By Al Laframboise
I gave a speech on June 10, 2005 at the Georgia Peach Cochlear Implant (GPCIA) Retreat with the title ‘How To Improve Your Hearing’. The contents of this article (and that speech) represent good, valid information for individuals who receive new hearing aids or new Cochlear Implants. But, like any information that is valid, it is limited in its use. That is to say the information is valid if once upon receipt of the hardware, it has proven that the hardware delivered what was promised.
That promise is to deliver sound to the person receiving the hardware. All too often, people receiving such hardware are under the impression that the ability to understand speech has been promised, but that is not true.
It is my aim to point out to people that the hardware is magic when it provides sound (within the range of speech), to individuals who could not hear that sound without such hardware. It is also my aim to point out that reception of sound does not mean that speech recognition is also magic. NOTE: There is a difference between delivering sound and understanding speech!
So, when I say that it is not magic, I mean that speech recognition is not immediate with the introduction of new hardware. At the same time with proper techniques, the ability to recognize speech can be restored. This process of recognizing speech with the new hardware will be explored in the article. Accomplishment of that goal is sort like a paradox, ‘When speech is restored, it truly is magic’. The trouble with producing this particular magic is that it takes time and effort to make it happen.
Most of this article is devoted to what I said (or should have said) during the speech that I gave. The pictures which you see here are copies of the slides which I displayed at that time.
I want to start by pointing out that the people you see on the first slide are happy.
I am going to call them the happy people. Well the happy people are that way because they concentrate on the positive aspects of what they hear as opposed to the negative aspects of what they do not hear. A positive attitude is one of the most helpful items toward improving your hearing. At the same time something that will delay your achievement of comfort in speaking with others is having a lot of negative thoughts in your mind relentlessly saying to you ‘I did not hear that’. Of course, it is not your fault. Or is it? It is easy to place the blame on anything but yourself. For example:
The speaker does not articulate properly
There are too many people speaking at the same time
The speaker has an unusual accent
The speaker has a mustache or beard
The speaker keeps putting turning away or putting a hand over their lips
Give up this type of thinking and just concentrate on what you yourself can accomplish. It might remove the frown from your face.
Every time, people recognize words spoken to them, there is an echo in their minds that says ‘I HEARD THAT’, ‘I HEARD THAT’, I HEARD THAT’. It is this reinforcement that strengthens the knowledge in their minds that they are hearing better every day. This is something that I hope that you will aim for. It is simple to do this. Just in the beginning, you need to be conscious of repeating that positive thought in your head. After time passes, it becomes automatic and reinforces your positive attitude.
With the proper techniques and constant practice, you will reach a point where you can shout ‘I HEAR BETTER EVERY DAY!’ I guarantee that it will put a smile on your face.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ME
I began to lose my hearing way back in 1954 when I was in the Army. Of course, that is my picture in the slide. The drawing is something that I asked my son to create. I simply told him that I wanted a peach with a Cochlear Implant. Both of us are smiling because we hear better every day. I have become attached to the picture and wanted to share it with you.
I think that it is important to point out that I am not a hearing professional of any sort. I am not a doctor. I am not an audiologist. I do not work in any environment that would qualify me as even being associated with the profession. Why is this important, you ask? The question becomes ‘What am I?’ The answer is that I am one of you. I am someone who has over 50 years of hearing loss. Although I did not lose 100% of my hearing immediately, today when I remove my implant, there is no sound that is available to me. In fact, by the time that I qualified for an implant, my loss was such that hearing aids were not much help. I relied heavily upon lip reading. But that is just progress in the wrong direction.
However, when I was first ‘hooked up’, I found that I could recognize a large amount of words immediately. For anyone not familiar with the term ‘hooked up’, I will explain. Cochlear Implants are basically made of two components.
1. The first component is added via surgery and is under the skin not visible to anyone.
2. The second component is the speech processor which is the visible part that you can see especially on the peach that my son drew for me. This consists of a magnet that connects to the internal first component, and also either a waist-worn processor or a behind-the ear component that looks very much like an ordinary hearing aid.
