Hearing aids can be scary to someone who doesn’t know how they work. So with Halloween just around the corner, we think it’s the perfect opportunity to show kids and their friends that hearing aids are cool!
For the first 12 years of my life, I slept peacefully through the majority of thunderstorms. If I ever awoke, it was during a strike so violent everybody in the house was awake, and huddled in my mother’s bed.
With half an eardrum in one ear and no eardrum in the other, the idea of a thunderstorm being frightening seemed silly. Why would pretty flashing lights with next to no sound be scary? As long as there was no thunder, storms seemed like a ridiculous thing to fear.
Summer 2005, however, would change this idea for the rest of my life.
Almost one year after my left eardrum was repaired and half my hearing was restored, the horror of strange sounds hit me.
When I started losing my hearing at the age of thirty, I was really embarrassed about it and I didn’t want people to know I was going deaf. It felt like a failing and I took the news that I needed a hearing aid pretty hard.
I did not want to accept the diagnosis of otosclerosis. I’d read that it was hereditary and painless and I was having a lot of pain and didn’t know anyone in my family who’d had this condition (although my Grandmother who died when I was five did have deafness of some sort but my Dad and Aunt don’t know the cause). Most of all, I just didn’t want to accept that I was going deaf.
The 8th to 12th September is Lipreading Awareness Week in the UK and so my post is in honour of the Lipreading tutors around the world. Thank you for all you do!
When I got my first analogue aid, I shoved it in a drawer because it amplified everything and the sounds of cutlery or a running tap scared the living daylights out of me. Nobody checked up on me and it was left up to me to ask to be referred to a different hospital where I’d discovered they were (at that time) trialling the use of digital hearing aids.
At the second hospital, I was given an ‘in the ear’ aid and told to ‘build up use gradually from an hour a day to all day’. The hearing aid was set far too loud and the audiologist refused to turn it down to make it bearable (let alone comfortable) and so, it too got shoved in a drawer never to see the light of day again.
I then enrolled on a lipreading class.
“I don’t hear very well.” This is what I’d been saying since I discovered, age 13, that I didn’t hear very well. “I don’t hear very well.” My hearing was checked, I was given the verdict “yeah, so you have some hearing loss, we’re going to give you hearing aids”, and sent to an audiologist to be fitted. They took some measurements, filled my ears with pink stuff, and next time I went there I left with a rather big pair of skin-coloured inside-the-ear aids.
They felt uncomfortable, I could hear background noise, the world was too loud, and girls at school made fun of me. I wore them two days, maybe three, then put them back in their box, never to be taken out again. I decided that it wasn’t that bad after all to “not hear very well”, and that I would cope.
And I did, for the next 25 years.
In 2012, after a couple of years of “getting there”, I finally decided to get fitted again. My brother had got hearing aids a few years before and what he told me of the process and the changes in his life really encouraged me. (We have similar hearing loss, hereditary.) I shared some of my thoughts on my blog right after getting my hearing aids (“A Week With My Superpower”) and a month or so later (“More About Hearing Aids…”).
Nearly two years later, my hearing aids are part of my life, and I wonder why I waited so long. I still end up saying “I don’t hear very well” every now and again, but now I can add “I’m not wearing my hearing aids just now,” or “Even with hearing aids, I don’t hear as well as you.” The impact is different!