Assistive Listening Devices – Bah HUMBUG!

Assistive Listening Devices – Wonderful Blessing, or “Bah! Hum Bug!”?

This Christmas I was asked to participate in our church’s Christmas drama. We chose to do something every simple. We have so many families traveling this year, plus our church has a very high percentage of folk in the military. Some are overseas, and some are simply working overtime this Christmas. So we chose to simply have some adults (in costume) read some of the Christmas story, while children (in costume) acted out what was read.

When I was first asked to participate, I thought to myself, “NO WAY”! How can a late-deafened adult participate? But as my friend explained to me what was entailed, I thought it would be something I should MAKE myself do! I continue to fight isolating myself, so this was a good opportunity for me to “practice what I preach” from the discussions that I’ve been privileged to lead with other hard of hearies.

Of course I also knew that with Andrew on the set, I would be – well; “set”! You see Andrew is every hard-of-hearing person’s dream come true when it comes to wishing for a technically savvy sound guy at your place of worship! When I came to our little church, he purchased a state of the art FM system and re-worked all of the microphones and speakers so that I could hear. He asks me for constant updates on how he can help me hear better.

So last Thursday, I showed up for dress rehearsal all “set”! Andrew handed me the neck loop, plus the cordless microphone I would be using myself. I figured I was in good hands. However, his next question took me by surprise.

“Do you want to hear everything, or just voice parts?”

I gave him a “duh” kind of look, and grinned out, “Well everything of course!”

Well, to give Andrew credit he DID pause a moment before continuing his explanation. “You do understand that means you’ll hear music, drums, and every single cordless microphone on every single participant? Both drama and music?”

Ok. So his skeptical look made me think that perhaps I should think about this more carefully. “Will everyone else hear the music too?”

He replied, “Sure! They’ll hear everything, but remember that YOU will hear everything said into the mics through your t-coil.”

Feeling pretty self-assured this was what I wanted I answered, “Well Andrew that means I’ll hear BETTER than they will!”

He grinned at my quip, but I must confess I could still see the “you don’t know what you’re asking” in his look!

Ok! Everyone’s in their places and I’m first up. This was simply a “walk through”, and everyone seemed to really be just walking around ALL OVER, unless they were directly involved in what was being discussed next. I simply walk across the stage after the solo, which I could hear clearly through my t-coils. I couldn’t hear the “end” of the song itself, but the bass players were in on the instrumental for my “cue”. So I could hear that perfectly fine. I enter and walk across the stage to the spot where I was to recite my part of the Christmas passage. I was to begin when I first see the children who were “Mary and Joseph” at the end of the sanctuary. The first line was to take me 8-10 seconds.

There they were! So I began, “In those days Caesar Augustus, (“wow! Did you see Mrs. Portis’s cords! How come she has more cords than we do?” “Be quiet silly! Those are her ear cords! She can’t hear without them! My dad says she is WIRED FOR SOUND”) issued a decree that a census should be taken (“Stop messing with my wings! I’m gonna tell MOM!” “Well you’re getting glitter all over me! Shepherds aren’t suppose to sparkle!”)

And my friends! By this point 30 seconds had gone by! I know my face must have had a sort of horrid fascination plastered all over it! Andrew, always ready to help must have caught sight of my dropped jaw. Of course it could be that as no one was speaking, he realized something was wrong too! He ran up the aisle and asked, “You want it all off?”

I shook my head a very frantic YES! Ok! Hearing everything is not all it’s cracked up to be! “Yes, please! I can hear the children in the back while they are waiting! I’ve completely forgotten my lines!”

He ran back to his huge soundboard and flipped a bunch of switches. He mouthed, “Try your mic”. So I started again……

In those days Caesar Augustus, (We sing holy, holy, holy…….Noel! Noel!) issued a decree that a census should be taken (Angels proclaim the story….) Well I stopped cold. The vocals were on stage practicing! GRIMACE! Didn’t they know they were in my head? (Of course they didn’t!) I shook my head “nope not working” and tapped my hearing aids. Andrew jogged up to me and said, “I think you should just have YOUR mic on while you are speaking. After your part, I can switch everything else back on! I can even time it where everyone’s mic is only on if they have a part coming up next!” Well for heaven’s sake! Why didn’t he say so? J But my part? What part? Like I knew my lines NOW?! GRIN!

Anyway, I have decided that ALD’s are a great thing! You just have to know what you are asking for! Tomorrow’s the big day! I certainly hope I can get past my first line!

Denise Portis
©2006 Hearing Loss Diary

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