This morning it was the day for Our Girl Nettie to have her hearing aid fixed down at Millsboro. We fight with hearing aids all the time — they don’t work. They do, but they whistle. By the way. Can someone tell me how anyone can bear to walk around wearing a hearing aid that is whistling and whistling and whistling?
I’ve been known to hear it going on and on from another part of the house and hope and hope she will fix it and finally, when I can bear it no longer, go to her and say, “Nettie, what’s wrong with your hearing aid?”
“I doan know. Is’s whis’lin,” she’ll say and begin to fumble around with it.
“Can you fix it?” I’ll ask hopefully.
“I doan know. Mebbe.” And she will turn it back a little and it will quiet down and that will be it for a few days.
Somehow she split the ear mold a some weeks ago and the tube wouldn’t stay in it. Because the tube wouldn’t stay in it, she often came to me for help, and we could pretty much keep it in and running. One morning when she hadn’t asked me for help get it in, she came to me and said, “I doan know wha’s wrong wif my hearin aid. It jus ain’ workin’.” I looked at it, and it didn’t look right the way it was in her ear, so I took it out for her. She had run the tubing into the little hole that opens into the ear canal, and then around, pinched it between the ear mold and her ear canal, and then up to the mechanical part. Of course she couldn’t hear a thing that way. It would have been more like using an ear plug than anything else. We got it arranged right and it worked again for awhile.
I never really know how to feel about Nettie’s hearing aids. They are a wonderful connection to real life for her, and make it possible for her to be a part of conversations and comforting exchanges and family living. But sometimes Nettie doesn’t see them that way. And when she is in a situation she would just as soon not be in, she will leave them out. Or, if she thinks I will call her on not wearing them, she will wear them, but turn them flat off. Like when she goes to church. Don’t ask me why, but she will almost never have them turned on at church. It isolates her and makes her feel out of it.
She says, “People jus’ talkin’ ’bout me anyways. That preacher jus’ sayin’ stuff all the time,” and nothing will change her mind. I have talked until I’ve run out of ideas but she is still so sure that everything said pertains to her and she isn’t about to hear it.
She is not nearly as paranoid as she was when she first came to us. I remember riding down the road and whenever we would see something that she didn’t think looked right (those round basketball type things on the electric wires, or the little round things by the traffic signals, or even people just going by in their cars) she would say, “I know it, Mar’ann! They’re jus’ takin’ my pitcher. Everywhere I go. People is watchin’ me an’ takin’ my pitcher.”
One day I said, “Nettie, if they are taking your picture, they are taking mine, too. ‘Cause I’m with you. You know what? You and I must be terribly important people for them to be taking our pictures all the time. I wonder what they are going to do with all those pictures.”
She pondered that awhile and it suddenly struck her funny bone. She giggled and said, “I doan know! All I know is they’re takin’ my pitcher.” But I could see she was thinking about it.
So I used that tactic each time she brought it up. “Yep,” I’d say when she complained, “It’s how we are, Nettie. You and me! So important that they’ve set up cameras everywhere just to see what we’re doing!” She would always giggle and gradually that little quirk has faded into almost non-existance.
Today we went on down to Millsboro, and the Audiologist was waiting for us. He put her new ear mold in and checked her hearing aid. “It’s been giving her some problems,” I said. “She complains that it cuts out on her and she can’t hear anything, and then it will come back on and do okay for a while.”
He checked it all over thoroughly, and listened to it with his stethoscope. “It’s working fine,” he said. “I don’t see anything wrong with at all.” He put it in, and adjusted it and asked her how it was.
“Is’s fine.” she said happily. “Works good.” We sat and talked just a bit more about billing and such and all of the sudden she said, “It isn’ right. Sumpin doan soun’ right.” She fingered the control, and he asked her a few questions. “It jus ain’ righ’ somehow,” she insisted. “I doan know how, but it jus’ doan soun’ righ'”
He patiently took it back out, rechecked it, found nothing wrong, put it back in her ear and asked her if it was better now. I could tell by the look on her face that she still wasn’t satisfied, but she said, “Is’s alrigh’. I can hear.” and we finished paperwork and got on the road to Milford. I took her to center, and then I came on home.
I’ve been thinking about selective hearing alot today, and thinking about how sometimes the very thing that is supposed to help me hear my brothers and sisters better becomes an ear plug — because I’m not using the tool correctly. I’ve pondered, too, the whole thing of just “turning it off” when I am in a situation where I’m uncomfortable. How often to I shut out the very words and conversations that would draw me in, fill up the empty places in my heart, make me feel like I belong? Simply because I am afraid? Or paranoid? Or because I want to hide?
And what makes me sometimes feel like someone is taking a picture of everything in my life to store for future use against me somehow, somewhere, some day, some way? I believe the sense that someone is watching is a very honest thing — because God is watching. As His child, that should give me courage and comfort and a sense of security. Not paranoia. And whatever self inflated images I may have of my own importance, my fellow men probably think of me a whole lot less often than I would imagine. This is good!
So I need to get those spiritual hearing aids in order and USE them. I need to polish my spiritual eye glasses and use my “prescription” Son glasses — to see life through His filter! I’m quite sure the problem isn’t with the equipment. I guess that means it resides with the user.