Mrs Wang is from Zunyi, Guizhou, China, and is a Kite 2 Smart Personal Sound Amplifier user. She shared her story with us, and we felt the profound and far-reaching impact an intimate relationship could have on a person’s quality of life in their later years.
Mrs Wang wrote this story in Chinese. It was translated into English by Incus.
A Lifelong Job
In 1960, our family of three moved from Huangshi, Hubei to Zunyi, Guizhou to join our grandparents who had a better financial situation.
In 1969, after “hanging around” at home for a few years, I finally got the opportunity to enter a state-owned hardware and electric power factory thanks to my mother’s connections. I was a quality inspection worker on the assembly line.
I would clock in at 8 a.m. and finish work at 8 p.m. For decades, I contributed my body and mind to this role, and in return, the factory gave me money to support my family.
I did this for what felt like a lifetime.
Friends For Life
Life in the factory was very monotonous. As if on an assembly line, I would go between workstations, the canteen and the on-site dormitory. Fortunately, I got to make friends with a group of fantastic women in the factory. We were like sisters.
We would talk about fashion, music, news and gossip, practice Tai Chi and take daily walks. Some called us the “six golden flowers.” We became friends for life.
I Lost My Health and Happiness
Time flew, and I retired in 2005.
Gradually, I found that my hearing was getting worse and worse. I also became estranged from my group of friends. They jokingly called me “The Queen of Deafness”.
On the surface, I laughed it off, but I began to feel inferior. So I made up excuses to avoid participating in Tai Chi. I withdrew and seldom attended group gatherings.
After staying home for a long time, I began to have conflicts with my husband and daughter-in-law. The underlying reason was that my hearing ability had declined significantly. I couldn't hear clearly when my family members spoke at a regular volume. And when they spoke loudly, I felt that they were angry with me, which upset me even more. After more than a year of this, my relationship with the family was in dire straits.
One problem led to another.
My relationship with friends and family was not good, and I developed physical health issues.
Last year, I kept suffering from headaches and dizziness, so I went to a hospital for a physical examination. The doctor diagnosed me with high blood pressure, high blood sugar, carotid artery blockage, and chest blockage. I suspect these problems were due to a lack of proper exercise and long-lasting depression.
Who Wants To Be Like the Queen of Deafness?
When I talk about my story, I feel really sad!
We were good friends for decades, but now we could not look each other in the eyes.
After being married for decades, my husband and I drifted apart because of hearing loss.
To me, a life without the nourishment these intimate relationships provided seemed as bleak as dried flowers.
Regain Hearing, Regain Life
This year, my daughter invited me to come to Shenzhen during the summer holiday to accompany my grandson and relax. Because of my poor hearing, I wanted to refuse my daughter’s kind invitation, but she said that she had prepared a personal sound amplifier for me.
It was lunchtime when the high-speed train arrived in Shenzhen. My daughter immediately took me to a Cantonese-style tea house to eat. She helped me set up the hearing aid earphones at the restaurant table.
I had never even heard of smart personal sound amplifiers before.
When I got them, I saw they were hugely different in appearance and feel compared with the unattractive and hard-to-use hearing aids I had previously bought online for a few hundred Chinese yuan.
At my age, I am not very good at operating electronic products. My daughter read the user manual and then used her mobile phone to measure my hearing status: 59 decibels in the left ear and 64 decibels in the right ear. The results showed I might have moderate to severe hearing loss.
Afterwards, the hearing profile was sent to the hearing device. My daughter said that as long as I wear the device correctly and power it on before use, I would be able to hear more clearly. My daughter deliberately lowered her voice talking to me while having tea, and I was able to hear clearly. I was surprised and moved.
I used the smart personal sound amplifier during my half-month stay in Shenzhen. My daughter and I got along well, and I connected with my grandson, who did not want me to go back to Zunyi.
With the help and guidance of my daughter, I am determined to return to my friend group. With the help of the smart personal sound amplifier, I will re-establish relationships with my husband and daughter-in-law and rebuild the intimacy we lost.