If you know anyone with hearing loss, please read this blog!
We take our senses for granted. It’s only when you lose a particular one that you realize its importance. My personal story is about the loss of my hearing. Although one assumes there might be hearing loss much later in life, my hearing began to decline when I was fifty. However, I blamed tinnitus, a neck injury and vertigo. My physio agreed with me.
Trying to concentrate at work and focus on what was being said inevitably gave me a severe headache. By the end of the day I was nauseous with the pain and the vertigo didn’t help. Turning the sound up on my computer didn’t improve matters, plus I assumed my headset was defective. A replacement was no better. Ironically, part of my work was subtitling programmes for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Initially, my hearing loss was a gradual decline, but very soon that became rapid. Reluctantly I went for a hearing test believing I was too young. I was shocked to find out that I was profoundly deaf in my right ear, and over the next few years the hearing in the left ear reduced more and more.This is my story.
It’s difficult not to be negative when talking about this. I rely on a lot of positive mental imagery to get me through the day, and also writing blogs. The reality is – Life is now Challenging.
I do tell people that I have difficulty hearing. but they don’t really understand. They might shout which makes it worse. I do ask them to face me and repeat something and they try, but I don’t always catch their second attempt either. Can I ask them to repeat something a third time? Not always, depending on their body language, or the sudden appointment which they have to rush off for. I’ve lost the ability to be sociable. I’ve lost myself.
Normal interactions like visits to the doctor are tiring. He’s excellent in that he removes his Covid mask as he knows I rely on lip-reading and he faces me, but I still miss a lot. There’s only so many times you can ask someone to repeat what they said. Plus, I often miss important information.
Airports are a nightmare because of all the background noise and there is no way I can hear what the officials are saying. I rely on my husband to tell me, even if it takes four or five attempts.
Trying to engage verbally with librarians, retail staff – simple daily interactions where I have to repeat myself are frustrating and stressful. People get annoyed and after a while they stop talking to me. I can understand their frustration, but please bear with me, or should I say – EAR ME!
My hearing aid is far from perfect, although it’s been adjusted numerous times. Ironically, people don’t always hear what I am saying. For a long time, I thought they were losing their hearing, until someone told me I was speaking too softly. A Comedy of Errors – thank you Willie Shakespeare, but I’m reconstructing your title to My Comedy of Ears.
You see my speech is loud in my head, but the spoken world outside sounds muffled.That’s crazy. They can’t hear me! I can’t hear them, Double whammy! So, I repeat myself – repeatedly. But I can see they get fed up repeating themselves and they give up.
Sing along with me to the tune of Engelbert Humperdinck’s – Please Release Me. ‘Please repeat to me and let me hear.’
Not needing TV subtitles would be a bonus. Now they are distressing. Quite often they move too fast, especially if they’re being done live online, or they’re not in sync with the images. I stopped watching TV because it just gave me a headache – too much effort.
Welcome to my muddled world. Walk in my shoes. Hear what I hear, or don’t hear. Beep beep there’s my hearing aid battery again, those small fiddly things that are supposed to connect me to the hearing world. Yes, before you say anything, I do hear the BEEP BEEP, although it may take a while to register, so beep off. Ha Ha! Got you.
One possible solution is a very small, upgraded hearing aid. However, my trial wasn’t effective and the audiologist in the store advised me not to purchase it. These hearing aids are really effective for many people, so it’s a case of trial and error. Work with your audiologist to find the best possible scenario.
The next possible solution is a Cochlear Ear Implant. I’ve gone through the first testing process and been told I’m a good candidate. It sounds stupid, but I assumed it was just that – a simple implant – and hey presto, my world would stop tilting. I could be myself again. I could smile properly. But it’s not just an implant. It’s surgery. Risk of infection. Risk of losing what little hearing I have left. That scares me.
With a cochlear implant I will still have to wear an external hearing aid, and a processor, and change batteries. It’s bad enough now with this hearing aid which my glasses have to sit on, and the strings of the Covid mask are a nuisance. My hearing aid falls out or doesn’t sit properly. Wearing a ski mask is quite good as it keeps everything in place. I would recommend not wearing a black one when entering your local bank.
I will continue to research Cochlear Implants and reach out to people who’ve had the surgery. The good thing is that the hospital does a series of tests including psychological, so it’s not a case of jumping in headfirst, or should I say ears first.
I look out the window. The clouds are like huge marshmallows. Although I know they are vapour, I often imagine myself relaxing on them, floating gently in the sky.
If I don’t focus on my hearing loss – it’s not happening. The reality is – it distresses me and makes me feel old.
Silence surrounds me as once again as I focus on the clouds. My thoughts are overwhelmingly sad and I don’t want to feel sad.
Daily walks by the river are soothing and watching the birds fly in formation frees my mind.
The overhanging branches of the trees shelter me, and I feel their strength.
The words that escape – I often wonder where they go? Is there a world of words that don’t fit in like I don’t? Silent words in a silent world. I don’t hear them, and if I don’t hear them, they have no meaning. They don’t belong to me. Missing words means I don’t hear a full sentence. It can be funny if I mis-hear. I laugh about it, but inside I’m crying. I feel sad and alone. So very alone and unsociable. I find it difficult to smile properly. I also wonder if I’m smiling in the right place. I don’t want to offend anyone.
The world I live in now has changed my life. I can’t enjoy the wonderful discussions I had with my children, my family, and my friends. Before I lost my hearing, I loved striking up conversations with people at bus stops or in cafe’s. It was fun. Now I avoid talking unless I have to and I’m aware that people avoid talking to me. I’ve become unsociable. I lose myself in a book and avoid the issue.
WHAT’S SHE SAYING?
Many years ago, I was sitting with my mom and aunt. My aunt continually turned to me and asked what mom was saying. My reply was – ‘I don’t know.’ Then mom would ask the same question. ‘What’s she saying?’ It made us laugh.
Dear family, I want you all to know that I love you and I hope you hear those three words loud and clear. I may not understand everything you say, but the echo in my heart is loud and clear.
We may no longer engage in deep conversations about whether or not Trump should run for USA presidency again, or even SA presidency, (stranger things have happened) – but hey ho, we may not miss that. Hear! Hear!
By the way, I’m no good at playing Charades.
Read my blog – My Daily Habits!
I have written two novels available on Amazon