I’ve got a secret. Just between you and me, I’ve been hard of
hearing for many, many years. Procrastinating, postponing,
delaying … that’s been me.
I’ve belonged to the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association
for more than 20 years, but have never worn a hearing aid.
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have hearing loss. In fact, the
hearing in my left ear is extremely poor. How did it happen?
I’m not sure. As a child, I took a bad fall in an acrobatic
class, maybe it was then. When I was 19 my family doctor
discovered I had minimal hearing loss in my right ear. At that
age, who cares? I was invincible – or so I thought.
In my 20s I developed Meniere’s disease (inner ear dizzy
spells), which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It would
go in and out of remission and I survived, with the support
of my family. Time marched on. One day I was on the phone
at work and all of a sudden, I couldn’t hear out of my left
ear. The hearing returned for a short while and then it was
gone, never to return. It was then I learned Meniere’s could
travel. I was now bilateral. And to keep life interesting, I’d
also developed tinnitus (ringing in the ear), too.
Anyone with Meniere’s will understand my frustration. It was
during this time I searched for a support group and found the
Canadian Hard of Hearing Association. CHHA became my
lifeline and sustenance. I became involved, gradually holding
a number of positions, but what I found important was being
able to help others with hearing loss, albeit in some small way.
More than a year ago my audiologist told me it was time for
a hearing aid. These were busy times with many other things
to do and I kept putting it off. This past year I began to require
captioning while watching TV. One evening I was shocked
while attending a local historical meeting. I could not hear
or understand a single word spoken by the president or guest
speaker. My astonishment was monumental! I was OK talking
one-on-one, but totally confused in group conversations.
It was time to act. I went for my annual hearing test and
had a mould made for an hearing aid. It takes some time
to become accustomed to a hearing aid, but if others can
do it, I certainly can, too. It will do me no good sitting in a
drawer. Recently, I’ve learned by not wearing your hearing
aids regularly (which I’ve been guilty of ) the hearing nerve
is not being continually stimulated and it will die. It is just
like a muscle and will atrophy.
Wearing my brand new hearing aid I attended the CHHA
national conference in Toronto this May. I realize it is selective
perception, but couldn’t get over it that virtually everyone in
attendance was wearing either a hearing aid or a cochlear implant.
What I find interesting,
when I put my hearing aid
on in the morning in the
bedroom, I can hear the
radio in the bathroom. I
store it in the bedroom
b e c a u s e w a s h ro o m
dampness and hair spray
are definitely not good for
a hearing aid.
I wear a behind the
ear model basically
because my ear canal is
too small for in the ear
styles. Initially, I thought
everyone would see and
notice I was wearing a
hearing aid. Actually, it
is not very noticeable
unless you’re paying close
attention and it’s a similar
colour to my hair.
– By Jackie Reid
to accept being
hard of hearing
Recently we attended a
function and I meant to
put a new battery in my
aid prior to leaving. Well,
I was busy and didn’t get
around to it. You guessed
it, the battery died while
we were out. Everyone
around me sounded muted and muffled. I’ve learned my
lesson. In future I will replace my battery at home or at least
Life is full of future expectations. One event I’m really looking
forward to is the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association’s
meeting Dec. 3. It is called Deafened But Not Silent ...
Music & Hearing Loss. Speaker Peter Stelmacovich wears a
hearing aid in one ear, a cochlear implant in the other, is an
Audiologist, and plays guitar in a band. How cool is that?
So, my secret is out, and while not perfect, I’m definitely
enjoying improved hearing.•
Jacquie Reid lives in Hamilton. She is the newsletter editor
for the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (Hamilton branch)
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