by Linda Bilodeau
Recently, I had the pleasure of having dinner with a woman who also has hearing loss. We met several years ago and became friends after having many conversations about our shared experiences with hearing loss. I found out that she developed sudden hearing loss in her forties. I told her that my inherited sensorineural hearing loss was discovered when I was in my twenties. We each wear hearing aids and have trouble hearing in background noise. Getting together in person isn’t easy. Luckily, we have technology, spunk and hearing husbands.
When arriving at the restaurant, I was thankful that my friend’s husband had asked for a quiet corner table. He made sure that his wife and I were seated with our backs against a wall. We both have high-power hearing aids with artificial intelligence, and we can adjust our aids to subtract environmental noise.
We ordered wine after we adjusted our aids and were able to hear each other comfortably. While our husbands talked about local and national politics, we talked about hearing loss. My friend had recently changed audiologists and felt her new Resound Aids were just what she needed. I praised my Oticon More Aids and stated that I hear significantly better.
We talked about the difficulties of living with hearing loss; how we have to concentrate to hear and how exhausted we sometimes are after being out with others. We discussed the misinterpretations that we sometimes have with our spouses and other friends, simply because we didn’t hear correctly. We agreed that store clerks and waiters and waitresses were not always understanding of our hearing loss even after we asked that they speak louder or more slowly. We discussed hearing loops and the need for them in all public buildings. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a hearing loop, now,” my friend said, “we wouldn’t be struggling to hear.”
We continued to talk about the hearing technology that is out there. How did we manage before aids were paired with smart phones, tablets, and computers? How did we ever hear television programs before TV adaptors, subtitles, and home hearing loops?
The waiter came around, and with lightning speed went through the dinner specials. We turned to our husbands who interpreted for us. We chose our meals, and then chatted about the need for new technology and a cure for hearing loss. When the evening was over, we hugged and said how nice it was to be with another person who understood what we each have to go through.
And so it goes. Everyone who has hearing loss may encounter difficulties. At times, we face insurmountable hearing odds. For me personally, some examples of insurmountable hearing odds I face are hearing in any kind of background noise and hearing women’s voices. The daily challenges one may face as a person with hearing loss may feel frustrating and saddening sometimes. When you feel discouraged because of your hearing loss, find a friend and sit down and talk to that person. The sharing and caring that comes from someone who understands what it is like to not have normal hearing might make your meanderings through the hearing world easier.