Holiday Auditory Exhaustion Syndrome is Here!

Posted by Julie, Volunteer Mentor @julieo4, Nov 28, 2022

Having just gone through the Thanksgiving holiday with my family gathering at my home, I'm reminded of the reality of auditory fatigue once again. I love my family, and enjoy special times, but my hearing loss does create barriers to communication. I've been this way for so many years that I expect it and know how to work my way through it. Still, it isn't easy to miss so much of the 'fun stuff'.

For example, since TG day, I've learned several things my granddaughters are doing or planning to do that didn't get through to me on 'the day'. I'm grateful to my husband for his willingness to join me for coffee in a quiet place where we can just talk. The conversation tends to lead to what 'the kids' are doing. At that point I start realizing how much I missed during the real conversation. At that point he also realizes how much I missed, but still scratches his head wondering how that is possible. Of course it's because there are several conversations going on at once, along with the TV blasting a few football games! Happy Thanksgiving!! 🙂

I cope pretty well with this but can't help feeling a bit left out at times. It confuses people when you go back several days later to comment, ask questions, congratulate, etc. We risk being labeled as inattentive or just plain not smart. On the other hand, I would never not go there because I'd simply fade into the background forever!

This is such a common thing among people with hearing loss that I thought it might open a few hearts and minds to openly discuss it in the MCC Hearing Loss Group.

How do you manage family gatherings?

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Hearing Loss Support Group.

@arrowshooter

I'm reading with interest the comments on the CIs. I, too, am teetering on the edge of going down the CI route. But I have a lot to lose if I do. My hearing is mild to moderate at low frequencies (500 up to 1,000 hz) and profound above that. What that means is that I can hear noise pretty well but can't understand speech.

I'm told that I'm a candidate for a hybrid CI which uses a hearing aid in conjunction with an implant in the same ear. The hearing aid covers the low frequencies and the implant covers the high frequencies. However there is no guarantee that my low frequency hearing will be preserved in the low frequencies with implantation. In other words I could go backwards.

With regard to the large noisy gatherings during the holidays I have the usual problems. I don't get to add much to any conversation because by the time my brain figures out what someone said and I want to add a comment someone else has already done that and the conversation moves on without me. Frustrating!!!!

On Thanksgiving evening we had a visit with my granddaughter and her boyfriend in our living room. The boyfriend has a noticeable hearing loss and I think my granddaughter has some hearing loss as well. The conversations that night were in a quiet environment and at a slow pace. We could all participate. That just doesn't happen when hearing people are present.

But at our upcoming Christmas dinner there will be about 20 people at a long table. That means at least 4 or 5 conversations going on at the same time along with dishes and glasses clanking while people talking with mouths full of food. That's pretty much an impossible listening environment for me. Usually the best I can do is read the lips of the person across from me if it isn't covered with a glass or hand covering the mouth while catching some of the words (and a few correctly). I'll be in a crossfire of speech from both sides and way behind in auditory processing. It will be so relaxing to get in the car to drive home and just listen to the road noise (which I can hear very well).

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Years ago, I bought a T shirt at Kohls that was embossed with "I Smile Because I Have No Idea What's Going On!" I wore it at a national HLAA convention. Had I had multiple copies to sell I could have made a fortune!

Those of us who manage our hearing loss fairly well do tend to smile rather than frown. Do you agree?

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@sequoia

Holiday family/friend gatherings are tough. I know I miss a lot, but still work to hear what I can. I ‘try’ not let let it make me introverted, ie just sit there and look interested in what’s being said and really not caring, because I can’t hear much. I keep trying & my DH is so good at filling me in on what’s being said. At the gathering, I was trying to hear a young friend tell me about his college goals & how he was doing. My ears / hearing aids were I think on overload from the mouse & my brain was buzzing trying to hear and understand what he was saying with all the background noise going on. I finally suggested we go into the living room but by that time my listening fatigue had set it, so I still struggled in the Semi-quiet area. Listening fatigue is exhausting and hearing ppl try & be supportive 😇 but really do not understand the extent of it. When we hear speech we have to process what we think heard, put it in context of the conversation, process again to confirm that is correct and then answer or speak. It is longer than a hearing person and seems like a long time to us. I sometimes think the other person thinks I’m stupid. I’m so very thankful for my hearing aids but frustrating at time. Thank you for posting.

