My First Hearing Impaired Lifehack

A doctor has confirmed what my wife and I suspected. My hearing is somewhat compromised. I believe that’s what he said, but I’m not sure that I caught every word. But I did catch that the doctor and audiologist both used the word impairment. Looking back on my career, which included more exposure to explosives than most people have, I guess this was foreseeable.

I’m not a candidate for hearing aids (image via

And we’ve already started making adaptations to help make this easier on us. My wife has been great about making sure she faces me when she speaks. And I’ve stopped trying to fill in the blanks when I miss a word or two; I ask questions to make sure that I understand.

I Heard Denial Was A River In Egypt…I Think That’s What They Said

I think saying that I have a hearing impairment is like saying that I’m an amputee because I pulled a muscle in my leg. I’d prefer saying that I miss a word here and there, but the medical folks have science and a cool graph to back them up on the impairment thing. So I’m denying my problem even as I make adjustments to accommodate it.

What makes it hard is that most of the time, I believe that I hear normally. But then we’ll be in a restaurant and my wife will ask “what’s the name of this song?” and I think “what song?”. It is in those moments that I realize there might be something to what the doctor said.

What’d he say? (image by macmanes CCbySA3.0)

So now I’m looking for things that’ll make life easier and safer for me. The other night, I unexpectedly found my first creative adaptation to this hearing situation.

It was close to lights-out time at my house. My wife and I were reading. Our cat, Boog, was half-asleep at our feet; he doesn’t like to read. Things were quiet and calm. Suddenly, Boog lifted his head, sat up and stared toward the window. “I wonder what that’s all about,” I said to my wife. “He heard that coyote outside,” she answered.

I couldn’t have told you there were coyotes outside our house that night, but four good ears said that there were. I didn’t hear a thing. When my wife said “there’s the howling again…and again”, I didn’t hear anything except the ringing sound I hear all the time.

I Say Lifehack, Like The Cool Kids

My doctor and his staff were great about giving me little tips like “try to be sure the person who is speaking to you is facing you” and “protect the hearing you have left”, but they left it up to me to discover a lifehack that could be critical to people who are dealing with hearing loss. I’m going to pass on what I figured out so that others with my condition can benefit from what I learned…before it’s too late.

Most of the hearing I’ve lost seems to be in the high range of sound.  Apparently that range includes the sounds that coyotes make. Even when they howl on a quiet night, I can’t hear coyotes.  That means that I’d be easy prey for a coyote…but I live with a cat. A cat who sits up attentively when he hears a coyote.

So, my handy tip (or, what the cool kids call a lifehack) for those like me who are coming to grips with a hearing impairment is to get a cat. While a house cat probably can’t stop a coyote attack, it will let you know when those predators are in the area so you can look after yourself.

My hearing loss isn’t the end of the world for me. I hope that, if you’ve just gotten similar news, you’re ok with it too. We’ve still got a lot of good years left in us. Let’s not be shy about asking people to repeat themselves if we don’t understand. Let’s protect what we’ve got left of our hearing. And for God’s sake, get yourself a cat; coyotes are everywhere and you’re no road-runner.


19 Comments on “My First Hearing Impaired Lifehack”

  1. Anonymous says:

    French, thousand Island or vinaigrette??????

  2. Queen says:

    Cats are all kinds of useful warning systems. Even when there ISN’T anything in the walls…or outside the door…

  3. mikegee64 says:

    Very simple solution: kill all coyotes in your area. Your hearing will be normal again

  4. Cats off some service after all, then.

  5. List of X says:

    Now the problem is keeping an eye out for a cat at all times, because they are even quieter than coyotes, and are rarely ever facing you.

  6. Betty says:

    As long as you can still listen to Bruce….

  7. I got hearing aids when I was 28. I claimed my husband was a friggen mumbler; he claimed I couldn’t hear. One day, on the way home from an amusement park, we decided to stop at the super store that has free hearing tests, which is not connected to reasons we were at the amusement park. Turns out, consonants are messy in my ear holes. Part of saving your hearing is stimulating the follicles that actually do sound stuff. It’s like ear exercises, no hand weights required. What this means is that you have to consistently wear your hearing aids and not just when you go to work or parties, which is what my grandma does, so who knows when she can hear and when she’s just smiling like a doof. When you first get them, to get used to them, you read aloud for 30 minutes each night (may I recommend Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal). When I first got my hearing aids, we tested them out at the store with the technician. I could hear the technician from really far away, even with my back turned, and I started crying. I was a bit freaked by a lot of stuff–did you know stores have ventilation systems that make sound?? did you know birds chip in real life and not just Disney movies???–and it could be overwhelming, but my life has dramatically improved.

  8. pegoleg says:

    Is it significant that both your wife and your cat can hear coyotes, but you’re only advocating the hard-of-hearing get a cat?

    I love your attitude about what had to be something of a bitter pill to swallow. To me, needing help with hearing is no different than needing help with vision, but I know a lot of people resist the idea.

  9. So many useful traits a cat has, including the know-how to train you to react when he reacts!

  10. quinnland23 says:

    I suspect the cat would have a similar reaction to the sound of a can-opener. The difference being she’d likely smother you with a pillow before alerting you to the can of tuna, thus making you easy prey for any coyote that may be passing by.

  11. […] covered table, looking around…thinking. Thinking about why I had to sit on the table for a hearing test. Thinking about how I hate tongue depressors. Thinking about the posters on the […]

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