The dog ate my hearing aids
9th July 2008
My earliest memory is wearing aids for the first time. I'm a toddler, running around at home, and something keeps getting put in my ears. It's annoying. I take them off and keep playing. They get put in again. I take them off again. I hide them around the house. Mum finds them. I hide them… she finds them. I hide them… well, you get the idea.
A few days later I decide to flush them out of my life forever. Literally. I go to the toilet, sit there a while, then when I'm done, I put my hearing aids down the bowl - which, er, hasn't been flushed yet. Mum comes in just as I'm about to flush them away, and gets incredibly angry with me. She fishes them out and spends a long time, a very long time, scrubbing and washing her hands. I guess I probably cried at that point, and that's where the memory ends. Since I'm still wearing them, I guess Mum won that match by a narrow score.
As glad as I was that they survived, it's fair to say I've got a love-hate relationship with my little electronic mates.
On the plus side, I understand the world through them - voices, music and sounds. I feel naked when I'm not wearing them. Having said that, I should make it clear that walking around in only my hearing aids wouldn't exactly make me feel clothed.
On the negative side, technical imperfections mean that even the latest digital models struggle to pick out voices when there's a lot of background noise. The other hindrance is feedback which occurs regularly when ear moulds come loose for whatever reason; sound escapes and feeds back into the microphone, creating a whistling noise which sends a shiver down my spine.
We've shared too many important moments for me to say that love ain't part of this relationship. They are constant, yet imperfect, companions. Girlfriends, friends, homes and jobs have been and gone, but still my hearing aids remain.
Brilliantly, they also help me to meet other deaf people. Since they're visible, I often get tapped on the shoulder by another deafie on the tube, and find myself signing away to my new friend for the rest of the journey.
Six months ago, in a nod to fashion, I got a swish pair of see-through plastic covers for the aids, which reveals all the intricate circuitry and wiring underneath. I strolled around feeling all bionic and cool - that was before Scruffy came to stay.
I'm guessing that as I put my hearing aids down before my shower, they'd let off a dog-seducing high-pitched squeal which started Scruffy's tail wagging. For him, it was playtime. A playtime which consigned me to lip-reading frantically for the best part of a week afterwards.
Nowadays, if Scruffy's staying, I make doubly sure my oldest friends are safe, switched off and on a high shelf. I get him happily fed and locked away before leaving my hearing aids unattended.
Some people say a dog is a man's best friend. Well, it happens that a dog ate my best friends. So from now on, I'm not taking any chances. And Scruffbags, if you're out there: watch out for your favourite squeezy rubber Frisbee. My bionics and I are out for revenge ...
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