There is usually about a 30 day wait between surgery and the connection of the speech processor which is sometimes referred to as being ‘hooked up’. Being “hooked up” is actually an activity that the audiologist works up for your particular hearing loss. It is a series of individual settings on your speech processor that works only for you. It’s important that you and your audiologist work together to identify the range of settings that will provide the best sound for your particular needs.
Until you have the speech processor hooked up, no sound is available via a cochlear implant. Also, when you remove the external part of your speech processor, you can not hear sounds.
It’s important to realize that recognizing words immediately after being hooked up is not the norm. However, there is a whole range of sounds that you can perceive immediately, for example, doorbells, telephones, microwave beeps, sounds from your computer or refrigerator or icemaker, bird sounds, car horns, sirens from emergency vehicles. You may even be hearing the sound of people speaking, though you may not be able to recognize the words they are saying.
The far side of the spectrum is that while the implant has provided sound, it has not provided recognizable or understandable words. This can also be true of hearing aids.
Sound, without the ability to recognize words is nothing but noise.
The most important step, at the beginning, is to work with your Audiologist. Communication is the most important key. What do you hear? Tell the Audiologist what you think. Keep notes between sessions to ensure that you are really telling it like it is. If the equipment needs adjustment, then working together is the only way to adjust the equipment properly. Your Audiologist has equipment to verify that you hear sound within the range to recognize speech. This can be established right in that office, but it’s important to remember that your audiologist is not able to hear what you hear. Audiologists rely on the individual to provide feedback on what is heard or not heard, and adjustments will then be based on your feedback.
Your ability to recognize some sounds as some words is a different subject.
When was the last time that you actually heard words? I expect that you lost your hearing gradually. If that is true, then what happened was that portions of the sound of each word were lost a little at a time. This continued until you were no longer able to recognize most words. Unconsciously, you had to do something in order to adjust during this period. Most likely what you did was identify the partial sound with lip reading in order to comprehend whatever someone said to you. Perhaps you were able to hear the vowels, but had to lip-read the consonants.
Although this technique helped you communicate with people and provided the “missing links” or parts of words you could not hear, the result of that technique is that you may forget what some words actually sound like. Just think about how every day the same word sounded different, but your lip reading adjusted for the difference. It’s also possible that you watched people’s facial expressions and body language to “fill in the blanks” or relied on your knowledge of the particular topic under discussion.
These are all valid methods to compensate for what you could not hear, but now that you have an implant, much of those missing sounds have been restored. This calls for another adjustment, but one without lip reading. Remember, the subject is how to improve your hearing. The only way to accomplish this is working with the sound you hear andyou’re your brain interprets that sound.
So, it becomes a choice on your part. Do you want to continue your comprehension based upon the partial sound of a word accompanied with lip reading? If that is true, then just do not wear the implant. You see, now you have the ability to hear more of the sound of a given word. You are going to have to adjust to the new equipment, and that adjustment is going to take time, effort, work and practice on your part!
IF THE EQUIPMENT WORKS, BUT I STILL DO NOT UNDERSTAND SPEECH, WHAT ELSE COULD BE THE PROBLEM?
Let me make up a few fictional percentages. Prior to your new equipment, perhaps you were actually hearing 10% of the sound that a word sounds like. Now, with the new equipment you may actually be receiving 90% of the sound of each word. Unless, you were able to hear 100% originally and also contained a magnificent memory, it is doubtful that you will remember what each word sounds like now.
Just based upon that point, words sound different and you may recognize some, but you do not recognize all of them. They sound different today. No wonder, you do not recognize them!
It is not just words. Music is different! All sound is different. As an example, you may hear a sound and not be able to identify it immediately. You may walk through the house, exploring rooms and finally realize that the sound you hear is your own footsteps, or water percolating in the coffee pot, or the washing machine has just started the rinse cycle. The situation is that you have to learn what different things sound like today. That is a key point to all of this. I want to rephrase that.
