Can you hear in the dark? I recently realized that I cannot. It was sort of a strange realization, and a bit scary, in case there is an emergency at night. Just one more thing to overcome with hearing loss, I guess. Here is the story.
We were having some lighting work done on the outside of our home this summer, and one night the lighting company came to do a demonstration. The sky was dark and the landscape lighting was on, but not too brightly. The project manager was walking us around the house discussing the lights and asking us if we wanted them brighter or dimmer or angled in different directions. I couldn’t hear a word. My husband was answering the questions and I kept nudging him with my elbow trying to get him to repeat things, but it wasn’t working. I hadn’t realized I was so dependent on visual clues to hear! Finally I just came clean, and announced that I couldn’t hear since it was dark out and they would all need to speak louder and face me when they were talking. That made things a bit better for a little while, but it is hard for people to remember to adjust their speaking patterns for extended periods of time.
Maybe this is obvious to most people with hearing loss, but for some reason I had never been in this situation before. At night in bed, there is not much to hear, so maybe I never noticed. And I usually do keep the lights on until I am ready to sleep. I was scared by this new realization. What if there was an emergency in the middle of the night and I needed to hear instructions? What if the power went out? What if my children were calling to me in the dark and I didn’t hear them? What if I just wanted to take a nice moonlit walk with friends? I decided I better figure out a strategy.
Today, I am much more aware of the lighting in any given situation and try to use it to my advantage. For example, I try to sit so that others are well-lit and visible. If it is dark, I ask people if I can turn on a light. I sit closer to people if it is darker. I also turn up the volume on my hearing aids. And I made sure that outdoor lighting on our house was turned up very bright!
Readers, how do you manage your hearing when there are no visual clues?