By: Sara Lundquist
As I look at the calendar I start to get tense and look back at this past year and I marvel of all the changes that have been made. This upcoming weekend is the Tae Kwon Do tournament when I noticed the crowd was more hushed, I noticed I couldn’t hear a TV, or my kid’s voices. I am not sure at this moment my hearing dropped or it was slowly dropping and it kind of hit me on this weekend. Either way it has been a learning curve with hearing aids, and accepting this new normal.
I look at this past year and I thought I would make a list of 10 things I have noticed and learned. I was able to get a hold of my audiogram from 1996 when I was 19 years old. I was in college and attending the University of Wisconsin and studying Communicative Disorders. I had a conductive loss at a 30-35db loss. In all reality and what I know now I would have been wearing hearing aids back then. I am now 37 and I have a mixed loss that ranges from a 60-90db loss. That is a big difference. Will it change from this point, I don’t know but if it does I know there will be frustrations but I feel I will be better equipped to handle it.
- Always carry hearing aid batteries with you. I learned the hard way this last week. I decided to leave my bag out in the car after lunch and I was subbing in science. Well both hearing aid batteries went dead. I had about 3 hours of the day left to go with no break to run to the car. Thank God we were watching a movie very little talking and listening had to take place. It made me realize I need to learn to speech read more then ever which will be my number 2.
- I hear with my eyes as much as my ears. I need a big boost in speech reading. I can do a word here or there but I need a lot more practice. I lack in this area greatly. Although I have done a few experiments on my own while listening to someone I really do concentrate on their face. I will close my eyes at times and my comprehension really goes down. I need that visual; I need to see it as much as hear it.
- Hearing aids are not miracle aids. Yes I really rely highly on my hearing aids. I recently told a friend who is Deaf, I can’t sign proficiently, I can’t read lips for a full conversation. I rely on the hearing I have. I have become great friends with the phonak and starkey hearing aids I own. I don’t have perfect hearing with my hearing aids but they make up for a lot of lost ground.
- Ear molds are better then domes. This is an individual thing but wow a big difference for me. I was given domes then got moved to closed power domes in my hearing aids. They annoyed me and I could hear better with my finger in my ear with them. When I bought this up I was told it just took time to get used to. I then went to another audiologist and they told me my hearing loss was to great for the domes and that is why I was having the problem. I was told I needed the ear molds and I sure can tell a difference. What I learned from this, you know what you need. If it doesn’t work for you and you have a finger in your ear, it isn’t working. I will never use domes again. You can change doctors nothing is set in stone.
- You are not alone. Family and friends supported me and listened to me but I needed to find someone who understood me. I have found friends and the Say What Club. They understand hearing loss. They can laugh with you and help through the tough times. I urge anyone who is going through a trial to seek out a group that understands. As a fellow SWC friend says you need your tribe. You need the people who walk in the same shoes as you do. Seek them out!
- Car radios suck. Ok so I am blunt and to the point. Maybe this again is just me. I try explaining to my husband I can hear the music and the beat but I very seldom can make out the words. I can hear parts of words but it kind of sounds like a broken foreign language. I will keep the radio on I like music but the words nah can’t do it. But I have never been able to really listen to the music and get all the words so maybe this isn’t such a new thing.
- I have become to love the assistive listening devices I have. I was very stubborn at first I didn’t want to try these. I felt that I was not profoundly deaf or hard of hearing so I didn’t need these. I was wrong. I use the streamer on my TV a lot. It blocks out everything but the show or movie we are watching. It makes a big difference. I still use the captions but I seem to be more engaged in a movie if I use it. Otherwise I seem to lose focus and I am off doing something else. When we are watching a family movie I need to be involved and enjoy the time.
- Keep my family in the loop. My children know when I can hear them and when I can’t. If I say I can’t hear you they are really good at waiting till we are somewhere else and then ask me. My kids understand my hearing aids. My husband will hook up and ask if I want the streamer on the TV or for the music we are listening to. They support me and that makes such a big difference.
- Sign language- I know some but I need to learn more. When we are in a situation and I can’t hear my kids I would love to be able to use more sign. Today in church I used sign to my son and we understood each other. I hope another class will be offered soon in my area.
- Pimping and blinging my hearing aids have become an obsession. Heck if I can go and see all these fun glasses at the eye doctor why do hearing aids have to be beige or dark brown in my case. I can decorate them and maybe no one will see them but I know they are there and sassy.
So here is my list of 10 things I have learned this past year. I wonder what my list will look like in another year.