Stress and Hearing Well

You know I’ve heard a lot of different speakers discuss the different things that can make hearing difficult. Background noise is a common culprit, as well as poor technology or NO technology. Soft voices, people who chew gum, covering your mouth, or the common cold can all make hearing difficult for someone who has a hearing loss.

I don’t often hear (pardon the pun) people talk about how stress can affect hearing, however. I wonder why that is? We all have various levels of stress depending on our jobs, relationships, health, etc. I tell myself that there is NO WAY I am alone in the fact that stress greatly affects my ability to hear. And yet… I have not read or seen that it has been openly addressed in any forum or list serve.

Stress greatly affects my ability to hear. As a family, we just experienced one of the worst weeks we’ve probably ever had. As “mom” I struggle to answer questions and concerns in a calm way, trying to relay my assurance that everything will be ok. As “wife”, I try hard to encourage and affirm my husband. I think even prior to hearing loss, my personality was such that I tended to “shoulder responsibility” for the emotional well-being of those I love.

Do you know how difficult it is to be supportive and helpful when you aren’t hearing well? Stress tends to negate any positive assistance even the very best of technology has to offer me! I love my CI. Even so, this week has been a difficult “hearing” week for me. I think it’s because I am so very distracted… making it difficult to concentrate fully on communication.

People with normal hearing interact verbally and communicate with little concentration. I remember being able to peel potatoes over the garbage disposal… WITH the water running… WITH the radio on… all the while discussing how great the Denver Broncos are with someone else, while in the kitchen with my back turned! (Hey! Long ago when I could hear, the Broncos were awesome! Go Orange CRUSH!) Yes, now I am able to hear voices so much better, and communication is so much easier. Yet I still burn calories just listening… at least compared to folks with normal hearing. (Why doesn’t the scale show that listening with a CI burns calories? grimace)

But when I’m feeling overloaded with stress, grief or despair… that distraction is enough to keep me from hearing well. My family have all shot me looks of surprise this week in the number of times I’ve said, “Will you repeat that?” They, too, have grown accustomed to my hearing better and communicating with confidence.

I guess I didn’t realize that communication for someone with a CI still requires concentration. I am encouraged, however, as I simply cannot see around the fact that this must get easier. The longer I have my CI, I really think that I will have to concentrate less. Perhaps stress will not be a hindrance to hearing well in the future.

For now… I am saying “huh?” a lot!

I imagine, that is why prayer has been a constant in my adult life. It’s only through prayer that I communicate with ease. I don’t have to read God’s lips… I can disconnect my CI and feel very confident in my ability to express myself to Him. Stress doesn’t come into play at all. As a matter of fact… when finished I find there is less stress anyway.

Denise Portis
©2007 Hearing Loss Diary

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