I have a bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. We hear those words often but they mean different things to each individual. I am only aided on my right ear because my left ear is totally unfriendly to any speech discrimination. Or should I say, speech discrimination is unfriendly to my ear?
I once tried an aid on my left ear, many moons ago, with no affects. I wear my aid on my “good” ear from the minute I wake up in the morning until I go to bed. The only time I usually remove it during the day, is when I get jock itch in my ear. Since last Thursday, I’ve developed extreme pain in my ear and on the crest of the helix. You know, that part of the ear that has nada to do with hearing. It’s where u would stick the earmold under that little sucker.
Today is the first day I could not wear my hearing aid due to extreme pain and let me tell you, it was a real eye opener for me and the people around me. I have never gone this many waking hours out of the house without my aid. First off, I found the people I work with not able to deal with me. WOW! Now for the surprise, these are my teammates and we work with the hearing impaired and deaf population and their families.
I guess it’s true when we say, you don’t know what it feels like till you’ve been in my shoes. Hearing people really do not understand deafness, let alone a hearing loss. Maybe it’s their fear of the unthinkable. It immobilizes people when we discuss our unability to hear. The very idea of not being able to hear a discussion, a disagreement or the hearing persons fear to communicate with us because WE cannot hear them. So afraid to initiate a strategy to communicate with us for fear of catching what we have.
Then, I encountered the people in the stores, on the streets and the dangers of walking in between cars to cross streets. Naturally, I can’t use my phone, which means, I can’t communicate and others can’t communicate with me, which means I’m going to be one pissed woman by the end of this week. I’m very social and love to communicate. The I’m in your face type of person I guess.
Lastly, there’s my family. Everyones has their mouths wide open to over emphasize what they want to say to me. It’s so weird and it’s also pretty scary to actually not hear the voices of the people I love. I guess I’ve taken the assistance I get from my aid for granted. And friends, co-workers and family around me, have taken my hearing loss and wearing an aid for granted. I guess now they realize I am not hearing anything and that I am truly hearing impaired though one cannot officially call me deaf.
Don’t you just love when a hearing person says, wow, you have such great speech for a person with hearing loss? It blows my mind.
Oh by the way, my Doctor really impressed me today. The man actually took out paper and wrote the questions he had for me and had me answer them (verbally of course). He did not want me to put my hearing aid on because of the pain. Oh and by the way, this was my Internist not my ENT.
Here’s one of the reasons I dislike ENT Doctors. Many years ago, during a phase where I refused to be aided, I went to an ENT Doctor because I was having terrible sinus problems. As soon as I tell him I have a hearing loss he calls in his audiologist to do a hearing test. I showed him my audiogram which was taken several months ago by my audiologist. But no, he wants one from his office. I refused.
This ENT Doctor proceeds to look in my ears after I tell him about my hearing loss, show him my audiogram and explain that I have no speech discrim in my left ear. The man looks into my ears, looks very seriously at me and says, I don’t see why u can’t hear out of that left ear, it looks perfectly fine. With that remark said, I stood up, said thank you for your time and left (as fast as I could). I decided from that moment on, that people, even many well meaning and not so well meaning professionals in the field, do not understand us. It’s as if they have deafaphobia, the unimaginable! the unthinkable!
So what is my point? I raise my glass to all of us for holding our heads up high, for not allowing this to drag us to the grave and for continuing to educate those who hear.