On December 27, 2013, I took this photo for my 365 (day 317 of my fourth year doing the 365days self-portrait project). The bit in italics is the caption of the photo over on Flickr.
The title of this photo is: "Say hello to my little friend... no, really, say hello!"
This little guy is a Liberty ENG 32. I've been shopping around for a while, looking for a hearing device that I can afford and wear (because of the whole "sweat like crazy at the faire all summer" thing)... and here it is.
The big surprise for me was that I actually got to walk out wearing it! I expected to have to order it, wait a couple weeks, go back in... but no! Hearing aid technology has advanced to the point where you can get an affordable, reliable hearing aid basically "over the counter".
I can hear EVERYTHING!
I don't think I've stopped smiling yet!
Here are a couple blogs from June where I discussed the doctor visits- "What? WHAT?! I CAN'T HEAR YOU... no, really, I can't hear you" and "Let Grammy Patty get her ear horn..."
So, lemme tell you how this month has gone. Right after I got this way-awesome hearing aid, I caught a cold- my first cold in years. How many? I don't know, but the Nyquil I had in my cabinet was almost empty and in its expiration month. And the Disabled Guy was the last one who needed it. I can't remember having a cold for the last three or four years, at least.
So, after I recovered from my head and chest cold (it took three days before I felt fine and another two or three days to shake the last of the cough- I have asthma), I was able to start wearing it again. The thing I was looking forward to most was listening to music.
Did you know that when you listen with headphones/earbuds, you don't hear everything through both sides at the same time? Because I didn't. Being born deaf in one ear, I had no idea what "in stereo" was or how it was supposed to sound. In fact, till I was a teenager, I had no idea what was going on. It was in listening to Queen with those giant padded headphones that I realized something was amiss. Except that's just how it is... part of the sound comes through the right, part through the left. And sometimes, its through both... I really don't understand why. An audiophile would know what I was trying to say, probably even tell us the fancy-schmancy words for it.
Anyway, I rarely use headphones because it isn't good for your hearing and when I DO, I listen with it low enough to hear outside noises- or, you know, I used to- because my hearing is so damaged that I can't hear much of anything in general. (I used to wear headphones when I did my four-miles-a-day walk early in the morning and my volume was so low that I could hear traffic. Despite having first a Rottweiler and then a German Shepherd with me, I didn't want people to sneak up on me!).
But, let me get back to this little guy... I love a band called Steam Powered Giraffe. They have amazing harmonies and their vocal ranges are astounding. I would equate David Bennett's vocal range to Freddie Mercury (David plays "The Spine" in SPG). He can go way, way low and then give you an aural wedgie and crank it up to almost-shrieking-girl high. Don't believe me? Watch this video- "Me and My Baby (Saturday Night)" or his awesome cover of Rihanna's "Diamonds". If you're a fan, then you know. If you're not a fan, well, you should listen to "Go, Spine, Go" and hear that note he hits at the end.
Okay, let me take a breath... this is about how I can hear them now and not my total adoration of David "The Spine" Bennett's voice. And let me add- that's not to say that Bunny Bennett (who plays "Rabbit") and Sam Luke (who plays "Hatchworth") and Michael Reed (who plays everything) aren't fabulous and have great voices- they do. Here, watch this video too- "Hatch Fever" and listen to Sam's voice when he hits that note (you'll know which one).
Okay, okay... let me move on (again)...
So, here I am, sitting down and actually listening with my hearing aid- by the way, his name is Merc, for "Mercury"- and I actually get to hear them. I can tell Rabbit's voice from The Spine's, for starters. Unless the notes are super-low, then I'm not always sure if it is Rabbit or The Spine. Rabbit can get that low (like at the beginning of "Hatch Fever"), but doesn't do it very often. So, I can tell the Bennetts' singing voices apart now (they're twins, by the way, David and Bunny). I can hear the harmonies. Oh my sweet mechanical overlords- the harmonies!!!! This is what you guys have been hearing all this time? I thought they were awesome when I was only hearing half of what they actually are... I- I really don't have the words to describe how amazing their voices sound to me now.
At the end of "Mecto Amore", they're all singing the words "Mecto Amore", but they're doing it all different, over each other's voices. And I never heard David/The Spine in the background with that damn deep voice of his. The chorus through the song- I... had... no... idea.
In the last month, I've listened and re-listened to as much music as possible. And I've got a TON of music in the last couple of years. Not just SPG, but Amanda Palmer, Panic! at the Disco, Lake Street Dive, Flo Rida... so many more that I can't think of right off the top of my head. And sometimes, while I'm listening, I'm moved to the point of tears. I was missing so much. I was missing so much and had no idea. Perfectly content to sit here, oblivious to what truly amazing sounds I was missing.
The other day, I was in the grocery store and while I've been to the store since I've had Merc, this particular day seemed noisier than usual. It was a little crowded and when that's the case, when I get in line, I'm mindful of blocking traffic. People often end up approaching on my deaf side (not their fault, obviously) and I don't realize they're there till they nudge me. Well, now I can hear them approaching. And I was standing there in line, hearing people talking, carts rattling, the registers beeping, and the music over the intercom. Now, I knew they had music, but I had no idea it was a radio station. I thought it was just some weird "play music in the store" loop thing. But I could hear the DJ's voice and other radio noises. I ended up talking to the guy in front of me about how noisy the store was and how tickled it made me to just stand there and listen.
I end up walking around with a goofy-ass grin on my face because I can hear so much. And sometimes, I gotta wonder, how the hell you normal people can do this all the time. I know I'll get used to it (apparently, you have to re-train your brain to deal with all the noise), but there's just so much day-to-day noise. Today, I learned that the "high wind advisory" we were having was real without having to look out the window. I could hear the wind whipping against my house. Of course, when I walked outside, all I could hear was the wind whipping through the hearing aid.
But so far, there hasn't been any downsides. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some music to listen to and grin like a doofus about.