May was a big month. My check-off list:
✓ Found driver’s license that had disappeared three months ago
✓ Blue auto registration tag came, stuck atop the eight others
✓ New passport arrived, not that I plan to wander away
✓ Renewed driver’s license: test, photo, 15 pounds wider (whoo boy)
✓ Renewed real estate license: 36 years active, okay for 4 more
✓ Yearly physical and skin cancer screening: so far, so good
✓ Dental check-up: no cavities, awarded new purple toothbrush
✓ Had mammogram: girls are fine, both of them
✓ Got hearing eggs: WAIT! WHAT? Back up a minute…
For some time now my hearing has been off. I found out three years ago when I had it checked. I received a birthday card from a local hearing clinic with a $25 gift certificate and figured if someone wanted to give me $25, I was in, and while I was there, they could test my auditory faculties. I thought my hearing was fine. After they tested, I was told I had 50 percent hearing loss, and that I needed hearing aids.
I neck-snapped, “WHAT? I need hearing eggs?” For the next few days I paid attention and they were correct, I couldn’t hear, or misheard, a lot of what was going on. Funny how we don’t notice when we’re going blind or deaf. My health insurance covered my cataract surgery but didn’t cover hearing eggs, which were $6,000 a pair. I told them to forget it; I’ll learn to read lips. For $6,000 I could buy a boatload of cowboy boots, kitchen gadgets, and chocolate chip cookies.
At the Thursday morning real estate meeting, before being informed that I was half deaf, I stood and was making an announcement on the microphone.
Felice, sitting across the room, hollers, “Nice hair.” Before she came into real estate she owned a hair salon and cut my boys’ hair and mine.
I put the mic closer to my mouth and said, “Can you hear me now?”
She said again, “I said, ‘Nice hair.’”
I reposition the mic and say, “NOW can you hear me?” The whole room is laughing, except me.
“I can HEAR you fine. I said I liked your HAIR.”
“Oh. Thanks,” and I do a shout out for Kristin, whom I’ve been going to for the past twenty-some years.
Linda, my business partner, had noticed my hearing loss for a long time; she said I was forever asking people to repeat themselves or to turn up the volume, but had never said anything to me about it. Or if she did, I didn’t hear her.
It came to a head when I was at Dan’s country listing and he said the septic tank had a crack in it. I’m puzzling over how in the heck a truck got in the tank, and just how they planned on getting it out. I said, “That was either a pretty big tank or a pretty small truck.” Out loud.
And I laughed at Barbara a few nights before when she was asked at dinner how her salmon was and she said he’s good, he left about a half hour ago, referring to her son. It was probably her son who drove the truck into the tank.
After the tank conversation, I surrendered. I had my hearing tested at Costco. Johnnique told me I had mild to moderate loss, and that I mishear a lot of consonants. Like that was news. I didn’t tell her about the truck. So I bought a pair. What’s it like to hear again? Well, it’s like having cataract surgery: everything I see is once again bright and clear, as is everything I now hear, like my breathing, my chewing, and the slap-slap of my flip-flops. The really disconcerting part is I also hear my own voice, which sounds echoic and tinny. Johnnique said it won’t be as irritating when my brain gets used to it. If it doesn’t, well, I probably talk too much anyway. The devices Bluetooth to my phone, which is also how you adjust them, except now my phone rings in my ear. This should be great fun as I’m already as jumpy as a water bug. She said I’d get used to that too.
Along with being weary of looking like a half-wit, I made the leap because the cost was down from $6,000 three years ago to less than a third of that today, which I was willing to shell out. We can use part of my savings to haul the truck out of that tank, buy ourselves a salmon dinner, and have plenty left over for a new pair of cowboy boots, a Cuisinart, and a couple chocolate chip cookies.