"I was ringing the doorbell. I left my house key in the house. Didn't you hear me?"
No. No, I didn't.
The doorbell is in the upstairs hallway. It's a terrible design for a house since most of our waking time is spent in the family room, which is downstairs AND at the back of the house, far removed from the doorbell. The dishwasher was running and the TV was on. I probably would've had a difficult time hearing anyone at my door under those circumstances, even if I weren't almost deaf. But considering I wasn't wearing my hearing aids while I was having my morning coffee, hearing the doorbell has become an impossibility for me.
It was a simple question, and innocent enough in it's intention. But, I really can't hear you. That's the reality that is so difficult to get used to for those who know me. I have lost that much hearing. I have a German Shepherd dog who does a good job of alerting me to these things when she's inside with me, but she isn't a constant companion. She likes to run in the yard -- she may need to run less and stay in the house more.
I worry a lot about whether I will be able to hear the doorbell. Or the telephone. Or the smoke alarm. Or even an intruder in my house. I am aware that there are many technological and electronic devices that I could wire my house with that would alert me when these things occur, but they are costly to purchase and install, and they tend to be rather institutional in design. Not necessarily what I want in my home decor. And I'm afraid it would serve as a constant, depressing reminder of what I will never have again.
...another thing lost along with my hearing: a certain amount of my sense of security and well-being. And my list continues to grow.
I can't hear the fire alarm at school, and I'm not sure if I am hearing the telephone or being alerted by my students that it is ringing. The intercom is difficult to hear and even harder to understand. I have no directionality, and I cannot tell from where sounds or voices are emanating. (The disorientation can be fierce at times.) I have lost much of the comprehension of my husband's speech, as well as my parents' voices over the phone, and television without captioning is a frustrating experience. I never listen to the radio or CDs. I don't even like to sing anymore. I've noticed I turn my "better" ear towards people who are talking to me now, and I am continually apologizing for asking them to repeat themselves. Last night at dinner, I finally told the waitress that I had no idea what she'd just said, so she said sympathetically, "Let me just point to it on the menu." I don't know if I was embarrassed, angry, or hurt by her response. All I know is that I didn't like how it made me feel.
"You're really sad, Mom," my daughter confided tonight. "You just shake your head and smile and say 'thank you' like you don't know what she is asking."
It's because I don't know what she's asking, I thought to myself. And it's getting harder to pretend that I do. I'm trying to be polite, but people are shaking their heads at me.
Maybe I should wear a sign on my forehead.