I’m in a reflective mood this evening. In a few weeks I have an appointment to begin the process of getting a new hearing aid. This appointment is bringing back a lot of memories of my journey with hearing loss.
I think back to the countless appointments that I went to each year that ranged from having a hearing test done, to getting surgery after surgery to try and correct my hearing.
A mild to moderate hearing loss doesn’t seem like much, but it affects not only the person with the loss, but everyone they interact with. The T.V. was always too quiet for me to hear, as was the radio in the car. I think my two famous phrases from that era of my life were: “Can you turn it up?” And “What??” This hearing loss was frustrating for me and for my family and friends. Communication was especially difficult. People would get tired of repeating things four times and would just say never mind, and I wouldn’t get to know what they had said. I always walk on the left side of people because my right ear has better hearing than my left. I had to wear earplugs whenever I went swimming or took a shower, so I could hear even less than normal.
After my last ear surgery that was done to try and correct my hearing, the doctor suggested that it was probably time that I try a hearing aid. By this time, they had basically fixed the hearing in my right ear, but there was still a mild to moderate hearing loss in my left ear that never went away.
I was twelve years old when I got my hearing aid. This happened to be the summer before I was in grade eight. I was an insecure middle school girl, and this was a difficult transition for me. I thought that people would make fun of me for wearing a hearing aid. I thought that no boy would ever like me. I was completely embarrassed with the thought of having a hearing aid and braces at the same time. I was always sure to have my hair covering my hearing aid, and the color that I chose for my hearing aid was skin toned so to draw the least amount of attention to me. Those were some interesting years of my life.
As soon as I put my hearing aid in for the first time, it was life changing! I could hear things that I couldn’t hear before. I didn’t need the T.V. or radio up so loud, and I even asked my mom a few times why she was yelling at me.
That moment happened eight years ago. My hearing aid has been life changing. But not always in a positive way. I now had to make sure that I didn’t have it in when I went swimming or took a shower (Fun fact: it has been in a lake and in the shower a few times, yet still works). Certain physical activities are better played without a hearing aid in. I won’t even mention the times that I thought I lost the thing!
No one talks about how your hearing aid always loses its battery at the most inconvenient times when you don’t have another replacement battery. No one talks about how it can irritate the inside and outside of your ear, or how your hair gets tangled in it. No one talks about how you can’t enjoy music without getting feedback from the darn thing. And no one talks about how it’s impossible to wear both your hearing aid and headphones at the same time. It’s either only listening through one headphone, or having to turn up the volume on anything you’re listening to. People don’t tell you that listening to people talking in a microphone is annoying, but you can’t hear them otherwise. No one talks about children or adolescents or young adults who wear hearing aids, the focus is always on the elderly when it comes to hearing loss.
There are many days that I want to chuck my hearing aid at the bottom of a river and hope to never see it again, while magically regaining my hearing. There are days when I wish I could have just one more surgery that would make it so I don’t have to wear a hearing aid for the rest of my life.
I am so grateful for the technology that allows me to have close to normal hearing. This hearing aid is a part of my being. It goes everywhere with me. I would be lost without it. I just like to dream of a day when I never have to rely on it ever again. I think that would be the best day of my life.
C’est la vie,