Derrick Coleman of the Seattle Seahawks has a new fan. This Duracell ad rendered me speechless and eager to share. I recently had a hearing aid rep say, in response to setting up my new aids, “you are a teacher…with that loss (looking at my audiogram)…amazing”. The thing is, I never knew any different. Growing up I had a classmate with a severe hearing loss, she struggled through every aspect of life. Early on I knew that I wanted a “normal” life. Friends, an education, an engaging life, and most importantly a family. This path was and is not easy. In fact as I age and my kids grow older, it gets more difficult. Harder to hear, more frustrations (them and mine), and tiring. Trying to hear and listen wears me out. But I know this is who I am and my path, though rocky at times, is what I am meant to do. I am a mom, a wife, friend, and teacher. My hearing impairment is a part of me, but not all of me. Derrick Coleman. Inspirational. “Trust your power”
Why, yes, yes I did!
On a recent sunny Saturday, I joined a few friends for a Wicked production. The three of us suffer from various degrees of Tinnitus. Occasionally we share our ringing or noise stories. Finally, I can share my bothersome experiences.
As the performance started, one thing became clear, crystal clear in fact. Amazingly I heard every note, breathe, sigh. Even thinking about it now, tears fill my eyes and heart. For years, I have attended our local high school performances or community productions. As entertaining, captivating as they are, my experience is often lack luster. Walking away I am left curious and disappointed. Our local Performing Arts Center is a new beautiful facility, yet acoustically I hear less than half of each production. I laugh, because those around me do. Tears only come as I glance around at others glistening eyes. Missed it, my heart cries.
Wicked opened my ears and warmed my heart. Finally. I am not ashamed to admit it, I joyfully cried driving home. If only every theatrical experience could be that rewarding.
I failed. First time ever. Okay so not a pass/fail kind of thing, but still, it felt horrible. Tears brimmed my eyes. I held it together. Until I got to the car. Flood gates opened. Out rushed years of frustration and pain, heartache over what’s to come. Mumbles my husband could vaguely comprehend.
A hearing test. Over the years my hearing has stayed relatively the same. A happy medium I like to say. For the first time, since I can recall, I dipped. More than a few dB s. Five to ten dB s to be exact, across the scale.
For the first time in my life, I obsessed how long I’ll have hearing my daughter’s ridiculous laugh, M’s sweet stories, little man’s hilarious ramblings, or my husband’s lovely “sirdspukite”. Looking back I went to the deep end, I know. However, I cherish my limited hearing.
What’s next I asked Cari, my super cool audiologist. Her diagnosis? New hearing aids. Cough, cough, swallow deep. What’s that going to run me, I asked. $3000-3400. Yikes!! More deep breaths. A piece she punches in. Whoa, I silently gagged. Sure my insurance will pay about $1500 a piece. Do the math. $6800 – 3000 insurance = $3800 out-of-pocket. Yeah, we have it, but it is set aside for the eventually, hopefully sale of house one. Or when our 13-year-old, no payment van reaches its final days. It’s there and I do not like to touch it, ever.
The temporary solution was to beef up my current daily dependencies. I bought some time without paying a dime. But the capabilities of these aids has almost been reached.
Next stop, the ENT. Something must be wrong. No, I know my outlook. Irreparable nerve damage.
If only I could put the positive part of losing to being down 5-10 pounds.
I’ve been bitten. And it hurts. I hate jealousy, but right now it stings my soul. For almost 36 years, hearing aids and I are Thing 1 and Thing 2, inseparable.
Recently my father, a relative newbie in the hard of hearing world, purchased new hearing devices. High end ones. So good that he sat in the rear seat of a mini-van with two chatting kids, a radio chiming Christmas tunes, and my mom and I gabbing away…soon he piped in, “Jude (my mom), just so you know, I can hear everything that you are saying.” What?! I was in the front seat, closer to the action and I could not hear elements of the car ride. In addition to the new ear “toys”, he also is benefiting from a new Assistive Listening Device to enable him to hear the TV clearly. Again, jealous!
The hubs and I have limited technology cell phones. Over the holidays, our gift to each other? New phones! Yeah. But I hate cell phone shopping. Instead of just looking over the phone and discussing the technology, megapixel, 3G vs 4G, etc, I am stuck asking about M/T ratings. And no one. ever. knows! Also, I ask to take a call on the phones. Most salespeople do not understand and instead act annoyed. Ugh. Yes, I am looking forward to an advanced cell phone technology, but am not ready for the 1/2 day process.
Someday, when the pocketbook is not busy saving for when house #1 sells or busy raising three little ones, I will splurge on new ear candy. Until then, all I want for Christmas is two rockin‘ aids.
- Assistive Devices: Inexpensive and Alternative Ways to Address Hearing Loss (healthyhearing.com)
- Love, Marriage and Hearing Loss: Listen to me Dear! (healthyhearing.com)
- Gift Ideas for Individuals with Hearing Loss (healthyhearing.com)
Most likely no. I have a bilateral mild to severe hearing impairment. It is all I have ever known. At 2 weeks, I contracted Bacterial Meningitis and spent a month in a hospital battling the illness. Most likely my hearing impairment is a direct result of Meningitis and the treatment I received at that young age.
I am a parent, wife, teacher, and friend. Most times, I can hear, enjoy, and participate in general conversations. That said, I miss stuff. All the time. I mishear stuff. Often.
Years of experience has taught me to ask people to repeat themselves, read faces and body language, watch faces and lips, and most importantly WORK at hearing. And it is not easy. Many days by the time dinner rolls around, the Tinnitus in my ears sounds very much like a freight train laying on the whistle, constantly.
A few things most people do not understand. Whispering to me is like a trying to play telephone with a toddler. I will not get most of what you are saying. Next, if I have a confused look, please repeat yourself. Sometimes, I just give up and do not try for clarification. A few times people will say, if you didn’t understand, why didn’t you ask me to repeat? Um, sometimes I mishear. Occasionally words sound alike and I get misinformation from what I hear. I may be aware that I misheard, but other times, I have no clue that I took in the wrong information. So please do not get upset with me. Bars, gyms, dance clubs, or loud areas are difficult. Sound is coming from so many angles that I feel like I’m standing in a train switching yard and do not know where to turn. In these environments, I may have trouble matching voices to faces. English sometimes sounds like a foreign langauge and foreign languages sound like Dory from Finding Nemo. Lastly, water and I have a love/hate relationship. While I love being in and around water, my hearing aids do not. That means while I am swimming, lounging by the pool, or splashing with the kids, my hearing sidekicks are not enjoying this. So I am like a fish out of the water. But in the water.