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A Piece of My Mind
October 13, 2010

Sounds of My Father

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2010;304(14):1535-1536. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1404

I am sitting in my audiologist's office getting fitted with my first pair of hearing aids. “Illene, welcome to the world of sound!” As the module linked to my audiologist's laptop computer blinked green, my ears received the static whoosh of the ambient room noise—sounds that they no longer received on their own. A pounding heart synchronized with my first experience with these devices inserted in my ears. I’m not sure I am happy about this.

I finally gave in to my hearing loss on my 59th birthday. I certainly knew my hearing was going—I had been asking everyone around me to repeat what they said and witnessed their frustration when I still couldn't make out their words. It is not only the volume that is critical, but the articulation of sputters and clicks of syllables makes it difficult to distinguish “please” from “tease.” So when I replied with that all too familiar “What?” my family rolled their collective eyeballs and then repeated themselves, louder but not more clearly. And then I would put on my stupid smile, say “Yes,” and hope that I was not agreeing to something I would seriously regret later on.