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Listening Easier

A day in the life of "Phil" Part 3


7 A.M. Phil’s morning routine


Like many Americans Phil’s age, Phil is a proud veteran.  Ever since Phil was drafted into the U.S. Army, his eyes seem to automatically open around 6 am.  When he retired a few years ago – although Phil is awake at 6 am, he forces himself to stay in bed until around 7 am.  He’s earned it.


Phil’s wife of 43 years, Polly, is already up and has made coffee, enjoying her quiet time in the sunroom.  Saturday mornings at their home Charlotte, NC, are peaceful.  It’s already humid outside and the meteorologist says it’s going to be another hot one.


As Phil finishes his coffee, reading his morning newspaper and clearing his head, he enters his bathroom to brush his teeth.  With the water running, he hears Polly mention something to him, but - he couldn’t quite make it out.  “What was that honey?” he asks as he turns the water off and stops brushing, listening closely. 


Polly was gently reminding him that there’s a fresh load of clean clothes finishing up in the dryer if he needs anything to wear.


“Thanks, Dear,” he replies. 


Sometimes when Phil is doing a task like brushing his teeth, or washing dishes, or sitting in a room with the television on, lately, he can’t quite make out every word Polly says to him. 


Phil is convinced he can hear fine, but Polly just needs to speak up, and not mumble…


8:30 a.m. Breakfast with friends


Every Saturday morning, Phil and Polly meet a group of long-time friends at their favorite spot for a biscuit and enjoy catching up.  They both order the same thing every Saturday morning and look forward to this time, but lately, Phil has begun to quietly dread going out in public settings.  If he’s in a one-on-one conversation with anyone – he seems to have very little trouble communicating.


However, about three years ago, when in noisy places – like a restaurant, for example – Phil has greater difficulty following the conversation.  If he misses a word here and there, he can usually listen closely and catch up. 


If he misses several words or multiple pieces of the conversation, he finds himself completely lost in the discussion.  At this point, rather than try to ask others to repeat what was said (he may do that twice, three times at most…) Phil may just slowly start to fade out of the conversation altogether. 


Other friends may not notice – but Polly certainly does. After 43 years together, Polly doesn’t miss much.


If Phil isn’t asking Polly to repeat what was said, especially when the grandkids or especially other females are talking, communicating seems slightly more difficult.  When males are speaking, Phil seems to have an easier time hearing and understanding.


“Why is that?” Phil wonders.



11:00 a.m. Phil begins a project


After breakfast and now at home, Phil is hanging that new portrait of the grandkids they just received.  The grandkids are his pride and joy.  Polly has asked him a few times to get the portrait hung, but he needed to get the drill and re-position a few other pictures and their frames to make that work, so he needed time to charge the drill and focus.


Deeply engrossed into his morning project, Polly storms around the corner, looking furious and desperate.  “I have been asking you to bring me that dustpan!” she says sternly. 


Phil is surprised and confused.


He responds, “I had this drill running and thought you just had the TV on.  I didn’t realize you were talking to me.”


Scenarios like this are very typical places of friction for Phil and Polly.  They seem to be having more misunderstandings, and Phil is feeling more and more frustrated and isolated because of these episodes. 


Why do things seem so hard nowadays? Why does it feel so difficult to communicate?


7:00 P.M. Evening television


Polly and Phil have invited the kids and grandkids over tomorrow after church for dinner.  Polly has been preparing their favorite food and getting ready most of the afternoon. 


Phil is relaxing in his chair, watching a Jeopardy rerun.  When he and Polly watch TV together, he seems to prefer the volume a notch or two louder than he used to. 


At first, Phil thought they needed a new television, but the kids told him it was working fine. It’s just a little bit loud – not much.   


Incidentally, Phil’s cellphone does the same thing – for some reason, the volume on his phone doesn’t seem loud enough and he has to get Polly or one of the grandkids to raise the volume back up.  Phil has always been good with technology but some of these new cellphones and televisions are more complex than he’s used to.


The combination of frustration with not completely making out what’s being said on the phone, what the people say on the television, what’s being said by Polly and others (mostly females) with higher-pitched voices, leaves Phil exhausted at the end of the day. 


It’s almost like listening so carefully to others talk leaves Phil feeling a little isolated, left-out, and even mentally fatigued.  


Something seems a little off.


Does this sound familiar?


Phil thinks something isn’t right between him and Polly, but can’t put his finger on it.  He feels like he hears fine, but it simply takes more work to make out what people are saying.


Communication between Phil & Polly seems harder than it’s ever been.


Phil hates the thought of it but wonders if it’s time to talk to a doctor.




What’s next


  • In Part 4, we’ll learn to see how the kids and grandkids interact with Phil
    • Why do they seem to leave me out of the conversation and only talk to Polly?”
    • Although the kids and grandkids love their grandparents, find out what they really think about going to visit them.
    • We’ll learn the single, fastest way to improve relations with your spouse (and other loved ones).


This is Part 3 of a 4-part series outlining real-life examples of a fictitious couple named “Phil and Polly” and their day-to-day struggle of living with hearing loss.

Here is Part 1 and Part 2