Richard Whitehouse: How can I get people to talk into my ‘good’ ear?

Posted on April 27, 2016

I have a curse of the left. I have broken my left elbow, I have had a severe heart condition and I am entirely deaf in my left ear.

While the broken elbow and my heart condition have been correctable, my hearing loss is not.

And added to this, the hearing in my “good” right ear is also deteriorating to the extent that I now wear a hearing aid.

Wearing just one hearing aid can, for me, actually be a bit of a hindrance.

Not for my hearing – since wearing the aid my hearing has been better than it has been for a long time – but more for how it is seen by other people and the illusion it provides.

West Briton Reporter and Assistant News Editor Richard Whitehouse. Ref:TRJJ20140711B-003_C

Richard Whitehouse

When people approach me to talk to me they naturally gravitate towards the ear without the hearing aid thinking that that is my “good” side.

But, of course, they couldn’t be more wrong! Unwittingly they find themselves trying to converse with me through an ear which is entirely redundant.

I try and help them out by turning my right ear towards them but for some reason I find myself holding back from actually explaining to them that in fact they would be better talking to my other side.

Why don’t I end the constant need to turn my head at some bizarre angle just so that I can ensure that I can hear what they are saying whilst also trying to remain looking at them and not behind myself – try it for yourself, not easy and not a good look!

Being entirely deaf on one side has other drawbacks – with it being my left ear if I am driving with a passenger in the front it is almost a waste of time even trying to have a conversation.

And then there is the problem with speaking on a telephone and then having someone in the room trying to ask you to pass on a message – a task which is impossible for someone like me!

Of course close friends and relatives are used to my needs by now – several know that they are better off walking on my right hand side if they want to talk to me when out and about.

So how can I try and guide people to my good side and show them that my left ear is “out of order” without having to explain every time?

Perhaps I should just remove it? But I imagine that would be painful and quite messy. And I would be left with another problem in how to wear my glasses…

Or maybe I could start wearing an earpatch – if such a thing exists. If not then watch out for me on Dragon’s Den.

In the meantime I will continue to guide people towards my right side while making more of an effort to explain to them why I am doing so.

Richard Whitehouse, 36, is a journalist for local weekly newspapers and their websites in Cornwall. He has been deaf in one ear for most of his life and his hearing in his other ear is decreasing. He can be followed on Twitter @rwhitehouse13

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