‘WHAT EVER YOU HEAR OF ANY WORD OR SOUND, THEN, THAT IS WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE TODAY’!
YOU MUST LEARN TO RECOGNIZE THE ASSOCIATION BETWEEN A SOUND AND WHAT EVER THAT SOUNDS MEANS.
The critical path here is the choice of words “That is what it sounds like today”.
Does that make sense to you? You must understand that no-one has the ability install within you the ability to recognize words and other sounds. This is an ongoing process that you must perform for yourself.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND
In order to start helping yourself, it is best to remember how you learned to listen (and speak) in the first place. For some of you that might have been a long time ago. I can offer a short cut that may provide the same insight. Even if you do not have children, most likely you were exposed to children in other families.
Remember your excitement when your child has said its first word? “Ma Ma” might have been the first word, I’m guessing. Now what really happened is that your child had been hearing sound for a long period of time. But what had been happening until that magical first word was that the baby had no idea of what the sounds meant. Finally, there was some association between the sound and what that sound meant. The light bulb went off in the child’s head and the word “Ma Ma” finally meant something. Because it meant something, the child was able to repeat that sound with the knowledge that the sound actually referred to its mother. Just like my description of the process here, it took a long time getting there and that is just the beginning.
After that on a daily basis, your child learned to express a new word. Some days there was more than one new word. But at any rate, the important point here is that your child had learned to convert the sound into something meaningful.
We call that words. As we say the horse is in front of the cart. First you must hear the sound. Second you must be able to recognize the meaning of that sound.
I am implying something here. It sounds like a lot of work. It sounds like it may take a long time. I will tell you the truth. It may just do that, but if you hear even a little bit better everyday, at some point you are going to hear pretty darn well.
Understand now that what I call “hearing” is a combination of receiving sound and making sense out of that sound. As such hearing is a learned activity. You learned to hear when you were young. You may learn to hear again, but it may not happen automatically or quickly. If it does require work on your part then say, “I am ready for that work. I have nothing to loose. I have a lot to gain.”
It would be very nice if hearing equipment worked the same way that glasses work. When I get new glasses I just put them on and I can see perfectly. If that were true of an implant then I could go to my audiologist and say, ‘I am planning a trip to Italy, could I borrow an Italian speech processor for the time I am there?’ Funny? Then why do you expect that there is an English processor available for you?
It will help to understand that you may just be one of those people who has to work hard and practice long hours or days or months before you can understand the words that you are hearing through your cochlear implant or hearing aids.
WHAT DOES THE BRAIN DO?
I do not want to investigate all the things that our brains really can do. The subject matter could take years to explain. It is also unfair to expect that you want to investigate everything that is possible during one sitting. For my part, I do not know enough of the brain functions to even list them in general terms. But I want to explain what we both know the brain does in regard to hearing. I mean this. We both know these things. It is just that most of the time, we are not thinking about them.
To start with, we know that the brain is capable of taking in sound and making sense out of that sound. I am referring to the ability to recognize words. I tend to think of the brain as containing some sort of gigantic look-up table. On one side of the table is a list of all the sounds that you have ever heard. Right next to that sound is whatever you think that particular sound means. It makes it easier for me to understand the hearing process when I think that it functions in that manner. It does not actually work that way, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s assume it does. I am simply looking for a way to grasp what is going on when I receive sound. An example of this function is: You receive the sound ‘DING” and you immediately think of a bell. Well that is straightforward enough, but you must then make sure that the same sort of function will work for words.
There are some problems associated with this logic. For example, everyone’s voice actually sounds different. Does this mean that word list has just become much larger? An entry for each persons voice for each word? Perhaps there is a set of entries for the sounds each person makes? I don’t know about that. The end result is the same. You hear a sound and it means something to you. This is true even if the sound simply means noise.
