A few weeks ago, I wrote about a visit to my tech-savvy audiologist Nick, who was going to fit me with new, state-of-the-art hearing aids.
Having chosen the ones that seemed perfect for me, I had to wait a couple of weeks while they were custom-made. Meanwhile, I was very excited, happily anticipating my new tech-gear that would finally revolutionise my life. Or so I thought.
Occasionally, I pushed away a niggling sense that this new pair of hearing aids might not be quite as perfect and life-changing as I anticipated. The feeling of expectancy, after all, was frightfully similar to that which I had experienced before each operation on my face when I was young.
Every time I went under the knife, I nursed a desperate hope that this would be the operation that finally made me whole. And every time I was overcome with a crushing sense of disappointment and failure when looking at my post-op face in the mirror. For although the surgeons and my parents swore there was a noticeable improvement, I didn’t see it. My nose was still wonky, and my lip was still fat. Nothing had changed as far as I was concerned.
By the time I reached my early twenties, I had given up on plastic surgery and made peace with my face. But then I began to obsess about other things – the perfect handbag, the perfect notebook, the perfect diary, the perfect pen, etc. – that would somehow make me complete. Rationally, I knew I was deluding myself, but emotionally I was still holding out for that perfect something.
It’s the same thing with my hearing aids. While they are by far the niftiest, most discrete pair I’ve ever owned, and make the world around me sound much brighter, they are not the perfect device I had hoped they’d be.
For starters, I still can’t stop pushing my fingers into my ears to adjust the fitting of my titanium-made devices. And the notion that I’d simply put them in and then forget they’re there turned out to be completely false. Of course, I feel their presence in my ear canals, and no matter how high-tech they are, they still itch and move around ever so slightly when my jaw moves.
They’re not perfect, but they are still pretty good; the best ones I’ve had, even.
Yet, as with make-up, high-heels, nylon stockings and party dresses, I always feel a profound and liberating sense of relief when I remove my hearing aids at the end of the day. That’s when I feel whole.