Ellie, my sweetheart and the love of my life, and I spend a lot of time in our den. We are perched, each of us, on a lift chair, controlled by pushing buttons on a wired remote control. Pushing the right button for long enough will practically stand the occupant up and push him/her out of the seat. Similarly, pushing a different button long enough will lay the chair flat, perhaps even making the head slightly lower than the feet, inviting the occupant to nap.
Ellie's arthritis had bothered her enough that the simple act of getting out of a chair became difficult. This persuaded us to look for a lift chair to ease the difficulty. When we found one, I, of course, became jealous, so we got two of them. We now have His and Hers chairs, as I, noticeably taller than she, need a bigger chair.
Pretty independent of one another, we read, watch TV and use our smartphones. We play competitive games on the phones ( against each other, against others ), games of skill against the phone, and almost always at least several brain games at the same time ( these pit us against the material, but we do them at the same time ). There's plenty of interaction and there's plenty of quiet time as well.
Ellie would commonly punctuate this time my going to the kitchen to perform some cat-spoiling activity. It was during these times that the issue began rearing its head.
"Honey, did I leave my water bottle in the den?" she'd ask, as she was spooning some ocean whitefish from the can to the dish of one of the cats.
"Yes, it's here; do you want it?" I'd respond.
"No, just making sure I know where it is."
Every now and then, as she was running water to rinse the dinner plate belonging to one of the cats, she'd ask, "Honey, did I leave my coffee in the den?"
Having heard her voice but utterly failing to understand, I'd call back, consciously making myself heard above the running water, "What? Could you turn the water off and repeat the question, please?" Which of course, she did, and everything was cool.
Until it wasn't.
She'd frequently forget that running water drowned out her voice
( enjoying the pun ) and she began suggesting I wasn't hearing her adequately. It didn't help that, when we were both in the den, both enveloped in our individual activity, she'd ask something with no intro. "You know that play we were talking about? How did the homicidal maniac get into the bedroom without anyone noticing?"
I would not realize she was talking to me until about, "into the bedroom," by which time it was way too late to know the totality of what she had said. "What, I'm sorry … what did you say?"
It didn't help that I would frequently say something to her and she didn't hear it, either. She accused me of mumbling. ( And, truth be told, I do that more often that I'd like to admit. Perhaps way. ) And I noticed I heard things and asked her about them and she didn't hear them at all … like her shoes making odd squeaking noises on her desk-chair mat. I was sure I could hear better than she, she was sure I suffered from at least some hearing loss, and I was afraid that that was true.
"FREE HEARING SCREENING," the coupon said. "Let's go do this, both you and I," Ellie said.
We did. Guess what?
I do hear better than Ellie does, I do have some non-trivial hearing loss, and so does she. Our hearing loss is compatible with people our age, and I am now the proud owner of a set of hearing aids. As is Ellie. What a pair we make!
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