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@sequoia You nailed it! This is exactly how most people who have severe hearing loss feel in large gatherings. Attitude makes a difference though. Sounds like you have an A+ there!

People often get the impression that we are either not paying attention or that we are a bit daft or stupid. We sense that and the stress keeps adding up. It takes us time to digest what we are hearing, then to ponder whether or not we heard it correctly, and then to decide whether or not to respond. Sometimes we get it wrong, and our response makes us look really, really bad. We have used examples of those kinds of misunderstandings in 'role play exercises' at HLAA chapter meetings. Sometimes we have to laugh at ourselves too.

Did you know that a person with hearing loss often takes up to 5 seconds to respond to a simple yes or no question?

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@imallears

@julieo4

I had forgotten that my ENT practice has a Cochlear Clinic about 50 minutes from me. The doctor that does the implants for the practice and for patients from different audiologist practices has done over 200 implants since he started in 2014. He graduated first in class from Texas Health….and has an amazing reputation. Works with an Audi who is a CI specialist. Other than that, there is a Communications dept at the very huge University of Florida that is very big ….almost an hour from me. I like the idea of a smaller operation as
USF can be daunting. Went there about 20 years ago to see an ENT and saw his associate PA instead. At the time I was not impressed. They have 3 or 4 doctors and do a lot of implants on children.

My practice sounds more comfortable and personal and the hospitals are known to me.

Do you think having done over 200 so far sounds good?

You got me going ya know….in the new year.

FL Mary

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I suspect that surgeon is qualified. If you go there, ask to meet others who have had CIs done there. Happy New Year!!

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@julieo4

Years ago, I bought a T shirt at Kohls that was embossed with "I Smile Because I Have No Idea What's Going On!" I wore it at a national HLAA convention. Had I had multiple copies to sell I could have made a fortune!

Those of us who manage our hearing loss fairly well do tend to smile rather than frown. Do you agree?

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@julieo4

Absolutely agree and I have always said, when you have to explain your hearing loss, do it with a smile.

People respond to smiles. I think We smile a lot in large noisy group gatherings…sort of an expectant smile because fun things are obviously going on and we hope someone lets us know what. Then there’s that bemused smile. Your day will go the way the corners of your mouth turn……Winston Churchill.

FL Mary

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@julieo4

@sequoia You nailed it! This is exactly how most people who have severe hearing loss feel in large gatherings. Attitude makes a difference though. Sounds like you have an A+ there!

People often get the impression that we are either not paying attention or that we are a bit daft or stupid. We sense that and the stress keeps adding up. It takes us time to digest what we are hearing, then to ponder whether or not we heard it correctly, and then to decide whether or not to respond. Sometimes we get it wrong, and our response makes us look really, really bad. We have used examples of those kinds of misunderstandings in 'role play exercises' at HLAA chapter meetings. Sometimes we have to laugh at ourselves too.

Did you know that a person with hearing loss often takes up to 5 seconds to respond to a simple yes or no question?

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@julieo4 I did not know about taking up to 5 seconds to respond – Wow. I've been thinking about HLAA. I think I would like to learn more about the organization. I will research and see what is around my neck of the woods. OBTW, I think "daft" is a better description than stupid but they both work hahaha and also, I've had plenty of misunderstandings that are quite funny. You have to have a sense of humor in all of this. Good day!

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@sequoia

@julieo4 I did not know about taking up to 5 seconds to respond – Wow. I've been thinking about HLAA. I think I would like to learn more about the organization. I will research and see what is around my neck of the woods. OBTW, I think "daft" is a better description than stupid but they both work hahaha and also, I've had plenty of misunderstandings that are quite funny. You have to have a sense of humor in all of this. Good day!

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HLAA is a wonderful organization and resource. Feel free to send me a personal message if you're uncomfortable sharing where you live via the forum. There are chapters all over the country. The national organization's website is http://www.hearingloss.org Well worth supporting.

