A while ago I wrote about my hearing loss for the first time (click here to read the full post). In fact, I’ve never really told anyone about it apart from the occasional ”I can’t actually hear you right now” comments. Here’s the recap: I may (or may not) be going progressively deaf. I was boring hearing, but now I have mild mixed hearing loss – from which I will never recover. My hearing has significantly deteriorated in the last year, with me starting to monitor it 4 years ago after my EDS diagnosis.
11 days ago I collected my first ever hearing aids. Not exactly in the plan for an average 23 year old, but hey, that’s what you get for being a medical mystery! Wait, I need to be completely serious for once. I joke around about my health a lot. I often, flippantly, make comments about it. Being that casual, or blunt, gives the impression that something isn’t a big deal, when it really is. Don’t judge me, it’s the only coping mechanism I have.
Right, back to the topic in hand – my hearing! More precisely, how have I been getting on with hearing aids?!?!?! Well, heck of a lot has changed. I may only have mild loss, but I didn’t realise how much I was missing out on. I guess that’s what happens when things disappear gradually.
“Blindness separates us from things; deafness separates us from people” – Helen Keller
Too be honest, it’s been… overwhelming these last couple of days. I’ve cried in disbelief more than once. It’s very hard to explain in words, but I’ll give it a shot. Think about comparing your bog-standard TV and a HD one. The difference? Well, it’s not that noticeable. It doesn’t hit your eyes as soon as you walk in to the room. But slowly, you realise. Everything seems crisper, and the colours seem to jump out the screen. If you watch a decent program like wildlife on a HD TV, it’s breath-taking. Everything seems more beautiful, as if that was even possible. That’s the closest way to describing using hearing aids.
I’ve been shopping, and now I can hear snippets of the conversations people are having as they walk past. I’ve walked into shops and been able to recognise the background music, just like listening to my iPod through headphones. I can understand what a cashier is saying to me. All of that used to be a single wall of noise, loud but indistinguishable.
Last week I gave my first site tour at my new job. I could understand what they were all saying even though the family were never directly facing me. You never really appreciate what a luxury that is until you don’t have it anymore. Now, I can actually follow a conversation.
Gosh, and where do I start with music. Overall, this has hit me the most. I’ve always loved music, even if I don’t generally talk about my music interests in everyday chat. I’ve never been to a live gig, and too be honest, I’ve not seen much live music. I’ve always stayed away because I wouldn’t have been able to hear whoever was with me. But, god, that’s about to change. The first time I listened to my iPod… I cried… Well, I broke down. Music is breath-taking, it’s… incredible. I didn’t realise how much of it I’ve been missing. Wow, just… wow. I’ve fallen in love all over again.
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything” – Plato
I hasten to add something – adapting to hearing aids is not as simple as it sounds. It’s not like wearing glasses, aids don’t fix everything. As emotional as I have got whilst writing this, I am still hard of hearing. Hearing aids do not fix that, but they do help. As wonderful as they are, sound will not sound as natural as it should. Technology is still catching up, and for now I get a lot of white noise if I turn them up. Try rewiring your brain to understand input it hasn’t had in a while, it’s not easy.
But, if I’ve been distant with you recently, please get back in contact. I want to hear your voices now that I can. I want to get back to living my life, and I need a million and one experiences to retrain my brain to hear again. Gosh, it’s going to be heck of a journey.
“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” “Go where you feel the most alive.”