Sunday, May 6, 2012


From Ting and I: A Memoir...

Tina has exceptionally good hearing. She was tops in a hearing test given in second grade in Monroe County, NY, which includes the city of Rochester.

As did Beethoven, I am going deaf. There any similarity ends. My hearing is fair to poor, progressively requiring me to ask people to repeat themselves. Tina is very soft-spoken. You can begin to see problems. We’ve tried various technological fixes, but it is hard to watch the same TV programs together. Loud enough for me is too loud for Tina. Closed captioning helps, though it is an on-screen distraction.

My mother arrived in our household in November 2010. She admits to being “deaf as a post,” a humorous overstatement. If you yell into her right ear, she can hear you. An expensive hearing aid makes an undramatic and tinny-sounding increase in volume. The best thing so far is the $25 electronic megaphone I got last year and used with her in her own house and now sometimes in our house, especially to deliver my longer messages.

Deafness means Mom misses or mis-hears much of what goes on around her. The once-brilliant mind is not getting the proper input. Blindness would limit her more, but deafness is a real barrier to interpersonal relations.

My vision problems that cannot be corrected with glasses (cataracts, epiretinal membranes) are not limiting at present, except for reading the fine print; but they are expected to worsen, in which case I will need assistance.

For Father’s Day, younger son Phil bought me a Kindle (electronic book), which I love. The text size can be adjusted for comfort and many of the available titles can be “read” audibly by the device’s text-to-speech feature.

I read fifty or so books in the first six months I had the Kindle. For Christmas elder son Ted gave Tina one. She has listened to This Is China, a compact history of that important nation. Our latest technological addition has been an Internet wireless streaming device (Roku), which, when combined with our computer and the home’s WiFi set-up, allows easy instant access to myriad movies, using our Netflix subscription. Tina and I enjoyed several movies together within weeks of setting it up, with Phil’s help.

As technology continues to improve, the impact of our disabilities will decrease. Even if Tina is not healed, as we pray and hope she will be, some wonderful invention may help her enjoy her life more.

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