DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Can You Hear Me Now

My grandfather, Hans Vorland, 1865-1930, had exceptionally keen hearing. My dad said he “could hear through the walls,” much to the dismay of the mischievous Vorland children.

But in his 50s, Hans became nearly deaf.

I noticed a diminution in my own hearing at about the same age, raising the possibility I had inherited the trait. I ignored it for years but eventually sought treatment.

An audiologist in Grand Forks, N.D., said there was indeed a loss, more than likely genetic in nature.

But she added the hunting I had done in my earlier years — as well as repetitive target practice without ear protection — were also factors.

She wondered too if my loss had been worsened by working in a very noisy environment.

No problem there — one of the goals I accomplished early was to make my living behind a desk.

So, I bought my first set of hearing aids.

At first, the instruments operated well enough but required tedious maintenance. A couple of years ago, one of them quit working and I lost the other.

I decided to “tough it out” without them.

But there was a price to pay, I learned, such as annoying people with expressions such as “what?” “huh?” “say again?” “répétez s’il vous plaît?”

Worse yet, not responding to them at all. The occasional nasty reaction to that taught me that some people lack any empathy whatsoever to another person’s hearing problem.

I missed being able to hear clearly the sounds of nature: birds, wind blowing through the trees, distant thunder, the falling rain. And not getting the most from what was said, played or sung on the stage and concert hall and in movies.

The only answer — my partner Dorette helped me to arrive at this conclusion — was to invest in a new set of hearing aids.

I’m wearing them as I write this. It’s amazing how loud the keystrokes sound. I’m pleased with the technology improvements, ease of use and, of course, the results of wearing them.

True, they ARE expensive. The $1,733.99 I coughed up could have purchased an airline ticket from Minneapolis to Paris and back. As they say in France, “Beaucoup d’argent.”

But worth every penny.

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