It's May, my friends. Happy Better Hearing Month! This is a very personal happy month to me because those little doo-dads that you see in the photo above are mine. And in case you aren't certain of what they are, they are hearing aids.
It's usually difficult for even the experts to know for certain what the origin of a hearing loss is. We suspect that mine started way way back when I was 12 years old and had a very bad case of scarlet fever. Hearing loss is a very common side effect of some diseases, scarlet fever among them. Of course, I didn't realize that I had lost some hearing when I was 12. I was a kid. What does a kid know?
But by the time I got to college, I began to have noticeable difficulty in certain environments. Particularly parties and large lecture halls. But I didn't realize the problem as being a hearing problem. I thought that, was far as parties go, I was just shy. As far as the classes in the lecture halls were related, I honestly thought, I was just stupid. I did not see the correlation between those enormous, echoey halls and my hearing being damaged. When my kids were very small, they would play a game that they thought was hysterical where they would hide behind trees and call out for me. I could never tell what direction their voices were coming from, but I thought that was something nobody could figure out. I didn't realize it was just me.
As I got older, the problems grew but I still did not connect the problem to hearing loss. Always an excuse. Avoiding social gatherings? I'm just shy. Not watching TV? I don't like those shows. Dreading phone calls? I never had a good answer for that one I just told myself that I didn't like talking on the phone. Difficulty at restaurants? I just don't have much to say and again, I'm shy. And then one day something happened and that tipped the scales forever.
I attended a fancy schmancy business gathering for Tim's work. It was one of those places with the enormously high ceilings and marble floors and huge sparkly chandeliers and music playing with lots and lots of people milling about and very few places to sit. I did what I always did in those situations, I tried to find a place to hide. Potted palms were a favourite place to lurk. But this time, someone found me.
She was a very nice lady and had a story to tell. She had a crooked sort of smile that was charming and spoke with great animation about....something. She talked a length and with great animation. Taking my cue from her crooked little smile, I smiled and nodded back. Then she gave me an odd look and walked away. I breathed a great sigh of relief that she was gone. And shortly thereafter we left. A few days later, Tim came home from work and told me what really happened. This nice lady's crooked smile was actually a "nervous" habit that happened when she was feeling emotional, And the animated story that she was telling me was the sad tale of her cat having recently died. And here I was smiling and nodding like a lunatic.
She walked away thinking I was the meanest, rottenest, most cat-hating person on the planet. She told a co-worker, who told another co-worker, who told yet another co-worker that her bosses, bosses, boss's wife was this terrible cat-hating woman. The story eventually made it's way to Tim who kindly went to this woman and explained that his wife was not a rotten cat-hater but simply a nice lady who cannot hear.
Okay, now it was impacting my family in a way that I could not longer pretend wasn't happening. It was time to do something. I made an appointment for a hearing test at my local Audiology Office where I found out, to my great surprise, that I have a very significant hearing loss. It was a great shock!! With my permission, they programmed a pair of hearing aids for me and put them on. I walked around in wide-eyed wonder at all the things I was hearing!!! They even allowed me to "test-drive" them at home for a few days. I was just such a stunning difference even I could not deny it. SOLD!
If you do not already know, hearing aids these days are incredibly small. Micro-processers aren't just for cellphones. Here is a photo to give you a better idea of comparable sizes:
The biggest part goes behind my ear, it is essentially hidden. Then there is a clear wire that extend to the tip which goes into my ear canal. 99% of the time, nobody knows I have them on. But honestly, I wouldn't care if they did. I can hear again. I can participate again. I am part of the world around me again. And don't for one minute think about sneaking up on me, because now I can hear you coming!!
It turns out that there are some television shows that I enjoy. I will talk your ear off on the telephone. And to my great surprise, I love a good party. Turns out I'm actually not all that shy.
Every adult should have their hearing at least screened. If for no other reason, than to establish a base line so that if you have problems later, you have something to measure new results against. Most audiology offices offer free screenings. Take advantage of this opportunity. It doesn't take very long and it doesn't hurt one single bit.
Be smarter than me. Don't wait 30 something years before finding out and fixing a problem. I missed so much in my life and for so long and so unnecessarily.
I am so excited about my life again. Instead of hiding behind the potted palms hoping nobody sees me, I'm right out there in the thick of it having a blast!
Join me, won't you?
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.