Linda McDonald-Brown

I’ve tried to ignore it as long as possible and make jokes about it, but there’s no getting away from the fact: I seem to be becoming hard of hearing! No surprise, probably, to my friends who for the past two or three years are used to turning up the volume when they talk to me, or my husband, who has now given up trying to discuss something with me across the pig pens – instead he is waiting until he is back in the house and face to face.

I’ve tried all the usual things to try to improve things: dropped a little bit of olive oil into my ears to loosen any wax, been to a beautician and had my ears candled – which, despite how it sounds, is quite a pleasant treatment – and squirted some specialist liquid into my ears, which on impact proceeded to pop like popcorn in a microwave, causing my ears to tickle.

Nothing changed.

Crowded place are a nightmare if I have to hold a conversation so I try to avoid them. In fact, if I’m honest, I struggle to hear whole sentences anywhere where there is noise of any sort. Pubs are now places my husband and I go to have a drink and peoplewatch rather than talk to one another.

Funnily enough, all those years I would go into a pub and see couples like us sitting there not talking. I assumed it was because they had nothing left to say to one another, when, in fact, it was probably because one or both of them were hard of hearing.

I’m aware that often my face has a blank look as I try hard to process what someone is saying to me, but honestly how many times can you reasonably expect a person to repeat themselves? Older people with strong accents are the worst: I really struggle to understand to work out what they are talking about.

Mind you, I’m not surprised my hearing is going, loud discos and – when I was a student – rock concerts (the louder the better) were a 
favourite of mine. If you didn’t come out of the concert with a ringing in your ears, it hadn’t been a good one. My parents used to say, “Wear earplugs, you’ll regret it.” I wish I had listened to them!