A Discussion of hearing

What did she say???? (photo by Timothy Stark)

What did she say????
(photo by Timothy Stark)

I used to think if you develop a hearing loss, all you need to do is buy a hearing aid, wear it and you’d hear like anyone else. Was I ever wrong! Hearing loss can be very complicated and aids can’t always work magic.

When I suddenly lost the hearing in my right ear, ‘Smarty pants’ here visited a hearing aid dealer to ‘fix it’. I wasn’t going to annoy family and friends by asking them to repeat over and over again. Not me….

It was a surprise and a disappointment. No hearing aid worked. Apparently it depends on where the damage is. Although several times since I’ve tried again, it has not yet been possible for technology to correct the hearing in that ear. (I’m not giving up. Have you ever known me to do that?)

Once upon a time, I didn’t understand why friends who had aids didn’t

Speak up!

Speak up!

always wear them. Thank goodness I was smart enough to keep my big mouth shut even when I thought people who didn’t use their aids were being inconsiderate. (Bless my mom, who taught me to be kind.)

A sense of humour can always help. My late friend Hans once laughed and said ‘I know that’s not what you said, but what I heard was just hilarious!’

Still, I now realize how difficult dealing with hearing loss can be and it isn’t a joke. My working ear no longer functions as well as it used to. My family, bless them, have so far shown patience and understanding, but some of my hard-of-hearing friends are not so lucky. Lack of empathy from those around us, especially those we love, can be devastating.

Well, you probably already know there is nothing shy about me. Ergo, I am not reluctant to talk about my hearing loss. After all, it isn’t like having committed a murder or something. Nor do I mind asking to be seated where I feel I can hear best. People usually will cooperate if we explain. I’ve learned my willingness to be honest about my hearing loss is a plus.

Modern Hearing Aid

Modern Hearing Aid

As part of a class I’m so glad I attended at the Western Institute of

Ear Trumpet, 1860

Ear Trumpet, 1860

the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (WIDHH), an organization serving our community for 60 years, I learned we hard-of-hearing folk have certain rights and responsibilities. I find it interesting.

We are entitled to respect, acceptance, safety and security — and access to information. It is our responsibility to let others know we are hard-of-hearing; to carry some kind of communication device; give instructions on how best to communicate with us; and plan in advance when we can. We also need to educate ourselves about what help is available in the way of amplifiers, devices and signaling technology, and which of these can best serve us. (If a class such as the one I attended is available where you live, do take advantage of it.)

Which situations are workable? Which are not? Loud background noises can make hearing

I'm trying, I'm trying...

I’m trying, I’m trying…

impossible for me. Very soft voices are frustrating and sometimes I find myself avoiding friends whom I can’t hear, not because I don’t like them, but because they are so hard to understand it is exhausting. And, accents accompanied by a soft voice are way off the chart.

I like to see your mouth when you are talking to me — it helps a lot. If you face me, it is much easier. Talk to me from the bedroom when I’m in the kitchen and forget it. It’s all sweet nothings. Cover your mouth and I’ll probably ask you to lower your hand so I can see your lips move. I really do want to know what you’re saying.

Patience young man.

Patience young man.

What does all this mean to family and friends? What can you do to help? Know that we love you. Know we want to see you. We need you in our lives more than ever because hearing loss can be isolating and frightening. We don’t want to be cut off or dismissed, you are more important than ever. Let’s work together to create better understanding for all.

14 thoughts on “A Discussion of hearing

  1. Yeah, right on, Muriel! My Mom was hard of hearing. Our friends are becoming more hard of hearing… And yeah, good for you for trying to get a hearing aid. It can be so incredibly frustrating. Its good to get a chance to hear (!) about such things so we can understand what its like for those who are hard of hearing…


  2. Great Blog Muriel (As usual). Keep up the great stuff.
    Jim Watson, The Goldie Company and consultant for the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

  3. thanks Muriel, I did get a hearing aid from the western institute, but I find it picks up all the other noise around and so very seldom use it, unless with one or two others in a quiet place…….xoi

  4. I just came from a musical. I was in row M which helper with the sound legel. I wear 2 hearing aides.

    I agree with all the things mentioned. I also find accents difficult and people speaking very fast.

    I discovered something today. When I didn’t understand the words of the songs, I turned. Y hearing aids LOWER. I didn’t hear as much of the orchestra and heard the words better. That worked for me today with my hearing aides and my hearing loss.

  5. It is impossible to know what you are purchasing until the FDA requires hearing aid companies to use generic names for its features and then rate them according to international ANSI standards. Imagine a giant Excel chart with ratings and features. Consumer Reports has never rated hearing aids.

    Audiologists should also not be permitted to prescribe and sell hearing aids or it appears they are motivated by profit and ease of programming. We do not permit conflicts of interest in pharma so why do we allow it with hearing aids? It is time for the FDA to demand greater transparency.

    Janice S. Lintz, CEO, Hearing Access & Innovations

  6. Thanks Chris:
    However, do be aware ‘The Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing’ is located right around the corner from you. They are a non-profit organization serving our community for 60 years now, and if/when you need them, you can purchase hearing devices there and they will certainly do their best for you. I know about all they do since I was on their board for six years. Muriel

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