Let us think about what I will call impediments to this process. Not everyone that speaks enunciates the same word in exactly same manner. An example of the differences that one may encounter is the introduction of accents. A southern accent will produce one sound while a German accent will produce a different sound for the same word. Understanding what. It simply is not in your memory or in your brain’s ability to convert that accent to something meaningful until you have heard it before, perhaps repeatedly.
Now, let’s introduce that dreadful Background Noise. Background Noise is something we have grown to despise during the long period of hearing loss. But even there, it has changed as we lost tones over a long period of time. Now it is back in full glory. What is also back is your memory of getting upset when it comes at a time that you’re trying to hear again.
So we can accept that there are impediments such as background noise and unclear speech. These impediments are real negatives and sometimes really upsetting. BUT, and I do mean BUT people with normal hearing seem to overcome these impediments. Let’s talk about that one point and try to understand why some people can ignore background noise and others can’t.
People with normal hearing have more in common with the hearing impaired (with new hardware) than they lack. We both have some sort of ability to convert sounds to meanings of sounds. Simple stuff like bells and bombs are easily recognized by both groups. However, one of the things they have that we do not is time. During their early development they had the time to learn how to adjust to sound impediments. Without knowing what this ability is I prefer to think of it as something that functions in the same manner as a well developed muscle. For now, I will call it the “overcoming-impediments-muscle”.
Take a look at well-developed athletes. No matter what sport they are in, their muscles have been built to make playing that sport fun. When I look at these athletes, I think of how they are lifting weights and bending and running and what ever else is required to stay in shape. I occasionally get to look at some people who have been retired for some many years. They look out of shape. They have not been engaging in lifting weights and bending and running and what ever else is required to stay in shape. So today, they cannot engage in the very sport that had been fun years ago. Of course, I do not expect that they would want to.
During the time that you learned to hear, you spent many many hours building the “overcoming-impediments-muscle”. But as time passed, you began to lose your hearing. As you lost your hearing, there was a point in time that you ceased exercising that all important “overcoming-impediments-muscle”.. Sure, you can say ‘If you do not use it, then you will lose it.’ But, now that we have sound (because of the implant), we want this all important muscle to return to full speed immediately. It just does not work that way. You have to start with conscious effort and build up to full speed all over again.
The one thing you have to believe is that the ability to overcome impediments to sound is not lost forever. However, it is up to you to be aware that you have the choice to redevelop that ability all over again. This redevelopment must be a conscious effort in the beginning, but after a while, it will work easily without your conscious effort. One day you will suddenly become aware that you have been hearing things easily, without that conscious effort!
The best approach is to think first about background noise. You have two choices in how you want to have your brain react to background noise.
1. You can react very badly. You can say ‘That !@#$%^#@ background noise. I cannot hear what you are saying.’
2. You can say ‘Oh boy, background noise again. I am just going to ignore it and concentrate on the sounds which I want to hear. I am going to just purposely ignore this background noise.’
In the beginning, this will require a lot of effort while you develop your “overcoming-impediments-muscle”. Yes, it will work. Yes, it is work, but just think about the payoff. Yes, you can develop this muscle even if you have not developed it in the past.
So, now, let’s talk about other things which you can do to improve your hearing.
WHERE DO I START?
I may just be cheap, but my mind works toward using approaches that do not cost money with a second choice being something that is very low cost. I have no idea what costs are involved in getting audio support from your manufacturers, but they do provide some alternatives. Some audiologists also provide alternatives which may or may not be cheap. I would recommend that you look into these possibilities so you will be able to make good decisions.
The approaches that I am suggesting here are based upon your being unsuccessful with word recognition as of the day of your hookup. The suggestions indicate a progression of steps. If you were able to distinguish words on the day of your new ear, then simply jump to the step where you feel is most appropriate.
