I've been a drummer since I was 10. I've not always played heavy metal, but that's the genre of music I enjoy the most and what I've played the most.
I've played huge festivals in Europe and played dive bars with 10 people attending, and I've played everything in between.
Needless to say, the volume of the music has taken its toll on me over the years. Now, I will sit at a table and often the conversation sounds like this to me:
"Mumpf got duada to bring sows forny to data com. Never dews som hurf at do ada compf. Swick nerns fwap cold rotten sur any food, so catta my del rio."
"I bought a new cow behind the trading stamp tomorrow, so I could ferns the twop as soon as the lighthouse shirt my paper. It was awesome to see the cold blow stroll together. Have you ever been there?"
Then they'll look at me and appear to expect a response.
"Huh? What? You got your panties in a bunker and the grill rolled down hill? Is that what you said?"
I laugh and try to say something that I hope is applicable. "No, I haven't. Was it cool?"
Often, I get a look that says I ended up saying something that wasn't quite appropriate to the conversation, or that makes it appear that I really wasn't listening to them.
After a while, it gets irritating and inconvenient for people to put forth so much effort just to try to have a conversation with me. I understand that. Having a conversation with someone shouldn't take that much effort.
And, I get tired of asking people to repeat something...sometimes three or four times. Sometimes asking them to spell the word I can't quite discern. It makes a conversation...tedious.
For me, losing my hearing has been a catastrophe. I love conversation. I love talking about things and sharing views and hearing different opinions about stuff. I enjoy seeing what people get passionate about or discovering what things they really aren't interested in.
The hearing destruction I've suffered over the years is mostly in a certain mid-range frequency that makes it difficult for me to discern and decipher actual words. I can hear sounds okay. I simply can't understand the words...hence, the sample of what I hear as written above.
Plus, the Tinnitus. A constant ringing in my ears. It never goes away. It's always there. Sometimes louder than others, but never gone. Ringing.....ringing....always. Constant. I never know true silence. I never have a moment without that constant ringing. From the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, ringing. Always ringing. Sometimes so loud it keeps me awake at night.
Sometimes the ringing is the sole reason I can't hear anything or discern what people are saying to me. It does get loud at times. Always there. Always ringing. Always impeding my ability to hear and discern spoken words.
If there is background music playing, or the general ambient noise of traffic or people or just the noise of the city, it hinders my ability to discern conversation. If I'm in a crowded room or a bar trying to understand what someone is saying to me...forget it. The white noise added to the constant ringing in my ears just further muddles the words that are attempting to register in my auditory process, and it simply adds to the distortion.
Often I'll be sitting at a table with a group of people, all talking and sharing...and I'll be sitting there, in my relative solitude of muddled sounds and picking up half sentences here and there and constant ringing, looking around at the decor or watching people. I'm not trying to look aloof nor am I uninterested in what people are talking about. And I try not to obviously look like that guy who's all alone in a crowded room. I want to be included. I often wish I were. I simply can't hear anything anyone is saying, and I have no idea what you're talking about. And, yes, usually, I wish I did know what you were talking about. I do want to be included. But I understand including me is often inconvenient, sometimes a struggle, and it's easier just to carry on a normal conversation with people who can naturally hear you just fine.
And if I seem frustrated, I'm not frustrated with you. I'm frustrated that I really want to understand what you're saying to me, and I can't. That can be very frustrating. So much so that, sometimes, I just give up...which can seem off-putting to the person trying to talk to me.
For a musician, hearing loss is a curse. For someone who enjoys conversation as much as I do, it's a horrible malady. For everyone else trying to have a conversation with me under even the slightest adverse conditions, it's a pain in the ass.
And I understand that.
My saving grace is that, if I'm in a quieter environment, or someone is close enough to me and talking directly to me, I usually have little or no problem carrying on a conversation...which really is most of the time. I am thankful for that.
I've lost 50% of my hearing in one ear and 70% in the other. And I try not to burden my friends with my hearing problem. I don't expect anyone to make allowances for my hearing loss. I try to cope as best I can, and I believe I succeed...at least to a certain extent...sometimes.
So, crank up the music, laugh loud, talk to me as you would anyone else. Just please understand that I may not actually be understanding what you're saying to me or asking me, and if my answer seems a bit "off" to you, that's why. I'm responding to what I thought you said or what I thought you asked, and not actually to what you did say or ask.
And besides, sometimes the things I think I hear are hilarious. So it's my own little private joke among a crowd of people.
"Huh? What? You got your niggle in a carport and now your mice are running free?"