Being Thankful

I’m thankful I can see and hear, having experienced a bit of blindness and deafness in the last few months. Skip this if you don’t want to read about some joys and drawbacks of aging.

We went to a Twelfth Night concert on Sunday afternoon at Lake Junaluska, the Methodist conference center near us. Our new church music director invited us, and we enjoyed hearing her sing with the Asheville Symphonic Chorus accompanied by a harp. This was the first time I heard live music while wearing hearing aids. It seems every new situation is an eye-opener, or in this case, ear opener. The sound was very loud to me, though I saw no one else cringe. I’ve always thought a harp was soft, struggling to be heard over the sound of an orchestra, but this harp never sank below the singers. David could empathize. He has extremely sensitive ears, so the music assaulted his ears, too. John asked me the practical question – couldn’t you have turned down the volume of the hearing aids? I never thought of it, wanting to experience the music as it really was.

I never realized people need time to adjust to hearing aids. My deafness was not profound, yet I had to get used to hearing things differently. The “s” sounds in people’s speech sizzled. Running water seemed loud, out of proportion to everything else. I discovered my camera whirred when turned on. Those were things to be thankful for.

I am still learning when to change the wax guards. On the way to meet friends for dinner, I realized I couldn’t hear out of one ear. Back home, I removed the aids and felt oddly unbalanced the rest of the evening. For me, having input from both sides of my head is important. I remember my dad standing before the big wall clock, setting the volume on his aids. He knew if he could hear the clock, he would be able to hear people. My test is touching the hair over each ear. If it doesn’t sound like two pieces of paper rubbing together, I need to check it. I’m grateful for having found this routine.

I continued to struggle with eyesight after fluid leaked into the retina of one eye. The retina specialist immediately began a series of injections, and I’ve just had the evaluation. (Many thanks to neighbor Shawn for driving me to that appointment. John was having a heart scan in Asheville at the same time.) Dr. K seemed a bit disappointed that I hadn’t noticed much improvement. He looked at the computer screen again and found the answer. There was dramatic improvement after the first injection and not much change over the next few months. Good to know! I needed to be told I had something to be thankful for. We will continue injections at six week intervals. After three, he will evaluate the eye again. If all is well, the next set will be two months apart. He said it is safe for me to drive again.

As I walked toward the living room, I could see ornaments on the floor. Either Sadie’s tail knocked them down, or they fell off the wilting branches. I’m thankful I see well enough to avoid objects at unexpected places before stepping on them.

Reading is still difficult. One eye sees things at normal size, and the dominant eye shrinks the image about 25%. They are fighting each other. Evidently, my brain has adjusted to this when viewing things at a distance. John pointed out that prescription reading glasses could correct that. I’m happy there is a question I can ask next time.