A friend of mine was not able to recognize words at the moment of hookup. She had been deaf from the age of 3 and had no real memory of what any word sounded like. She was able to lip read, so that conversation before the implant was possible. Even though she had a severe hearing loss, such conversation falls into the category of successful communication. Remember, successful communication is not necessarily successful hearing.
The first approach was to get a tape recorder (which she had ). With this equipment, she recorded just words but no phrases. She also kept a written list of what the words were and what sequence they were on the tape. She entered these into a computer (using EXCEL). All the words were listed in the left column. The remaining columns were used to keep score. So she printed the excel pages. Then she listened to the tape over and over again. Each time that she listened, she kept score. Did she recognize that word? The answer was either yes or no. Did she recognize parts of words? She did this multiple times every day for several months. At the bottom of the columns was a simple math percentage of how many were correctly heard, either the whole word or part of a word. Finally, when the percentiles were consistently in the 85% range, she realized she was no longer making any improvement and decided agreed to move to the next step.
The next step was to purchase an audiotape called “English as a Second Language.” This program consisted of both audiotapes and a booklet which contained the written text of everything spoken on the audiotapes. She took one lesson at a time until she again reached a plateau, then moved on to the next lesson. This step took her about six weeks.
She then realized that she was ready to work on more advanced listening and went to the library. There is a portion of the Public Library called LIBRARY FOR THE BLIND. This department provides free matter for the blind or physically handicapped. In most towns, there is one of these departments located in the main branch. If your town does not have one, do not get stressed out. Ask people at your main library how to contact the proper people who will handle this. You rarely will have to go there anyway. Everything is mailed for free. That is correct; there is no postage charge in either direction. You can also access this department from your computer by going to their website http://www.loc.gov/nls/ .
WHERE DO I START?
I do not want to explain all of the LIBRARY FOR THE BLIND’S functions but the parts that we are interested in are a tape player and books on tape. Both are free. The library has thousands of books on tape. The player and all the books should be returned to the library when you no longer need them. If you move, just provide a change of address. They also provide catalogues of what books are available and will contact other libraries around the country to obtain a particular book for you. One special thing I’d like to mention is that the tape players they provide have many controls, including the ability to change the narration speed and outlets for patch cords to your cochlear implant or head phones.
I suggest that you start with books which you are familiar with. In the beginning, you could even choose children’s books. I understand that there are also a great many books on tape in your local stores but they cost money. Feel free to spend your money. After all, it is good for the economy. Now in the beginning, you may want to consider having a printed copy of the book in front of you as a sort of support. Is what you read, that which you heard? Only you can know for sure. If you do not feel that you understood the majority of the book on tape, by all means rewind and repeat. It is not necessary to wait until you have attempted to listen to the entire book. Rewind the tape anytime that you are in the mood to rewind. Rewind only for the amount of tape that you want to rewind. Be flexible; be comfortable, after all you have a lot to give yourself. One other thing to remember is that your brain will get tired just as any other muscle will, so be prepared to stop for a while. It’s okay to take a break!
I must warn you that not everyone who provides the voice for a book on tape has a wonderful clear voice. My friend found that she could understand the words better if she reduced the speed of the narration, essentially giving her brain time to process the new information she was hearing. She also found that she could understand some narrators better than others, and initially selected only female narrators because their voices were in the range where she could hear best. Another potential problem is that some of the tapes may be old and you’ll hear a lot of static and interference. Now, you have a few choices at this point that relate to where you are located on the measurement stick of progress.
If you have just begun to listen to books on tape, then keep a record of what book is difficult to understand so you can return to the same book when your progress says that you are now ready to exercise your “overcoming-impediments-muscle”. For the moment, pass on this book and listen to people who you think speak clearer. However, if you have progressed far enough on the measurement stick of progress, then say to yourself, ‘This is an excellent time for me to do some exercise. It may require listening to this more than once, but by golly, I am going to understand what this person is speaking’.
