Verse and Chapters
October 9, 2013
Alice so loveth her wig that she is willing to give up her quite expensively begotten hearing aids because she cannot wear them and the wig at the same time.
And so ensues a struggle with her daughter, who succeedeth not in understanding how anyone, and in particular her own mother, could feel this way.
Not really Biblical? Then why does it feel so monumental?
But first, before the verse above comes into play, let me just say that hearing aids come with contracts. Alice’s contract stipulated that she had a 60-day trial. At any time during that period she could return them, get a refund and go back to her old hearing aids, or she could try a different kind.
On the day we got the new hearing aids and arrived home from Dr. Boelter’s office, she reminded me that this new type required a different sort of battery than the kind she’d been using. She wanted to give away the box of batteries that were used specifically for her old hearing aids.
“Someone can use them,” she said. “The box cost fifty dollars and it’s almost full.”
“Don’t give the old batteries away,” I said. I reminded her that she could go back to her old hearing aids if the new ones didn’t work out, in which case she’d need those batteries.
She appeared to understand me. Nevertheless, we had the conversation three or four more times over the next few weeks. Each time she promised that no, she would definitely not give away the box of batteries.
One day she told me in passing that she had given the box of batteries to a woman down the hall at The Place. “She was so happy to get them,” she said. “You know I paid fifty dollars for that box.”
I took a deep breath but the words tumbled out anyway. “Well, I wish you’d hung onto them in case you need to go back to using your old hearing aids.”
“Oh, I threw those old hearing aids away weeks ago,” she said.
“In the trash?” I was incredulous.
“Yes, in the trash,” she said. “That’s where you throw things away, isn’t it?” She chuckled, thinking me very silly.
At least once or twice a week during our daily conversations, I continued to ask Alice how well the new hearing aids were working. I’d noticed a difference, but what about her ability to hear the staff when one of them came to get her blood pressure? What about Nadine in the dining room?
She always reported that the new hearing aids were “all right.” She didn’t like the fact they fit over her ear, like this:
Sometimes she would say, “They don’t work at all.”
I’d then tell her we could take them back. There was still time.
She didn’t want to do that. “I’ll keep trying,” she said. “Maybe they’re better than my old ones. I could hear the TV set better with my old ones, that’s for sure.”
Dr. Boelter very kindly drove across town during rush hour traffic one day to do some adjustments. After that visit, Alice thought there was improvement, but in a week or so she told me she couldn’t really tell if there was a difference.
“Shall we return them then?” I asked.
“Oh no,” she said. “We don’t need to do that.”
At last we were nudging right up to the contract’s due date. I explained she would not have to go to the doctor’s office. I would make an appointment and return them.
But she continued to complain. The day before the due date came. I gave her one more chance. “Stop pestering me about the hearing aids!” she said.
“I’m pestering you because they cost $2400,” I said. “If you don’t want to keep them, we should return them and get some that work better.”
She reassured me that the new hearing aids were “much better than nothing.”
The contract date came and went. She held on to the new hearing aids.
And then one day she decided to start wearing her wig.
Since it’s nearly all I talk about, you know the wig I’m referring to.
The wig must be carefully maneuvered into place.
In case you have never looked at one, a wig is not only a shank of hair. There’s the hair and then there’s the business underneath the hair:
Alice told me she was having some trouble. The problem was that pulling and stretching the wig into place can eject a hearing aid from its post above the ear and send it flying off, out of sight.
When Alice described the difficulties, I thought we could find a wig with shorter hair, less wig business, less stretching, and no need for a cap. “We will just get you a different wig,” I said.
I said it in a no-nonsense tone, coming down firmly on the side of practicality, even though I’ve always been considered by immediate family members to be the most impractical of all of us.
Alice’s mouth opened. She stared at me for a moment. I thought she was about to compliment me on this surprising new stripe in my character – bold, weighty, steely gray. Practically Norwegian. But what she said was, “No! I love this wig!”
I argued: Wasn’t it far more important to hear, even a little, than to have that particular wig, or any wig?
She looked disheartened. “The wig makes me happy. The hearing aids don’t. Let’s just put them away and forget about them.”
Meditation and Reflection
Looking back over the history of these hearing aids, I think she started to dislike them the moment she realized they weren’t going to bring back her hearing. They didn’t cure her, so what good are they? She’s terribly frustrated by her inability to understand what the people around her are saying.
The benefit of the wig, on the other hand, is that people smile and tell her how good she looks, not only the people at The Place but doctors, nurses, lab technicians, clerks etc. All of them say things like, “You look twenty years younger,” or “What have you done to your hair? It’s so pretty,” or “Ninety-eight! I would have thought you were seventy.”
Even when she can’t hear or understand every word they’re saying, she basks in the smiles of approval.
We had the wig vs. hearing conversation in one form or another for many days. Finally, I called Shelly Boelter and she and her assistant Carey performed some kind of hearing aid industrial magic.
Tomorrow Alice and I will go in so she can be fitted with new, inside-the-ear hearing aids – at a cost but not as much as the original cost.
You’ll be the first to know if we continue to be lost or are saved.
By the way, have you heard of the new hearing aid that you wear on your teeth? No kidding. Alice doesn’t have the kind of teeth this would work with, and anyway it’s for those with hearing loss in one ear only. Kind of amazing.