What do an alarm clock, running water, dogs, and children have in common?
The answer is simple. They all create sounds that I hear every day of my life. The horrific sound of my phone’s alarm clock wakes me up every morning. As I brush my teeth, take a shower, or wash the dishes, the noise generated by running water can be heard. Our dogs will bark when they see someone outside or watch a leaf blow through the yard. The sweet, soothing sound of my children laughing is like music to the ears. The arguing of those same children is like the screech of fingernails on the chalkboard that makes me want to pull out the remainder of my hair. These are just a few of the sounds I hear daily. The world around me is filled with noise. Noise that creates confusion and feelings of anger. Noise that soothes, awakens, and refreshes the mind and body. Noise exists everywhere.
But what if it didn’t?
I want you to pause for a minute and think about a world of silence. A planet with no noise. Would you miss that horrific alarm ringing and/or the sound of giggling children? Could you survive not hearing your spouse say “I love you”?
It isn’t often that we, as people, stop to process such deep thoughts. We are too wrapped up in our lives, often in our shortcomings, to examine the blessings that we take for granted. We lack gratitude for the ability to taste unbelievable food, see amazing colors, smell fresh flowers, feel soft skin, and hear beautiful sounds. So what would happen if suddenly one of those senses was gone? What happens if you lose the ability to hear? Would it affect you? Once again the answer is simple. Yes it would.
We had the opportunity to take HearCare Connection’s Hearing Challenge. For one day, we lost the ability to hear. Well, we could hear, but not very well thanks to super-duper earplugs. That one day was a very long and frustrating day.
HearCare Connection, Inc. is a nonprofit hearing center that serves low-income children and adults with affordable and accessible hearing healthcare. Their mission is to build the self-worth of individuals by restoring their hearing and providing them with opportunities to engage with their communities through service to others. HearCare is not a free clinic. They operate on a reduced fee, sliding scale basis to make hearing healthcare affordable. In return for the low-cost care, a Circle of Giving model gives patients the opportunity to give back to the community through volunteer hours. For every hearing aid patients receive through HearCare Connection, they return a designated amount of volunteer hours to their community. This is their way of saying “Thank you” to the funders and donors that make it possible for those patients to receive the “Gift of Hearing”.
We all participated in the challenge. Erica and the girls time was limited due to school and work meetings. I decided to wear my plugs throughout the day as I worked. It was almost impossible. First, I could not understand what people were saying. Everything was muffled and hard to comprehend. I continually interrupted people by saying, “Wait, what did you say?” I know that I was irritating those I was trying to communicate with, but I could not help it.
Second, I could not speak. When you cannot hear, you have no idea what you are saying. Not hearing the sound of your own voice (no matter how much you hate it) makes verbal communication very difficult. I had to speak loud so that I could hear myself talk which made conversations uncomfortable for the other party.
Lastly, not being able to hear made me sick. I had to concentrate so hard to read lips or try to catch key words that were spoken that I eventually had a headache. That headache led to me not feeling well which destroyed any and all productivity. At the end of the day I accomplished very little and felt miserable in the process.
I cannot imagine living life that way 365 days a year. It was a struggle. Unfortunately, many people in our community do because they cannot afford the proper care. They do not have the financial resources to see an audiologist and they have no money to purchase hearing aids. So, they carry on. Struggling to hear, communicate, work, live, and survive. Their lack of hearing and inability to do anything about it controls, and potentially destroys, their lives. Thankfully our community, and communities around the world, has a treasure like HearCare Connection to help these people in need.
Take a few minutes and learn more about the awesome work that HearCare Connection does in our area. Find a way to get involved. Maybe you and your family can take the hearing challenge. I am sure you will find yourself saying “What did you say?” and “What did I say” if you do. Afterwards, I guarantee you will appreciate the ability to hear. Hopefully that will cause you to pause a few minutes and say thanks for the small things that you take for granted each and every day.