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The Hidden Costs of Not Understanding - Part 2

Why won’t he just get his hearing checked?

A day in the life of “Polly”  

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This is Part 2 of a 4-part series outlining a real-life example of a fictitious couple named “Phil and Polly” and their day-to-day struggle of living with hearing loss.

7 am Polly’s quiet time

It’s early on a crisp, Saturday morning in Charlotte, NC, and our friend Polly is seated in her favorite chair by the sunroom, sipping a fresh cup of hot coffee, enjoying the peaceful quiet of the summer morning.

It’s Polly’s favorite time of the day.  For years now, she’s made it a practice to enjoy this quiet time to herself, reading her devotions, preparing her ‘To Do’ list for the day, and mentally planning for what’s ahead.

Since Polly retired several years ago, most of her days are spent with her husband, Phil. This fall, they will have been married 43 years.  But, these days, their time together isn’t as fun and full of love as she envisioned this time of their lives would be.  Polly just doesn’t feel as connected to Phil as she once did.

8:30 am 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, Polly has begun to dread going out in public settings with Phil.

Polly noticed about three years ago that in noisy places like restaurants, Phil started asking Polly to repeat what was being said by those in the room.  For example, this morning, while enjoying breakfast with their friends, a funny story about the grandkids was shared and eventually, loud, joyful laughter among the group erupted.  Such good times!  

 Phil finally heard someone say, “Those grandkids will say anything, won’t they?”

After the laughter ended, Phil leaned over to Polly and quietly asked, “What did they just say?”  And of course, Polly obliged like she normally does.  As Polly usually does when Phil asks, she repeated the entire story directly into his “good” ear so Phil could feel included in the conversation. 

Even though Polly knew Phil couldn’t help it – she was beginning to resent having to re-tell things to Phil.  

It was like she was his hearing aid!

Even though Polly knows Phil can’t help it – she’s beginning to resent having to re-tell things to Phil all the time.  

It’s almost like she is his hearing aid!


11:00 am Polly tidies up the house

After breakfast and now at home, Polly does her daily routine of putting away the dishes from last night’s dinner and sweeping the kitchen floor.   The news is at full volume on the TV, and Phil is in his recliner in their adjacent living room, catching up on the latest Carolina Panthers news and reading the newspaper.   

Polly asks Phil from the next room to bring her the dust pan.  Phil just seems to ignore her.  

Polly thinks to herself, “Surely, he can hear me calling him, right?  He’s just ignoring me because he doesn’t want to get up from that chair… I hate it when he does this.”  

“Phil, can you please bring me that dust pan?  Phil?!  Honey, I need that dust pan – can you bring it in here? My hands are full.”  Polly raises her voice and gets louder each time she repeats herself. 

Phil was simply in the next room and not answering!  Frustrated, she sets everything down and gets the dustpan herself. She thinks to herself, “It’s just easier to do this by myself,” and continues her day.

7:00 pm After dinner frustration 

Polly and Phil have invited the kids and grandkids over tomorrow after church for dinner.  It’s been a week or more since they’ve been over and Polly can’t wait to see her grandkids. She’s been preparing their favorite food and getting ready most of the afternoon.  

Polly’s family means the world to her and naturally, she wants everything to be just right. 

As Polly walks by the dining room table, she remembers how cramped they were last time, so she asks Phil, “Can you please put the leaf in the table for tomorrow?  You know we always need the extra room when the kids come.”  

No response from Phil who’s in the other room.  “Phil, did you hear me?  Can we put the leaf in the table?”  Still no response. 

Annoyed and frustrated, and after repeating herself 2-3 times, Polly storms into the living room where Phil is and starts yelling, “WHY are you ignoring me?!?”  

Phil is relaxing in his chair, watching his beloved Jeopardy (at full volume). When confronted by a very frustrated Polly, Phil jumps up out of his chair in total surprise. 

“I didn’t hear you, honey – What’s wrong?  What do you need?” he asks, almost dumbfounded. 

Polly throws her hands up in irritation and surrender. “Never mind. I’ll just get it myself.”  Polly is put out with the entire ordeal.

As she turns to leave the room, she stops and faces Phil and with an edgy, matter-of-fact tone states, “You NEED to get your hearing checked, Phil. I can’t take this much longer.”

Phil responds with a familiar answer, “I hear just fine!  If you all would just speak up and stop mumbling, we could avoid all this!  I mean, why would anybody go to another room and try to ask someone a question anyway? WHY do you always do that, and then get MAD because I didn’t hear you!?!”

Does this sound familiar?

Phil is confused and a little embarrassed. Polly is furious, frustrated and weary.

Phil and Polly don’t feel connected anymore; communication with each other is harder than it’s ever been.

Polly loves Phil with all her heart – after all, they had been sweethearts since they were teenagers, and been together 43 years.  

Although theirs is a love story that’s been through so much, being unable to communicate with Phil because he refuses to get his hearing checked is more than Polly can endure.  

Something has to change.  

What’s next?

In Part 3, we’ll learn how Phil is dealing with his own desperate feelings of isolation.

  • Everyone around him seems to mumble these days!  
  • We’ll look at what’s causing so many misunderstandings between he and Polly. 

In Part 4, we’ll see what a visit to Nanna and Papa’s look like from the kids and grandkids’ perspective.  

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 2 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.  

Click here if you missed Part 1