the world you can do about it?
I have a hearing aid that does just that. In fact, I have two hearing aids, both restless. Fortunately, however, they do have a tender streak. They almost never act in unison.  
I approached this column with my central nervous system somewhat in disarray. I just came from dinner where we had a very nice time with two other couples. Six of us. The other five could hear. I sat there with a look of expectation on my face, probably, and the others had their lips flapping, one set at a time, interspersed, periodically, with bursts of laughter.
What had happened, of course, is that things were going along well until after we all said “hello.” It was then that my No. 1 hearing aid decided to call in dead.
It wouldn’t have mattered if No. 2 had notified:  “DEAD BATTERY! DEAD BATTERY!”  If you are No. 2, you live and die by No. 1’s instructions.   Number 2 could take a walk, and we keep on talking, but just one ear is listening.
When No. 1 goes out, you are a dead dog. Lost in silence.
That’s what I get for letting that basketball hit me on my left ear when I was in the eighth grade. Yeah, it was an accident, but it blew a hole in my eardrum about the size of a foot-long hotdog.
I was 12 at the time, and nimble. That day, I went home with a roaring in my ear that was quite upsetting. It sounded like an upset army of ants had just been informed that their hearing aid batteries were going out.
Did I tell my parents that everything wasn’t quite cool? I did not. They wouldn’t have understood, anyhow. Back then, “cool” meant cool – and not what it means today, whatever that is.
I never went to a doctor but kept urging my good ear to do a better job. And, it did, I think. I figure I looked a bit weird every time somebody on my right side said something and my head automatically did a 180 to pick up the right message coming in from left field.
Down through the years, my right ear – with no eardrum – could hardly get worse. It was already bad.  It also could come in for some pretty important decisions. For instance, when the Air Corps medics checked my crippled ear in 1944, they said, “Sorry, pal, but there will be no flying for you.”
That was not good news. The good news came two weeks later when my name came up for overseas shipment. They needed quick typists over there, and I could make smoke come from a typewriter. Somebody got to the page that said “BAD EARDRUM,” and held up his hand. No can go, they said.
I did a little two-step dance and went skipping out the door.
I don’t want to give you too much to consider, but let’s fast-forward here a bit.
It is 1960ish and I have been with The Gazette for a dozen years or more. I still have that hole in my head and now and then it talks back. I go to Charlotte and Dr. Beverly Armstrong takes a small membrane from behind my ear and plops it in where it is supposed to be. And, it works. I can hear out of that ear – not 100 percent, but maybe 70.
For five years, it works rather well; but then it gives up and calls it a day. I give up, too, and settle for a hearing aid.
That’s why I am so grouchy most of the time.
Especially at meals when I can’t look and hear at the same time.
Lip reading is out. People don’t talk much with food in their mouth.
Have a nice day.