Is there a category for noise trauma? There is PTSD as a result of war, natural disaster, and other sorts of trauma – why not noise?
I went to a large suburban mall which shall remain nameless to meet my daughter’s family at a Rainforest Restaurant. Being an avid photoblogger, I got there early to find a few photo ops. Bad decision.
While I’ve heard that many malls were almost empty on the 24th, this one was packed. Christmas music was blasting over the loudspeakers. People were shouting over the loudspeakers in every known language of the world and put me in mind of the biblical story of the Tower of Babel. The vendors in the middle of the hallways were hawking their wares.
Suddenly I realized I could not understand anything at all – not one word. The entire sound sound picture had just turned to mud. Sometimes I ducked into stores that seemingly were playing their own Christmas music at high volume as well. I fiddled with my hearing aid – it has a few settings. Considered taking it out. Shrugged and kept going. It ended up being a surreal experience. So much noise. So little ability to comprehend anything.At one point I was walking down a hall when a young female vendor literally jumped in front of me – startling the bejesus out of me – and began yammering in my general direction while shoving something at me. At this point, something snapped and I started signing at her – not in a particularly nice “tone of voice” – about my being deaf and not wanting to hear from her unless she could sign. I plead temporary insanity since I then shoved past her and stalked off.
I did stop and buy two loaves of bread from a very nice vendor who worked with me, stepping up close when I asked, speaking clearly and distinctly when I told him I could not hear, and very gently helping me sort out what I wanted. It was the highlight of my experience. Yes, I realize going out on the 24th was insane, but I wanted to see the grandkids.
The Rainforest Restaurant (Cafe?) is a cacophony of sounds from the elephants to the hooting primates to the faux thunderstorms and god knows what else. The elephants made small children scream and cry, so apparently I’m not the only one disturbed by the noise. Before the meal was ordered I was popping Tylenol like candy and finally took out my hearing aid. I couldn’t understand much of what was being said, but at least it was at a much lower volume. I got to visit with my daughter and oldest granddaughter – sort of. The younger kids were an hour late and the little guy was out of sorts and almost asleep by the time we decamped. By the time I got home I was so exhausted that I went to bed at 7:30 p.m.
I honestly do not understand how “hearies” do it. Aieee! I very much miss having a hearie with me who can understand it all.