#SOL18 It's a Noisy World After All

The click of the light switch.
The tap tap tapping of my fingers on the keyboard.
The tick, tick, tick of the car indicator. 
The rip of a paper towel. 

These are sounds I've just begun to hear again since donning hearing aids as of last week. Under 40 years old, I have made the decision to wear hearing aids as I have a fairly significant loss in my left ear and some hearing loss also in my right ear. Coming to the decision to get hearing aids wasn't easy.

I first realized I had a hearing loss over 6 years ago. I would be on the phone and could barely understand at all when the receiver was held to my left ear. I started switching to the right but was troubled by this. My father's family all had hearing loss and most of his siblings started wearing hearing aids in midlife too. While I was pregnant with my daughter Megan, I went to an ear, nose and throat doctor and had my hearing evaluated. The doctor was stunned that I had as much loss as I did, especially on the left. He sent me for an MRI to make sure there wasn't a tumor wasn't causing this sudden loss. This was all done a few days before Hurricane Sandy and I remember the power being out and no one answering phones as I waited for the news about my possible tumor.

Thankfully, no tumor. But still, the hearing loss. I waited until after Megan was born and then saw an audiologist. At this time in my life, my son was two years old and I had a newborn. The hearing aids were not an easy addition into my life. They kept slipping out of place- it turns out I (of course) have atypical eardrums and need a custom model for it to fit my ear. My newborn would be screaming up by my ear. Nothing seemed clearer but everything felt so loud. Hearing aids are very expensive, but New York State gives you 45 days to get your money back. I took that option, returning my hearing aids and figuring I could do without them. 

For over 5 years, I did. If a person was talking near me and I could see their mouth, I was mostly fine. Background noise complicates things. I watched television with close captioned on. I told people about my hearing loss so they would understand if I said the wrong thing or misheard. Still, it became more and more embarrassing in new social situations, or on the soccer field, or at a party when I just couldn't hear what people were saying. In the classroom, I had to work very hard to hear and understand and would ask children to repeat themselves if I misunderstood. 

A friend who is a speech therapist working mostly with hearing impaired children encouraged me to see about my hearing. She said undiagnosed hearing loss can lead to dementia. There are many poor health outcomes that follow a hearing loss being untreated. I felt ready to try again.

And so, here I am, with new custom-fit hearing aids. They can stream podcasts, music, Voxer, and phone conversations which is so awesome. They fit in my ear so much better. My expectations are more realistic. I know that clarity will still be an issue but I'm hoping in time for better overall hearing. Last time around, the rip of a paper towel felt deafening and annoyed me. This time around, I'm amazed at all the sounds in the world that I haven't been hearing. 

It will take time to adjust and to make the hearing aids a natural part of my life. I think this was the right step and I feel more confident that this time around, my hearing will improve, and be a positive addition to my life. 

Comments

  1. I am sure life will be easier with better hearing ... as a musician in a rock and roll band, I worry about my own hearing lost down the line. Thanks for sharing your story. I suspect it is a mix of feelings for you.
    Kevin

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  2. Good for you - I love your positive attitude and outlooks --as always! I also love that they stream many of the things my wireless earbuds stream. Technology does improve things. I am at the same point with reading glasses - I think you convinced me to embrace and see them as a "positive addition to my life."

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  3. Yay- I am sure the adjustment will take a bit of work. I was horrified when I needed progressive lens glasses 6 years ago after a lifetime until then of "perfect vision". You are so good about noticing the positives,

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  4. I have been living with some mild hearing loss for a few years. Doctors say too early for hearing aids but I still wonder how I will take to them - or if I will take to them - when the time comes. Your courage eases my mind. Thank you for sharing.

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  5. As is typical for you, you identified the problem, researched the options and dedicated yourself to finding a solution. So many people avoid getting hearing aids, but I agree that loss of hearing causes alienation. People just give up on hearing and in response friends/loved ones give up on trying. I am going to have my husband read your post today as his hearing has been steadily getting worse and my patience is running thin.
    Sorry to hear (no pun intended) you've been having this problem, but glad to hear you're well on your way to "recovery" of your hearing, dear friend.

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  6. Yay for you Kathleen! Sometimes it's so hard to take care of ourselves! You are a brave example for all of us! I am sending this slice to my sister-in-law, just 40, who also has significant hearing loss in one ear. She, like you, went had an MRI and various other tests to rule out any tumors. It was a scary time last spring! I hope you and your hearing aids develop a strong relationship that will bring clarity and discovery! Thanks for sharing this slice, Kathleen!

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  7. Great grabber, listing sounds that so many of us take for granted. I enjoyed reading your in-progress journey and wish you well on its next steps.

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