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@julieo4 I’m in Idaho. No chapters or in Eastern WA. That’s ok as I would/will join for the info. I’ll checkout their information on the webpage. I research HL a bit and try and keep informed. I like to talk w/ folks & help them see the importance of hearing aids. I get aggravated & frustrated that HA are so expensive for seniors. We have welfare for ppl that done just don’t want to work but our seniors worked all their lives and some can’t get help w/ HAs. Shame on Medicare. Sorry, I stepped up on the soapbox. 🤷‍♀️🥰

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@sequoia

Holiday family/friend gatherings are tough. I know I miss a lot, but still work to hear what I can. I ‘try’ not let let it make me introverted, ie just sit there and look interested in what’s being said and really not caring, because I can’t hear much. I keep trying & my DH is so good at filling me in on what’s being said. At the gathering, I was trying to hear a young friend tell me about his college goals & how he was doing. My ears / hearing aids were I think on overload from the mouse & my brain was buzzing trying to hear and understand what he was saying with all the background noise going on. I finally suggested we go into the living room but by that time my listening fatigue had set it, so I still struggled in the Semi-quiet area. Listening fatigue is exhausting and hearing ppl try & be supportive 😇 but really do not understand the extent of it. When we hear speech we have to process what we think heard, put it in context of the conversation, process again to confirm that is correct and then answer or speak. It is longer than a hearing person and seems like a long time to us. I sometimes think the other person thinks I’m stupid. I’m so very thankful for my hearing aids but frustrating at time. Thank you for posting.

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Thank you so much, Sequoia, for putting into words the experience of listening fatigue. I know it so well, but I had never explicitly described it even to myself. It’s this kind of fatigue, I’m very afraid, that helps to forge the link between hearing loss and dementia. The kinds of experiences you describe, which have become increasingly common in my own life, can pave the way for those of us suffering from hearing loss to conclude that withdrawing is better for us as well as for those whose patience can grow thin with our inability to “keep up.”

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@sequoia

@julieo4 I’m in Idaho. No chapters or in Eastern WA. That’s ok as I would/will join for the info. I’ll checkout their information on the webpage. I research HL a bit and try and keep informed. I like to talk w/ folks & help them see the importance of hearing aids. I get aggravated & frustrated that HA are so expensive for seniors. We have welfare for ppl that done just don’t want to work but our seniors worked all their lives and some can’t get help w/ HAs. Shame on Medicare. Sorry, I stepped up on the soapbox. 🤷‍♀️🥰

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No soapbox needed. This Medicare/Insurance issue is one that has been in the craw of HLAA and the entire hard of hearing population for decades. It's pretty obvious that the insurance companies have bever been willing to include hearing aids in their policies. Why is that? Is this about trust? Does it have something to do with the false advertising that has been out there for years referring to hearing aids as 'miracles'? We all know they don't cure hearing loss. When fit properly they help people hear better.

I've often asked if hearing instruments are medical devices or consumer products. Right now, with the Over the Counter (OTC) law having been enacted, it's pretty clear that those OTC devices that do not require a prescription are consumer products just like cell phones, headsets, etc.

Sorry there are no HLAA chapters in your area. Chapters happen when a group of people with hearing loss come together to share experiences and reach out to others. There's a ton of information on the HLAA website. Due to recent COVID protocols many chapters are holding hybrid meetings that allow people from outside the chapter's region to attend and participate. I encourage you to take time to listen to some of the podcasts on the website. http://www.hearingloss.org

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@julieo4

@sequoia You nailed it! This is exactly how most people who have severe hearing loss feel in large gatherings. Attitude makes a difference though. Sounds like you have an A+ there!

People often get the impression that we are either not paying attention or that we are a bit daft or stupid. We sense that and the stress keeps adding up. It takes us time to digest what we are hearing, then to ponder whether or not we heard it correctly, and then to decide whether or not to respond. Sometimes we get it wrong, and our response makes us look really, really bad. We have used examples of those kinds of misunderstandings in 'role play exercises' at HLAA chapter meetings. Sometimes we have to laugh at ourselves too.

Did you know that a person with hearing loss often takes up to 5 seconds to respond to a simple yes or no question?

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When you say they think we are daft or stupid, do they actually say that to you or is that just what you are thinking? I always struggle in group situations, but no one has ever told me I am stupid or anything since I can't understand. I do know I feel self conscious about not being able to hear and sometime think people are either getting frustrated with me. I do know a lot of times I end up zoning out because I just can't keep up and my brain "shuts down". Thankfully with family I am usually pretty at ease and don't worry so much and if I have questions about what was being talked about, my hubby is pretty good with filling me in. The hardest though are when we have our work lunches with my department. We work from home, so the only time i get together with them is a few times a year at these lunches. We have a bowling/lunch holiday get together coming up and I am happy to see them but worried about what I will miss.

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