Be part of the miracle
This morning, as I stepped out my door to retrieve the newspaper, I experienced a miracle. I could hear the birds as they gave their early spring calls. I could see the blossoms on trees and tulips. Everything around me sparkled. My senses were sharpened and in high gear.
I have been wrestling with my vision and hearing for a couple of years. Old age had crept up on ears dulled from birth defects and left me asking, ‘What did you say?’ more often than I liked to admit. A damaging retina ‘event’ had rendered my aging eyesight to be blurred.
Like many people, I had sought help from drug-store glasses for reading when I reached the age of 40, and later moved to contact lenses. For 28 years, I functioned well, until I gradually began to see only fuzz in front of me. Since then, I have acquired eight different pairs of glasses, which I would rotate on and off my head often in utter frustration. But, today, I stood in my yard and admired tiny blossoms high up in the pear trees by my driveway. It is indeed a miracle that, as the result of ophthalmologists and nurses dedicated to acquiring the latest medical training, I can really witness this magnificent spring up-close and personal.
For almost 12 years, I also struggled with hearing aids that were inadequate, to say the least. In fact, most of the so-called ‘aids’ were more trouble than they were worth. I had always banked on my ears deteriorating slower than baby boomers would age. I have a theory that until the vast majority of citizens need better artificially-induced good hearing, dollars and skills will not be invested in research to produce it. Have you noticed that as of Jan. 1, 2012, when the first baby boomers turned 65, the newspapers are full of advertisements for hearing aids? Many of my friends of advanced age have often just left their pricey hearing aids in the box because they distorted sounds or made their heads buzz. Boomers, by having the numbers to drive the economic market, are not used to such delay in satisfaction and will demand better equipment. I, by contrast, have had a whole arsenal of contraptions to make my hearing aids and glasses operational.
I have just received my miracles of the senses because I recently had cataract surgery and have finally found hearing aids that work. I urge all you who have been in the same mess for years to persevere and never give up. It is possible to be able to sense what is around you again and well worth it.
I found that, when I was in what I think of as the ‘fuzzy’ stage with my eyes and ears, I did the dumbest things. I would close my eyes because the confusion before them was just too much. I would put aside written material for a later time as though I thought I would be able to read better under different conditions at some other hour. I often removed my hearing aids and stuffed them in a pocket because I just couldn’t stand the noise or the embarrassment of not understanding words and needing to ask people to repeat themselves. The worst was to be in a crowd where everyone laughed at something and having no idea what was said, just laughing to act like I was with it. In other words, I would just withdraw from active participation in the world around me.
When senses such as vision and hearing are dulled, they leave us with the feeling that we have lost the capacity to perceive accurately the world around us. Who wants to enter a discussion when they are dubious of having a true understanding of what has been said? Who wants to enter a crowded room of activity when their sight provides them no depth perception? It is an understatement to say that lack of accurate sight and sound leaves one with a sense of inadequacy. It is both stressful and exhausting. It is easier under such circumstances to step back and ‘just leave the action to the young folks.’ Well, I say ‘bosh’ to that!
If we, as an advanced society, can send ‘tweets’ around the world in seconds, we can prod medical researchers and health care providers to develop and dispense high-tech effective equipment to aid aging senior citizens. Don’t think that you or a friend or family member are just getting old and have to tolerate resulting physical handicaps. If you have been putting up with low-performing hearing and seeing, do something about it. Get those rarely used hearing aids out of the box and take them to an audiology center for help. Take those ineffective glasses you have been squinting through to an ophthalmologist for an adjustment. Get back in the game and experience the wonders of really being alive.