Dear Annie: I am a doctor and have a friend whom I see at medical conferences once or twice a year. We first met five years ago, and we get along great, especially because there was a time when we female doctors were rare. However, our friendship is very casual, and I don’t really consider her a close friend. I just think of her as someone I enjoy hanging out with during the conferences.
The problem is that when I sent her an email suggesting we get together for our usual luncheon on the opening day of the conference, she never replied. I’m not sure whether I offended her, though I honestly can’t think of anything I did that could have made her upset. I’ll admit that my feelings are hurt, and I’m even thinking about not going to the next conference, but then I think that’s silly. I am writing to see whether you have any suggestions. – Scratching My Head
Dear Scratching: You should pick up the phone and call her. It is possible she never even saw your email. If she did, I’m sure there is a reasonable explanation for why she didn’t reply. If, for some reason, you did offend her, she can explain that to you, and you can decide whether to apologize or, if you think she’s wrong, look for a new luncheon partner at your conferences.
Dear Annie: I am disheartened by the letters I read about individuals who are suffering from hearing loss and refuse to seek assistance. When I incurred the trauma of going deaf, I was sure my situation was hopeless. My hearing aids were useless, and I was not a candidate for the surgical interventions that have given many others the ability to hear. I could not have been more wrong in my belief that I would never hear again. With the patient assistance of a doctor of audiology and my ENT specialist, I can now function reasonably well. The advances in technology are remarkable.
To the hearing-impaired individual, I would say, “Be patient.” It takes time to adjust. At first, the “new” sounds you hear may seem annoying, but they were part of your life prior to your hearing loss. Secondly, be sure to see a well-regarded ENT specialist and a qualified audiologist. They can offer options that far exceed what most people know to exist.
Of equal importance is the understanding of family and friends. Mine make sure they have my attention before speaking to me. They don’t begin talking while walking away or not facing me. They make allowances for my seating at a table or in a room, knowing that having a wall behind me – so light will illuminate their faces – is a big help. On the phone, they speak slowly and clearly, especially when leaving a voice message.
Being hard of hearing is a challenge for both the affected individuals and those with whom they interact. It requires effort by all involved. In my opinion, it is selfish for the hearing-impaired to not endeavor to maximize their hearing with whatever works for them. It is equally selfish for their family and friends to not attempt to accommodate the additional considerations that may help. They are cheating themselves and their family and friends of fuller and richer interactions. I am blessed to have a superb “hearing team” and an understanding group of family and friends, but I took the effort to get help and to educate others about my specific needs. – T.L. Wagner
Dear T.L. Wagner: Thank you for your insightful and eloquent letter.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book is available as a paperback and e-book. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.