What was that?

It’s a drag suffering from hearing loss, and not simply because you often miss what’s going on.

I used to have excellent hearing, right up until I was about fifteen. Then I started playing lead guitar in loud rock bands and my hearing was rapidly wrecked. Tests show my hearing ability to be equivalent to someone who either works in an excessively noisy environment, or someone thirty or forty years older than I am. Given that many of the latter group are dead, that’s not saying a lot… I’ve lost hearing at most higher frequencies, and suffer constant tinnitus. The latter consists of whistles at several different pitches, simultaneously, and at varying volume. It really does my head in at times.

The impact of this is that I often have trouble hearing what people say to me, particularly if there’s any background noise. If you chat to me at a con and I nod blankly, chances are that I’m struggling to keep up but hate to keep asking people to repeat what they’ve said.

To me that’s one of the crucial things: yes, it’s a pain to miss some of what’s going on, but the worst part is having to ask people to repeat themselves. And then, often, asking them to do so again. When I can make out what they’ve said, more often than not it’s been a trivial passing comment it would have done no harm to miss, but by then I’ve asked, the conversation has been interrupted, the flow broken… It doesn’t make for easy conversation sometimes, and that gets incredibly frustrating for me – and for the person I’m talking to.

Whenever I watch a film, I put the subtitles on. How cool would it be if we could do that in real life? But no…

So in advance: sorry. When we chat I’m going to ask you to repeat yourself, and sometimes I won’t when I should, simply because I’d rather the conversation flowed than was repeatedly hauled back. Sometimes I’ll get that wrong, but hey, don’t take it personally.

And yes, I probably should get hearing aids, shouldn’t I?

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About Keith Brooke and infinity plus

Keith Brooke is a writer of science fiction, fantasy and other strange stuff, and editor and reviewer of same. He is also the publisher at infinity plus, an independent imprint publishing books by leading genre fiction authors. View all posts by Keith Brooke and infinity plus

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