Charles Lamb: Did you really say what I heard you say? - The Buffalo News
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Charles Lamb: Did you really say what I heard you say?

Many of us older folks have suffered some hearing loss. Despite use of the best hearing aids, there are still problems. You have to have a sense of humor to survive. So does your family.

When I first was tested for my hearing the doctor drew a line for me on a chart. He said, “Above the line means your hearing is normal. Below means it is deficient. You are right on the line. So it is up to you what to do.”

I said I thought I’d wait for awhile. Then the doctor asked me if I had trouble hearing on the phone? In meetings? In conversations?

I answered “No” to all of those questions. “So when do you have trouble hearing? “ he asked.

“At home,” I replied. “Oh, of course!” he said. “Wives or husbands are the worst! They talk to you from the next room, or with a TV blaring in between you, or with their back turned. Man, you don’t have a hearing problem, you have a marriage problem. Tell your wife to speak up!”

So I went home determined to do that. It so happened that my wife had been having a problem with hoarseness and she had been to her doctor that same day. When I arrived home she told me, “The doctor says I have a polyp on my vocal cord so I must lower my voice and whisper until it heals.”

What do you do but laugh?

Later I did need hearing aids and we soon learned that it isn’t often a lack of volume that causes misunderstandings. It is lack of distinctness. “P” and “B” and “D” and “T” can sound alike so you have to play detective to figure out what the person said.

One day my wife asked me (from the next room) “Is Kelly out?” Kelly was the name of our dog. I thought she said “cloudy” so I looked out the window and told her, “Partially.” She came into the room with a puzzled look on her face. “And what part of her is outside?”

I have a friend who also has hearing aids. We were in a meeting the other day dealing with an important community issue. One person said “We need to get faith leaders involved.” He wanted me to get the local clergy group to take a stand.

My friend looked puzzled but didn’t say anything. After the meeting he asked me, “Why is he talking about faith healers?”

The person I know with the worst hearing wears large hearing aids that fill his entire ears. Once at a party a little boy asked him a question and he could not understand it. “Sonny, say it again.” The little boy repeated the question three or four times. Finally my friend said, “Sonny, we’ll just have to give up. I have poor hearing and I can’t understand you.”

With a puzzled look the boy replied, “Then why in the world do you wear ear plugs?”

I heard a story once about a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. The old man wasn’t a speaker, but the crowd insisted he say a few words. He said, “All I can say is, ‘The old woman here, she’s tried and true.’ ”

Unfortunately she didn’t hear well and misunderstood, so she retorted, “Oh yeah? Well, I’m tired of you, too!”

Hearing loss is a handicap and one can become distressed. But what can you do about it? It is what it is.

Don’t curse your fate, just laugh about it. That’s the best way to deal with such problems.

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