What I Hear

Life with hearing loss

New Year's Resolution Paradox

Be more accepting, but don't stop lobbying for change.

It’s that time of year again. Resolutions!

When our kids were young we used to write secret wishes on slips of paper at New Year’s and then put them away for the next year. The person who wrote the wish got to open it to see if it had come true. They could share or not, depending on the wish and how much they wanted to divulge. Recently I came upon an envelope full of wishes. How sweet are the wishes of a six and nine year old (and what a reminder of the hot toys of 1993). I can see the good adults they grew into.

My wishes were always to amend some sort of reprehensible behavior. No more slamming doors! Shout at spouse only when truly called for. Be more tolerant of the slacker at work. You might detect a common theme here: control your anger.

My anger had a good deal to do with hearing loss, and no, I didn’t learn to control it till a good while later when I finally admitted to the world that I couldn’t hear. Once I stopped pretending to be normal, the relief of being myself washed away a lot of the rage. Not all of it, but much.

Some readers of this blog think I’m too negative, and so one resolution I have this year is to be more upbeat in my attitude towards hearing loss and the devices we use to correct it. I love my hearing aid and I love my cochlear implant. I wear them every day, every hour that I am awake. Without them, I wouldn’t have a life.

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But that doesn't mean there isn’t room for improvement. And I’m not going to stop lobbying for better hearing aids and better assistive devices, and by “better” I mean not just techonologically better for hearing but simpler to use and less prone to breakdown.

I’m not going to stop lobbying for prices that are more in line with other consumer electronics, and for health insurance coverage of hearing aids. I’m not going to stop lobbying for equal access for those with hearing loss – everywhere! Trains, planes, movies, places of worship, theater. And for that reason I’m not going to stop lobbying for openness and acceptance of hearing loss as something no more remarkable than the need to wear glasses.

If more of us acknowledged hearing loss, think of the pressure we could bear on the hearing aid companies, on the movie chains, on airplanes, on insurance companies, on the federal government to give us equal access to what others take for granted. There’s strength in numbers. So I resolve to be more upbeat, but not to stop griping. 

 

Katherine Bouton, a former editor at The New York Times, is the author of Shouting Won't Help: Why I—and 50 Million Other Americans—Can't Hear You.

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