You don’t know what you are missing!

We use that title phrase, “You don’t know what you are missing” for just about everything we want someone else to try who has not experienced the wonder of a certain luscious chocolate, a notable restaurant, a favorite TV show, musician, skydiving, etc. When someone has not experienced what someone else considers wonderful it is a natural reaction to urge them to do so because they “don’t know what they are missing!”

Hearing loss takes from a person the ability to know the quality of hearing they are missing. When they can’t hear they can’t know what they are missing and cannot comprehend what they have been missing until they experience life amplified through hearing aids.

One of the joys every hearing aid dispenser thrives on is the after comments of patients who rediscover what they were missing. Each of us who sell hearing aids has a file and memory bulging with these kind of comments but I will share a few of mine. One woman called my house about an hour after having her hearing aids to tell me she tracked down a suspicious motor sound to her own air conditioning unit in her living room. She laughed that something so obvious now could have been unnoticed just hours before. Or the patient who told me a week later that her TV volume went from 40 to 19! In my own hearing loss, I cannot hear the birds, crickets or peepers outside my living room window without my hearing aids. When I insert the aids, those little creatures leap back into my hearing ability.

There are times we enjoy the solace of silence. One of my previous hearing aid offices was inside a large warehouse store. It was a challenge to fit and adjust hearing aids in a place with so much background noise. I would typically take refuge in the sound booth when babies started crying at the checkout lanes and was usually relieved to be on the way home in the quiet of my car at the end of the day. There are some sounds we don’t want to hear, but more often than not we need to hear the sounds of life that we are missing.

Most important in the context of not knowing what you are missing are the speech sounds of family, friends, and co-workers. In spite of the many jokes about a male patient not wanting to hear the voice of his wife or mother-in-law, we need to hear what people are saying around us and to us.

Helen Keller was blind and deaf. She was once asked which of the two was more difficult. She said, “Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people.”

Hearing loss is primary a “people issue”. It is not just missing nature sounds or the squeak of a certain rocking chair. It is being in the dark about what people who love us are trying to say to us so that we may share heart, life, and thoughts with them. Our families don’t want us to miss that richness and depth of the relationship. They want us to not only know what we are missing but not be missing it anymore.

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Jeffrey L. Bayliff, NBC-HIS, is owner if Hear the Birds Hearing Aid Center, Lock Haven.

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