I was 10 years old, my brother and I were sitting at the kitchen table on a beautiful Saturday morning while our dad was cooking breakfast, as he normally did on the weekends. I remember the scent of sausage frying in the skillet, he was making his famous biscuits and gravy. My brother and I were impatiently waiting for breakfast to be served so that we could go outside and play, when he caught a glimpse of a Volkswagen Bug driving by.
“Volkswagen” he said as he hit me really hard in the arm. My father looked over at us and yelled “There better not be any food fights!”
“Food fights?” my brother said, confused. We both looked at each other and thought, “how did he hear food fights from the word Volkswagen?”
As young as we both were, we couldn’t help but to giggle and it continued to be a family joke. What we didn’t realize at that time is that our father was suffering from undiagnosed hearing loss.
As time continued on, this type of occurrence would happen frequently. No matter what we said to him, he always heard something completely different. He would ask us to repeat what we were saying, we would repeat, and he still was not understanding the words we were speaking until we had to shout at him. I remember one time I came home from a friend’s house and the front door was locked. I recall beating on the door for 10 minutes straight for him to let me in, but he wasn’t able to hear the door because the TV volume was maxed out.
Every time we had a family gathering, my father couldn’t stand not being in conversation, however, nobody wanted to engage with him because, it would result in repeating ourselves multiple times, speaking louder than we wanted to speak, or him getting frustrated because he wasn’t able to understand the words coming out of our mouths. Finally, my father had his hearing tested by a hearing care professional, and it resulted in him getting prescriptive hearing devices.
He wished he wouldn’t have waited so long to be able to finally hear his friends and family again. He ultimately realized the stress and inconvenience he was putting his family through by not getting hearing help. He is finally able to contribute to conversation at a normal volume, and we are not having to repeat ourselves as much. Our family was very fortunate that my father decided to have his hearing evaluated and get the help he needed, because as I work in the hearing industry, not all families are this lucky.
Not every person with hearing loss is going to acknowledge they have a problem when their family and friends bring it to their attention, and not every person with hearing loss is going to receive the help they need. It is important for those who suspect they might have hearing loss to get their hearing tested frequently, so that they do not become a burden too those that they love.
– Brittany Barnes, Lead FOA