Continue to listen to books on tape as long as they make you happy. Choose books that you might enjoy. Stop reading along only when you feel comfortable doing that. One thing about listening to books on tape is that there is no opportunity to lip read. This means that you actually hear.
How well do you hear on the telephone?
Another possible approach toward exercising your ability to hear is to get a list of 800 telephone numbers (www.inter800.com) which produce a fair amount of advertising. If the messages do not contain advertising, there will be at least a fair amount of pre-recorded messages. Call the numbers! Listen to the messages. Listen to them over and over again. Come on! Sooner or later you will smile.
There are software packages available for your computer which will show the printed word and voice that word. If you like that approach, then use the approach. Your manufacturers also provide some form of audio-therapy. None of this is magic unless you take part in your own improvement. Do the work, create the magic!
MUSIC IS BEAUTIFUL
If you ever had any type of normal hearing, then some sort of music made you feel good. Whether that music was from a music box, classical or popular music, it just enlightened your desire to enjoy the world. You may have lost the ability to listen to it in the past, but the good news is that it is recoverable. It is all up to you. The effort is not much different than the effort to exercise your “overcoming-impediments-muscle”. It requires conscious effort and it requires repetition. Magic only occurs if you work at it.
The best way to start is by choosing to listen to those songs which you are familiar with. These songs could be what you may call children’s songs or just possibly old Christmas songs like Jingle Bells. I can remember when my children started to learn how to play musical instruments in high school. Over and over, my son practiced Jingle Bells. ‘Toot toot toot, Toot toot toot, Toot toot toot, Toot toot toot toot toot’. It worked for him. Now make it work for you.
Go to a piano and just press down on middle ‘C’. Whether you recognize it or not, that is what middle “C” sounds like today. Accept that fact! Stay with listening to easy music until you are satisfied that you recognize these tunes every time you hear them. The next step is to listen to the music that you once loved. Listen to it over and over again until you enjoy listening to it every time you hear it. One word of caution is that you may find yourself thinking that what you hear is not what the particular musical piece really sounds like.
One other suggestion is to initially select songs played by a single instrument or sung by an individual singer. It will be easier to hear and recognize the words and the melody. When you find that you’re easily recognizing both words and melodies, then by all means progress to more complicated versions involving multiple singers doing harmony (like barber shop quartets!) or orchestral versions of songs you know.
Think about the subject of memory. Is it at all possible that the sounds within your memory are the sounds that come with some point during your gradual hearing loss. Yes, it is what you remember. But, it is not necessarily a memory of all the tones in the scale that were available. It is your job to accept what music sounds like today. Discard your memory of the past. Enjoy what you hear today! If you keep searching for the past with a faulty memory, you will never enjoy the beautiful sounds available to you today.
I love to listen to Rhapsody in Blue. Occasionally, my mind speaks out and says that this is not the music I listened to 50 years ago. I respond to my mind with “GIVE ME A BREAK, I LOVE LISTENING TO THIS”.
There really are all kinds of assistive listening devices available for us. Patch cords are available for listening to books and music. There are also patch cords available for using telephones. There is closed captioning available for television. There are many lectures aimed for the hearing impaired which provide open captioning.
All assistive listening devices are aimed to improve communication. I think that they all do the job for which they are intended. In the early use of implants these devices can prove to be true crutches which support your step into the hearing world. The key word here is crutches.
If you have the experience of a broken leg then you know that crutches serve their purpose. There was a time when your leg bone healed and the crutches were no longer needed. The same is true with assistive listening devices. You are at a stage where you are learning how to hear again. Look forward to the day that you do not require crutches to hear. The period that covers the time until you do not need the devices must be called something, however for lack of a word, I am going to call this period your ‘development phase’. Let’s take a good look at how to use these devices.
There are really two types of television captioning available. The first type is the captioning that is available for watching movies and pre-recorded shows. The second type is what you see for what you might call watching sports and live shows such as news. I like to call the second type ‘live’ captioning. For default, I call the first type dead captioning.
