Coffee Talk

My Hearing Loss Journey

I first was diagnosed with hearing loss in Grade 3, when I was eight years old. I am not sure what it was that gave it away–perhaps my constant complaint that everything sounded as if it was filtered through cotton balls, or perhaps it was the fact that I wouldn’t respond to sound in the classroom.

In October, soon after the start of the new school year, I had sat down in the chair of my audiologist’s office, and suddenly I was placed into two hearing aids.  Dazed, and confused as I couldn’t understand and comprehend fully what was going on, I was suddenly thrust into a world I knew little about. All my eight-year old mind could understand of that moment was that my school years were about to get worse–a lot worse.  Up until that point, I had been bullied for not knowing English, coming from an immigrant family.  Now, as I instinctively knew, I would be bullied for having “things” on my ears.  I couldn’t stop crying on the way out of the office, and through the hospital, kicking and loudly begging my mom to take me back and make it stop.

I had been diagnosed with bilateral sensioneural hearing loss, meaning both of my ears have been affected, due to heavy medication as a child.  I have severe-profound hearing loss in my left ear, with moderate-severe hearing loss in my right ear. This makes it extremely difficult to hear sounds like sh, ch, th, c, and s, along with birds, whistles, and kettles.  Ironically, I grew up speaking a language–Polish–that is rich in these types of sounds.

Indeed, school got worse–at least periodically–and I had to deal with an extra microphone system that sourced the teacher’s voice directly into my ears.  I didn’t like it.  But I dealt with it, and strived my hardest to make sure that being hard of hearing didn’t define me or my abilities. By sixth grade, I weaned myself off the microphone, and continued to perform well in school.  I never thought about my hearing loss as anything that made me different or made it harder to perform. For the most part, I breezed by in school, had some friends, and spent my summers travelling or doing additional, educational programs.

An incident in high school gave me something to think about.  I had visited a different audiologist than the one I normally go to.  She had looked at my results from the hearing test, and at me. Then she said “You should be going to deaf school with your hearing loss.” Suddenly, I saw red. I partially heard her finish the sentence with something along the lines of “but you’re doing so well in hearing school,” but the sentence about deaf school kept playing in my head. Needless to say, I walked out of the audiologist’s office that day, never to return as I’m not one willing to put up with people who only want to tear me down (more on that in another post).  I returned to my regular audiologist, and she has been the most kind person ever, who has supported me and been interested in my life.  She has never treated me in a different way beyond a normal person, and let me choose to carve the path I wanted.

I’ve learnt that my hearing is unique, and I love it because it gives me the best of both worlds: I can take out my hearing aids and suddenly my world becomes quiet or I can put on my hearings aids and hear the world I would normally miss out on.

What types of hearing aids do I wear?

Phonak Naída Q series. Top of the line–my audiologist teared up when I first got them because she said that these are the types of hearing aids I should have been getting from day one.  They have revolutionized my life, and I love them.

Do I wear my hearing aids often?

Honestly, not as often as I probably should. I work in an office, where there is always a lot of noise and loud conversations going on. So it makes it hard to focus and concentrate on my work when people are talking about their weekend, and the hum of the heater sounds like something out of a movie.

If there was a pill that would restore my hearing to 100%, would I take it?

Heck no. I would then miss the silence of my life–of being able to tune out the noise when it’s very important.  I don’t want 100% hearing, because I absolutely adore the way my world sounds. Now, if there was a pill out there that would equalize my left ear to the level of my right ear, I might consider it.

How does my world sound?

Hmmm. Honestly, I don’t remember what the world sounded like before I was diagnosed with hearing loss. So that’s hard to say, but when I wear my hearing aids, I can tell the difference.  It’s somewhere between stuffing cotton balls into your ears, and getting your ears “plugged” when you’re pressurizing. It makes me want to keep trying to pop my ears, like there’s something in them.

Any other questions? Drop a comment below or send a message! 🙂

2 thoughts on “My Hearing Loss Journey”

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