Monday, October 10, 2011

I'LL BE CAREFUL WHAT I WISH FOR

There is an old saying that says be careful what you wish for because it might come true. I always thought it was a pretty dumb saying because I figured I’d never wish for anything I didn’t want to come true.

Well, I don’t think the saying is dumb any more...especially since my husband got his hearing aids last week.

In the past, every time he’d say, “Huh?” when I asked him something, I’d wish he could hear me better. And every time I had to repeat something a dozen times, I’d once again wish he could hear me better.

Well, now that he finally is able to hear me better, all I can say is having my wish granted isn’t exactly what I thought it would be.

The minute my husband put in his hearing aids for the first time last week, his eyes lit up and his mouth fell open. “Is this what everything is supposed to sound like?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “What does it sound like?”

“Jeez! You don’t have to yell!” he said.

“I’m talking in my normal voice.”

“Your normal voice is that loud?”

“Yeah, it got that way from having to yell all the time so you could hear me!”

Things only got worse after that.

First of all, he used to keep the volume on the TV cranked up to over 30. Even the neighbors could hear which shows we were watching. Now, with his hearing aids, he’s turned the volume down to about 10. It’s so low, I have to read lips just to watch my favorite programs.

And he’s hearing noises and sounds he’s never heard before.

“When are you going to get the dogs’ toenails clipped?” he complained the other night. “All of the clicking when they walk across the floor is driving me crazy!”

Before this, the dogs could have worn tap shoes and danced the La Bamba across the floor and he wouldn’t have heard a thing.

He also complains when I’m cooking.

“Have you always done so much pot banging and clanging when you’re cooking? You sound like the drummer in a heavy-metal band! And do you have to keep slamming the refrigerator door?”

Unfortunately, now when I mutter something under my breath, he actually can hear me.

But the hearing aids also have brought some unexpected perks. For one thing, he used to spend all day singing...loudly. He would choose a song the minute he got up in the morning, and then sing that same darned song all day long. A couple weeks ago, he sang “White Christmas” all day. Then a few days later, he sang “Bringing in the Sheaves” – except his version was “Bringing in the Sheep.” I tried to correct him, but he couldn’t hear me anyway.

The morning after he got his hearing aids, he got up and started singing, “Sugar, Sugar,” then stopped abruptly. I wondered if all of my wishing that he’d get a prolonged case of laryngitis finally had come true.

“You know what?” he said to me. “I always thought I had a great singing voice, like the next Sinatra. But now that I can hear myself so loud and clear, my singing really irritates me!”

“Welcome to my world,” I said.

In the past, he also had the habit of tapping on things. When he sat in his recliner, he’d pick up the first thing he could reach on the end table – a coaster, his prescription bottle, the remote control – and without even realizing he was doing it, would start tapping it against the table. I began to feel as if I’d married Woody Woodpecker.

When I’d tell him to stop before he drove me completely insane, he’d look at me as if I were weird and say, “How can you possibly hear such light tapping? I’m sitting right here doing it and I can’t hear it.”

Well, the minute he started tapping when he was wearing his hearing aids for the first time, the look on his face was one of complete shock. “Does it always sound this loud?” he asked.

“No, sometimes it’s even louder,” I said. “Kind of like an automatic weapon.”

But the best part is he can’t snack the way he once did. Potato chips and Cheetos always were his snacks of choice. Now, he hears the crunching in stereo in his head, and it drowns out his TV shows. Even when he turns down the volume on his hearing aids, he still can hear the crunching. So he’s been eating a lot fewer snacks. His blood, which is so high in cholesterol, it could be used as axle grease, is thanking him for it.

I’m learning that getting used to living with a man who now can hear after 10 years of not hearing, is really a challenge. I have to constantly remind myself to speak softer, not slam any doors, walk quietly and not bang the pots or pans when I cook. The other night, he even accused me of brushing my teeth too loudly.

“It’s a wonder you still have any enamel left on your teeth!” he said. “You sound like you’re scraping them with sandpaper!”

I feel as if I should wrap myself in head-to-toe foam rubber to muffle any sounds.

When he got the hearing aids, the audiologist told him that when he takes them out at night to be sure to keep them where our dogs can’t reach them, because to dogs, they’re as alluring as smoked piggy ears.

So if I ever get fed up with my husband nagging me that I’m too noisy, his hearing aids just might mysteriously disappear for a while.

I can always blame the dogs.

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