14 July 2009

On Awkward Social Gatherings and Odd Deficiencies

For me, they've just about ALL become awkward. The problem is with my ears. And so when I sit down with a bunch of people, I am almost invariably on edge. At my niece's wedding (sitting directly in front of the band!), there was plenty of table conversation, but I just smiled and nodded and hoped that I nodded at the right times. I noticed it several times during the recent Higher Things. I just have trouble in any kind of a crowd where there's hubbub or background noise or a bunch of folks seated together at a table. I get a lot of what is being said, but there are clearly times I totally miss what is being said. I think poor Pr. Borghardt thought I was a total ninny when I missed his jokes, but most of the time I just couldn't process the words.

If Cindi is at my side she usually helps me through. Her favorite is telling me: "That wasn't a yes or no question" when I've just totally missed someone's point. What's truly hysterical is what my brain makes the words I hear into. Yesterday, we were riding our bikes and Cindi said something that I heard as: "The beans are really sore." I knew that wasn't right, so I asked her to repeat herself. Her KNEES were really sore. Knees to beans? How on earth???

Anywho, for those of you have been puzzled by my puzzled look or inappropriate response to something you said, you now know what's up. Fabulously fit by 50 doesn't fix the hearing!!!

Oh, and one other funny. There Pastor Kesemann was giving his fine presentation on Sola Fide at Higher Things, and unlike me, he's good with powerpoint and has a neato presentation underway. Except he kept omitting the verses from Scripture that he was emphasizing. The rest of the verse was on the screen, but there were these odd blanks right at everything he was stressing. Finally it hit me. I asked the lady next to me what color the missing words were - they were red. She smiled and said: "A little color blind?" Yup. That too. Red on brown or black just doesn't want to show. Go figure.


Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

What you experienced may be easily blamed by some as a lack of attention, but there is an area of study in auditory processing where, like sensory integration, it's easy to get overwhelmed with the total amount of sensory input, and it's easier just to shut off and ignore. We would rather suffer the embarrassment of missing a joke and chuckling rather than wonder if there is something really wrong with us. The condition isn't reserved for the old.

Regarding red on brown: I would have to look at the slide, but that doesn't sound very good. Red on black I've done before, but I prefer lighter tones than red on a black screen. :)

Bishop Robert Lyons said...

You are not alone. I first noticed a very similar issue when I was 23 and it has only gotten worse. When I 'overfocus' on a speaker in such situations, I only succeed in giving myself a borderline migrane. Case in point, I went to the Leadership Forum of the hospital I serve this morning. We are talking about building a new facility, but have to get public support via a bond issue. The discussion moved on to another matter, but everyone kept on talking about the bond issue and the election called for it. I couldn't hear the presentation on another issue, and, after attempting to do so for five minutes, I had a royal pain in my skull. So I just gave up, took off my glasses, and stared at Bonnie the service dog who was introduced at the Forum.

It's embarassing sometimes, but I've taken to telling people I know that it's an issue so at lest they won't think I am being a pretentious or insensitive jerk.

Can't help you on the colorblindness thing, though. While similar colors on one another does strain my eyes, I can make them out.


Anonymous said...

hahahaha- I thoroughly enjoyed the last part!

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

Guys, you have put your finger on a very real and serious problem. It is, however, one area where people feel no hesitation to make jokes and poke fun.

I'm talking about why you need hearing aids. Yes, hearing aids.

Men in their forties begin to lose high frequency hearing ability and it gets worse.

What you, Pr. Weedon and Lyons, are describing is classic of this condition.

It's why I have digital hearing aids today. Without them, I'm lost in any social situation and anywhere there is much noise.

Do not just live with this. Why should you?

You have glasses or contacts for vision problems, similarly for hearing problems we need help.

Believe me: you are irritating your whole family, no matter what they say to you. How many times do they have to repeat themselves? How many times do you complain that they are mumbling and not speaking loudly enough? Ask them how loudly you turn the volume up on the television.

They'll tell you.

Elephantschild said...

I hear your pain, Pastor Weedon. I've been deaf in my left ear all my life, and I have a dickens of a time in bustling social settings like a large dinner at a restaurant, crowds, family gatherings and the like.

With "mono" hearing instead of "stereo", I can't sort the background noise from the conversation, and I routinely miss chunks of conversation.

Too bad it's not a hearing loss that can be corrected with the fancy hearing aids Pr. McCain is speaking of!

Cha said...

"The fact that we have bodies is the oldest and most universal of all jokes."

- C.S. Lewis

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I echo what McCain has to say - do not fear to engage in some better living via technology. I'm blind as a bat without my contacts - so I wear them. If and when my ears fail, I'll augment them as well.

But so you know. . . the beans could have been sore - maybe your wife just loves plants.

WM Cwirla said...

I did a hearing test a few years ago. Major annoying tinnitus in my right ear traceable to Neal Young, Greek Theater - Berkeley, 1980 and finished off by Strunz and Farah at The Hop in a painfully loud concert that didn't have to be so.

Audiologist said the loss was largely in the range of the female voice. I asked him if he thought this was a handicap? (rim shot)

Agree with McCain. I'm thinking of aids myself. Voice discrimination is shot in a crowded room. As an introvert, I don't mind it, but it does hamper conversation.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Yup, McCain's advice is sound.

This morning, when I thought I heard my husband say, "I'd like an appointment to cut the lawn," I motioned to him, no, no! I've already arranged for the lawn to be cut twice more this month.

What he'd really said was, "I'd like an apppointment with Dr. Maughan."


Past Elder said...

I'm for that too. And as an adjunct to a full physical.

Can't believe you kids. Here I am 59, everything works and nothing hurts.

If you knew my life other than the theological side of it before becoming the placid, irenic, even-tempered, measured Past Elder, you'd count that a bleeding miracle.

William Weedon said...

ROTFLOL - with both Anastasia and Terry! Placid my posterior!!!

Past Elder said...

Whaddya mean? Here I let the fact that 11 July is not the feast of St Benedict other than through the most miserable creeping ooze of revisionist modernist vermin infestation go by without a word!

(It's actually 21 March, or 14 March if you're EO.)

WM Cwirla said...

Can't believe you kids. Here I am 59, everything works and nothing hurts.

Oh, oh. Pride goeth before the fall. Make sure you medical insurance is up to snuff.

Here I let the fact that 11 July is not the feast of St Benedict other than through the most miserable creeping ooze of revisionist modernist vermin infestation go by without a word!

His body may be working, but his mind is falling apart right before our eyes!

Past Elder said...

Yeah I worried about that when I turned 40. 19 years later, everything still works and nothing hurts. Of course, there's "yet".

Before your eyes? What kind of webcam you got anyway? Must be some sort of nefarious Mac thing.

Anonymous said...

Pr. Weedon,
You may have noticed...I wear them. Trifocals and hearing aids. It was a brass ensemble in a stone walled church that created tinnitus for me. Aids mask the tinnitus (and yes, the hearing loss is also in the upper register.)
You feel for a bit like the aids are conspicuous, but they aren't really and getting less so all the time. It's worth doing!

William Weedon said...


No, I didn't notice - and I think that's a good sign! I will have to check them out. The tinitus drives me bonkers. Especially when the "internal pitch" doesn't match the musical pitch outside. I describe it as an eternal summer - crickets are always chirping in ears...

Anonymous said...

My audiologist was diplomatic. He asked if I had trouble with young children's treble voices. Helen

I describe the tinnitus as a mosquito whine!