Hearing loss is like an onion with levels and layers and sometimes tears. Every day it rears its head out, often in different ways. You never know what you’ll be treated to – a co-worker who gets angry for having to repeat themselves, a sales clerk whose lips point to her computer, a conversation with friends that spins out of control into incomprehension, an argument with a loved one them not speaking directly to you.
It doesn’t matter when hearing loss happens, experiencing one of its good, bad, or ugly truths for the first time can be unnerving and surprising.
Becoming comfortable with hearing loss can take time, and in truth, I don’t think I am quite there yet. Some point all of these ‘truths’ have hit me in the face, hard and ugly. Some even of them keep on coming. These may not seem startling to you, but if you are hard of hearing or deaf, you may have had your own moments disbelief and shock.
A note to hearing people: many of us with communication challenges have a tendency to be somewhat dramatic. That’s life, and we need to vent once in a while.
Here are a few eye-openers for me…
Your hearing loss will never go away. You will always have it. Always. And if you don’t like it, that’s just too bad.
Learning to live well with hearing loss will take a long time. Again, not quite there. There will be days that are great and then Wham! A bad hearing day knocks you on your ass… Then you recover and we learn how to kick down those communication barriers, and then Wham! Its a continuous loop at the moment.
Every time you get a new hearing aid, it’s like the first time. You know, the extremely loud and annoying stuff. You can hear clothes rustle, keys clinging together, typing on the keyboard, and Chewing!
And then, after a few weeks of breaking in the hearing aids (when sometimes you want to break them into pieces) you realize the sounds are no longer as loud or grating. That’s when I tend to panic, convinced that I’ve become deafer, thanks to those damn-loud hearing aids! This happens, they say, because our brain has become used to the signals it receives but….you know….part of me is not 100% convinced.
Hearing aids do not last forever. Just when you become used to or attached they go ka-put. Not even after a long time, 5-7 years so. Once should be enough.
Hearing aids are outrageously expensive. $1000 for two and that’s on the cheap side AND they don’t last forever. It’s insane. Just saying.
Your loved ones forget or ignore the new rules of communication. All. The. Time. Even after your spouse-mom-dad-brother-child-co-worker-boss-from-hell had been sat down and explained how to communicate with a person with hearing loss, they still do not remember to express themselves in an inclusive way.
It’s worse when I meet friends and family I haven’t seen in a while. Most of them fail to understand or recognize my hearing problem; they speak to me as they do to everyone else, which is not only stressful but frustrating.
Understanding thick accents- forget about it. Trying to hear and understand people where you’re from is hard enough. Throw a think out of state/ country accent on top of that and I might as well ask you to write it down.
Hearing loss can turn you into a self-pitying whiner who looks under rocks for evidence of discrimination and bad behavior. Hearing aids help with the volume, but when people speak, sometimes it sounds like a foreign language. Self-esteems take the hit, and the burden of not being able to communicate well seems to tower over you.
These are just things that I have noticed on my road… However, whatever caused my moment of self-pity eventually turns to acceptance, and further down the road I might just realize I am not my hearing loss.
Anyone else have some truths or experiences to share?