Overcoming hearing loss – a personal miracle

This morning the wind blew from the east and from my bedroom I could hear the rustling of leaves that had dropped from the box tree on the verge.

Hearing loss and music (Google image)

Distinct sounds of splashing of water from the tap and the kettle boiling came from the kitchen where my husband made our early morning coffee. Conversation later at breakfast in a cafe with my book-club friends was loud and intelligible.

Overcoming hearing loss seems like a personal miracle. I am reminded of the miracle story in the New Testament, when Jesus restored a beggar’s hearing when he mixed mud and His own spit and put it in the man’s ears.

Fear of hearing loss plagued me for years. Embarrassment and fear of wearing hearing aids seemed more overwhelming than that of hearing loss itself.

I experienced shame about the number of times I asked people to repeat what they’d said. The speech of my great-grandchildren often escaped me. I missed precious moments of communication with people I love. Meetings were difficult. The strain of keeping up when two people spoke at once tired me and I often gave up.  I suspect sometimes the effort of listening intently showed on my face.

As part of the adventure of being eighty, I finally sought professional advice. Visits to a general practitioner, an audiologist, an ear nose and throat consultant and to a second audiologist took over a month.

‘Are you yelling?’ I asked when he put  hearing aids in my ears for the first time.

‘No, I’m speaking in a perfectly normal voice,’ he said. ‘I’m surprised you cope so well, given the severity of your hearing loss.’

‘I think I may have learned to lip-read without knowing it. I didn’t think it was that bad,’ I said.

Finally, I emerged from his office with a pair of state-of-the-art hearing aids, along with a new perspective on the world and gratitude on my lips. I had forgotten how wonderful the world full of sound can be.

The miracle persists. My hearing aids sit in their box overnight and for just as long as it takes me to swim and shower. I forget I am wearing them. Already I hate to be without them.

No one has noticed that I am wearing them. Elizabeth Worts, my dear sister, did not even see the hearing aid when she adjusted one of my earrings at a wedding last weekend.

Hearing loss and dementia

It seems there may be a strong correlation between  hearing loss and the onset of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. There is not enough research, yet, to show whether hearing loss is a predictor or cause of cognitive decline in later years. There are similar findings about visual acuity and dementia.

Hearing loss and technology

Hearing aid technology has advanced over the past few years. Some writers talk about a paradigm shift in the way hearing can be improved although basic models of hearing aids are still available.

The audiologist asked me what I wanted hearing aids to do, and my list was long.

  • I want to hear my great-grandchildren when they whisper
  • to hear at meetings and in places where there is background noise
  • to listen to music with enjoyment and without strain
  • to enjoy simple conversation.

The model the audiologist recommended was not cheap. However with a subsidy from the Australian government and a rebate from HBF the cost was just over $3000. That seems like money well invested in my future health, enjoyment and quality of life.

‘If you had said you wanted to hear the television, I would have suggested an entirely different product,’ the audiologist told ‘me. ‘If that was all you wanted.’

I am still in training and have two further appointments with the audiologist to fine-tune what I think is already an amazing result.

My one regret is that fear prevented me from dealing with hearing loss earlier. Perhaps if I’d researched I would have acted sooner.

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12 thoughts on “Overcoming hearing loss – a personal miracle

  1. Ah, Maureen, this post has made me so happy! I’m sitting here smiling at your everyday miracle. How wonderful to be able to hear the people you love and the music you love once more.
    Your attitude is just as wonderful, though. Others might have written a post about how terrible it was that they had significant hearing loss and now required hearing aids (and that would be fair enough, as it’s a blow, and people often need to grieve that loss). But you write instead of the miracle of restoration of your hearing! You really are an inspiration.

    • Hello, Fiona. Thank you for your lovely comments and encouragement. I can’t believe that I was so vain that I preferred to suffer deafness rather than wear hearing aids, and especially as the ones I have are so unobtrusive and easy to manage. Being eighty actually feels liberating. I feel freer to share such a personal story in the hope that others might reconsider their hearing loss and do something about it.

  2. Oh how fantastic it is now going to be to just sit back and speak without all that yelling!!! Sorry dearest friend, i am being nasty – very glad for you …. and me!!

    • Oh, dear, Elizabeth B! I look forward to communicating with you in new and exciting ways in future! I also am delighted for both of us.

  3. I just love your articles Maureen,
    I went through this dilemma at 55, from years of listening to loud music on my headphones. Yes, I hear you (no pun intended) and you don’t have to be 80 to experience this. I remember feeling as elated as you when they gave me my hearing aids, everything sound so loud and then I remember crying the first time I wore them, it was just like I had entered back into the world again.
    You are a fabulous writer, I almost felt like I was right there with you, or should that be ‘write’ there with you, ha ha. The one compensation for me is that I can now have ‘selective’ hearing, if it is too noisy, I just take my hearing aids off. I also use the captions when watching TV or movies, so that I don’t have to wear them.
    Good on you, for sharing your experiences, now I know I am not on my own.

    • It is really, really important that we know we are not alone, Victoria. I discovered this many years ago. When people share their experiences, we often find others who can relate to them. That’s one of the aims of my ‘over eighty’ blog. I hope to write about and share ideas that seem to be universal. One of the things I’ve learned from writing and having others share with me is that even the most trivial details are often a glimpse into universal truths that we have in common with each other.

      I am really glad you like my posts, and even more delighted that you let me know that you like them. Thank you.

  4. I’m 41 and I wear them! I don’t get any subsidies, though, because of my age. So I don’t have the ‘fancy’ ones. But they do make a difference, and they’re as good as invisible.

    • Thanks for your comment, Mira. I guess being eighty years old has some advantages! I am very lucky to have received the subsidy, and so blessed to have hearing aids that work so well for me.

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