I don’t remember the exact moment that started a chain of events that ended months later with getting my first hearing aid – a bulky, tablet-sized contraption with an earpiece that somewhat fit. But I do remember many moments that lead up to it- many warning signs I choose to ignore.
Growing up my brother, sister, and I were always with my grandma. My mother was single and hard working and trying to support three needed children, so my grandma was our baby-sitter. My grandmother is a wonderful woman and an even better grand, but she is also deaf. Some might think that would be hard for children so small but honestly I couldn’t have grown up in a more loving environment.
Sure there were some differences, we learned to sign to communicate with her and to look around the captions on the bottom of the T.V. But in our family all of those things were just normal. There is a saying about how people are not born good or evil but made and molded into that… I believe that because as children there was nothing weird about telling my grandma I wanted a cookie using my hands instead of my mouth.
A little bit older and I came to find that having family that couldn’t hear was not the norm.. Other kids didn’t understand why she couldn’t hear me speak to her, and as a child I didn’t understand why it was different.
Older still, and my mother had hearing problems as well. Only in one ear and she had to have surgery for it. It was about this time they started testing hearing in school and mine always seemed to come back as failing.
In high school is when I began to notice a difference for me.. my dad or sister would come in the living room and tell me the T.V. was too loud and I would just look at them. Too loud?? I could barely hear it. Teachers or friends would say something and I would either ask them to repeat it or turn and ask someone what was said. If the T.V. was on, or music was blaring, or even if I was in a crowd I couldn’t keep up with conversations because it was too much background noise. I would strain to hear what people were saying, trying to look at their mouths and read lips, and by the end of the day I would get headaches. I became a book junkie and loved to get lost in a book where I didn’t have to strain to hear people and I didn’t have to pretend I could hear them. It was then I started to have an uneasy feeling in my gut, but I ignored it.
When I met my husband we moved to Colorado pretty quickly and got a roommate. Most of the things above were still present in my life (and they will probably never leave).He is my oldest friend and probably most honest and living with them bring several situations to mind.
On one occasion I was watching T.V. and Josh asked me something while he was in the kitchen “What?” I asked, and again he spoke but I couldn’t decipher the words. It was having headphones on with the music playing and someone talking to you- you hear the sound waves and see their mouth move but the words are lost with the music. “What are you saying?” I asked again. I could practically feel him getting annoyed with me as he walked the 10 feet closer to me, ” What are you watching?” I felt about 2 inches tall as I muttered my response. The apartment we were living in at the time wasn’t big and there weer no walls between him and me, in fact I could see him talking but the words didn’t make sense in my head.
Another incident, our roommate came out of his room, which was down the hall, to ask me to turn down the T.V. I looked at him thinking “jeez controlling much” and pressed the buttons on the remote. He stood there afterwards and asked me to turn it down more I told him no and he said the entire complex could hear the people on the T.V. talking. I rolled my eyes at his overreaction and continued to watch the show telling him he was being stupid. Of course this started an argument ending with him telling me to god get my ears checked. There it was just hanging in the air and out in the open. My gut twisted tighter. It was in that apartment at 19 years old that I realized I might have a hearing problem.
Going into that office to have an actual hearing test was one of the scariest things I think I have ever done. I didn’t want them to tell me I was going deaf but at the same time I just wanted everything to stop and be fixed. The doctor explained a little about the process and about hearing aids if they were needed and asked me a ton of questions about my life. He ran a few tests from my ears and told me I had severe to moderate hearing loss in one ear and just severe loss in the other. My stomach dropped as the doctor placed a set of hearing aids on my ears.
First thing I remember is being able to hear myself breathing and thinking oh my gawd do other people hear me breathing like this? The doctor mentioned it might take a little while for my ears to adjust to hearing the normal everyday things because I didn’t usually hear them. When I explained about the breathing and that it would be helpful because Josh was always trying to talk to me in another room when I obviously couldn’t hear him. The doctor jumped up and told me to close my eyes and I did, and then he told Josh to have a conversation with me and he did. I felt awkward just randomly talking about things with Josh with my eyes closed but then the doctor told me to open my eyes and look around, Josh wasn’t in the room. He was standing in the hallway but I could still hear him. I put my head in my hands and I cried. I couldn’t believe it.
It’s been almost two years since then and I have difficultly wearing hearing aids because they do give you headaches after while. The hearing never gets better, although technology improvements make some situations easier than before…
Any other stories or comments?