So you want to know what it is like to lose your hearing…?
Well, it is pretty crazy.
And what I really mean is that it is both mentally and physically out of your mind – strangeness.
Why does everybody mumble?!
It is always easier to blame others too when things start to go off the rails, so that is what I did as much as possible in the early days.
But it was hard for me to point a finger at someone else when I could no longer be sure what song was playing on the radio.
Luckily for me I didn’t get a chance to miss music right away since I had music playing in my head all the time. It is called tinnitus, or “ringing in your ears” – even though it doesn’t have to be ringing. It can be beeping, music, rushing sounds – all kinds of things. They don’t really know why it happens, but it turned out to be the perfect storm to make my bad hearing even worse.
For me, my tinnitus was often in the form of music. Sometimes it was just a line or two of the same music, and it just played over and over – for hours!
At night, I would often ask my husband if he could hear that music? He would look at me strangely, and then just shake his head. Oh boy, this is going to be a long night.
My level of frustration from social interactions went way up too since listening was suddenly a lot of work. I remember getting pretty ticked off a few times with people that I couldn’t understand very well.
When I finally went to my audiologist she couldn’t believe the hearing loss that I had experienced in such a short period of time. It is very uncommon. I think that was suppose to make me feel better, but instead I felt much worse.
I would like to stay that I faced this challenge with courage, but truth be told at this point I was ready to hide under my covers for the rest of my days.
Sometimes when I would wake up in the morning, and it would feel to me as if my mind had forgotten overnight that it couldn’t hear anymore….I would immediately start to panic!
A lot of people were not very good about it either….I mean you could hear a few months ago right?
The other trouble is that there isn’t a lot of help out there. At least not that I could easily find. Hard of Hearing people tend to be “natural” introverts since communicating is so much work.
The other side is that a lot of people are in denial. One in 6 adult Canadians have hearing loss, but I would guess less that only about 1 in 20 actually admit it, and then do they do anything about their hearing loss?
Yes, Dad I am talking to you!
Not being able to hear can be humiliating at times. Often I have no one to blame for this but myself. I try to fake it, and I never do a very good job of it.
It also can be very tiresome to constantly have to share with strangers that you have lost your hearing:
No, it is not coming back, and no, I am not going to share my personal medical situation with you just because you asked. No, your condolences are not helping. Can I have my dry cleaning now please before I start to cry?
I guess you could say that I had some dark days…..ok, maybe a few dark months.
I got pretty depressed there for a while, and since I was also facing brain surgery you could add terrified to the list mental health issues I was fighting daily.
The biggest turning point for me was when I realised that I was still the same, hilarious person I was before I lost my hearing. I don’t know why that was such a revelation to me, but it was. Yes, I was the same person, just without hearing. Since I didn’t know any of friends or family who liked me just because I could hear, I figured maybe things didn’t have to change as much as I thought.
My difficulties with my hearing loss did not end with my acceptance. There are crazy challenges that come up all the time, but I have lots of people who help me out now. Also, I have learned to advocate for myself while making an effort to connect with supportive agencies and groups too.
Finally I am happy to say that I still have my sense of humour. I may have lost my hearing, but through it all I was pleased to discover that I haven’t lost my touch. 🙂