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“Friends, Romans and Countrymen, Lend me your Ears”

As many will know, I have in my later years suffered from partial deafness. The NHS has been marvellous in supplying hearing aids, but after eight years my old ones are no longer with me, and I have to await a new set of these invaluable aids. This has brought back to me the problems of the hard of hearing for myself, my family and my friends.

Among these is that it is invisible – people cannot see the problem. There is no obvious sign, like a rash, a white stick, a set of crutches, or even a big plaster cast, that broadcasts to others that there is a problem within. Alas, this can provoke a shortness of temper, a patronising tone or even an assumption of a mental lack from others, and even from myself.

It can provoke sometimes comic misunderstanding – like the General who sent a verbal message to the rear “Send reinforcements, we’re going to advance”, going from one messenger to another slightly garbled each time, to end up as “Send three and four pence we’re going to a dance”.

There is hope: Jesus cured the deaf man from Decapolis by touching him, so it’s not something willed on us by God.

How to cope with all this? It is not just a physical problem, but a psychological problem. As Raj Persaud said “coping with any problem is merely a variety of two basic strategies”. You can act so as to remove or diminish what is upsetting you - this is called ‘problem solving’. In my case the physical problem will, eventually, be solved by new hearing aids.

The other strategy is to act on yourself. If you cannot hear, learn to put up with it, and help others to understand the currently unchangeable circumstances. This is emotionally focussed coping. Remember it is a problem for your relatives and friends as well as yourself. Help them; be cheerful “Assume a virtue if you have it not”. Above all keep your temper even if others think you a clod. Remember, of course, that they may be right.

All this is a counsel of perfection but I try to think,” NHS for the first part of the solution, ‘til then grin, and bear it.” The odd prayer will help.

V Costello











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