When you are watching pre-recorded captioning, you can glue your mind to the combination of what you hear and what you see. As long as what you hear matches what you see, you can consider this a sort of reinforcement exercise. An even greater reinforcement happens when the written words and the sound do not match. Your mind must immediately say ‘Hey that is not what he/she said’. This tells you one thing. Yes, it tells you that you can hear. So whether the sound and voice match or whether they do not match, you can say ‘I can hear!’
Live captioning is a different situation. Prior to the captioner producing results, they must hear what was said. If you ever watched a session of the United Nations, the interpreter is producing English after the individual speaking has said something in a different language. I am amazed at how the interpreter can listen to one thing and say something else at the same time. This works the same way as live captioning except that the language spoken and the language seen are the same. If all that you are concerned about is communication, this serves the purpose. However if you are trying to learn to hear, this has to be detrimental to the progress of learning how to hear.
You must make a decision and act upon that decision. Is what is going on important to hear? Is the ability to comprehend what is said more important? Let’s say that hearing what commentators are speaking during a basketball game is not that all important. You decide that
You want to know what they are saying, but the primary thing is to watch the game. If that is true, then either mute the sound on the television or turn your implant off. That way, you will enjoy the game. On the other hand, if you determine that what the commentators are saying presents an opportunity for you to practice your hearing while you are watching the game, then what you must do is shut off the captioning. Then during the game, as you notice what is being said, you can say to yourself ‘I heard that’ ‘I heard that’ ‘I heard that’.
The choice is yours. The point here is not to subject yourself to a situation where you are reading captions that do not agree with what is being said at the same time. For most of us what we will do is to stop listening and accept the noise. That is detrimental to learning how to hear.
As you develop your hearing ability, you must develop your listening ability. I hope that this makes sense. Apply this logic and make decisions every time you are faced with live captioning. This is true when you attend a lecture also.
After all, the captioner must first hear what the speaker has said before it is going to appear on the screen. If you watch the captioning during a lecture, then shut off your implant. Please do this.
I am going to give you a day of rest. That day is today. Tomorrow, you may join with me and become one of the people who can smile and say “I hear better every day!”
This requires a change in attitude. A positive change that says this is going to be work but the results are more than worth the effort. I suppose that some of you say ‘Hey, this is a lot of work’ My answer for you is ‘Yes, it is a lot of work, but I thought that you wanted to improve your hearing. Miracles happen when we work hard at producing them.’ Learning to hear is a miracle that we accomplish when we were at an early age. It is also a miracle that we can create starting today. Are you with me?
I am going to ask you to do something else as part of your new exercising.
Every day, I would like you to look at your spouse and think this.
Every day, I would like you to look at your children and think this.
Every day, I would like you to look at your friends and think this.
I have so much love for you that I plan on improving my hearing every day. I will hear you better. I will communicate better. I will love you more.
Ok, you can start tomorrow if you want.
Take a moment to think about a man named Yogi Berra. You may have seen him in the AFLAC commercials. He is the one who says ‘They give you cash which is just as good as money.’ Yogi has always been known to say some strange things, but at the same time he is a Hall of Fame baseball player. At one point after retirement he was the coach of the New York Yankees.
To my knowledge, he is the only professional catcher who ever accomplished an unassisted double play from that position. In fact, he did that feat more than once. For those who are not familiar with baseball, the situation was that the batter bunted while the runner on third base came running in. He tagged both people. When they interviewed him about this feat, he said ‘I tagged everyone, including the umpire’.
Yogi was also a very good hitter. As with any good hitter in professional baseball, he had slumps. A slump is a period where one is simply unable to get a base hit. One time after a particularly long slump had ended, he was interviewed and in the process of that interview, he was asked if he had any advice for the other players. Typical of Yogi, he simply said ‘Keep on Swinging’.
Why did I tell you this? Well, you are going to have good days and you are going to have bad days as far as improving your hearing. My advice to you?
‘Keep on Swinging’.