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 Now Hear This

Part 2





Update:  October, 2008.  Since this page was prepared, I have had cochlear implant surgery.  If you would like to know about my "CI Journey," you can find more here:  News.

See "Hearing, Page 1" for more about this.

The first step to getting help is just plain accepting the fact that your hearing has deteriorated to the point that you need assistance in hearing.  Sometimes it happens so gradually that you aren't aware of it until you sleep through the alarm or don't hear the doorbell or miss a phone call.  My first recognition was when my husband noticed that the alarm didn't awaken me.  I was sleeping on my "good ear" and just didn't hear it.

Retrospectively, I now realize that I always had hearing problems even as a child, but I didn't know that I wasn't hearing as well as my friends.  I worked hard in school, made good grades, but I noticed that it was easier when I was able to sit in the front of the room.  Some teachers had us sit alphabetically, and lucky for me, Adams was at the front.  In my case, I am sure genetics played a large part in my problems.  My dad was very hard of hearing as was his dad.  My mother also wore a hearing aid, but most of her problem was caused by an accident that damaged her eardrum. 

Thankfully, we are more aware today that children need to be tested for hearing and sight problems at an early age.  I certainly recommend it!

  Hearing Aids 

I am not even close to being an expert on hearing aids, but I have gone from "all-in-the-ear" to "behind-the-ear" to "digital behind-the-ear" aids; so I know that those three are available.

I would like to point out something that I learned the hard way with my first hearing aid.  The first audiologist suggested putting a hearing aid in the ear that tested to be the "worst."  All I got was amplified "noise" and just finally quit wearing it.  At the insistence of my mother, I visited another specialist in Lexington, Kentucky who showed me that his test revealed that I was understanding more words when he amplified the "good ear."  Thus my first successful experience with the all-in-ear hearing aid in my better-hearing ear.

They don't restore "natural hearing," and anyone expecting that will soon give up on wearing their aids.  It requires some adjustments.  Your voice sounds "funny" and some sounds are too loud, but with persistence and patience it soon becomes "natural" to the wearer of a hearing aid as you learn to make necessary adjustments.

As time went on, my hearing continued to deteriorate and I began wearing two behind-the-ear aids (more powerful than all-in-the-ear).  Eventually the hearing loss became so severe that I am now wearing digital aids.  Unfortunately, I have very little natural hearing and have to rely on speech-reading as much as sound.  The article I began this feature with (Will You Help Me Hear You) could have been written by me (not nearly as well, of course!), because I can identify with everything Mr. Kennedy wrote.

Only those who are trained to do audio testing can help you determine what will benefit you most, but may I encourage anyone who is not hearing "up to par" to be tested.  Don't be backward or embarrassed to wear a hearing aid.  People don't feel shy about wearing eyeglasses when they need them, and they should feel the same way about hearing aids.  We who are hearing impaired have lots of company!

When you first notice you are not hearing well, you need to be evaluated by an Otologist (Otolaryngologist or Otorhinolaryngologist) who can determine the cause.  It could be some other health problem.  His evaluation can help determine if the problem is treatable before a hearing instrument is purchased.  You will receive a report of his findings that will assist the audiologist in his testing to learn what instrument will serve you best.

In most cases you will have a trial period to decide if you wish to buy the aid.  You might be charged a fee that will be credited toward the purchase price if you buy it.  Some dispensers will give you thirty days of trial.

An ear mold will be made to custom fit your ear.  Don't hesitate to complain if it is not comfortable.  If it hurts your ear, you won't wear it! 

Wearing an ear mold may accelerate your "ear wax" (cerumen).  It was "normal" for me, but everyone is different.  Some folks may find they are allergic to the mold material and may have to have a non-allergic material used.  In short, do everything possible to make the experience as comfortable as possible so you will be able to wear your hearing aids and enjoy the improvement they will bring to your life.

Do your homework before you see the specialists who can help you choose what is best for you.  There are web sites and information available, so take advantage of it.  Don't wait!  If in doubt about your need, settle it by seeing a specialist!

A special note--When conversing with a hearing impaired person wearing a hearing aid, please don't shout at them.  That's why they wear the hearing aid, to increase the volume of sounds.  If you raise your voice more than normal, it will only cause the sound of your voice to become distorted.  Of course whispers are hard to follow, but normal volume will assist the hearing impaired person to understand you better.  Just speak distinctly and not too fast; and don't change the subject abruptly without warning.



Hearing impairment tends to make one feel isolated because you miss out on discussions and conversations, but there are ways to overcome this.  The first one is personal determination and realizing that you are not being deliberately isolated.

It is imperative that the hearing impaired practice speech-reading.  The words your ears miss can be filled in by watching the speaker's lips.  Once you begin to do this, it becomes automatic.  Hearing friends can't possible know what you experience and sometimes simply don't know what to do to help you to hear them.  Tell them what they need to do to include you.  Most people are caring and want to be of help; ignore the actions of those who are not, for your sake!

I was blessed when I lived in Kentucky to have a good friend, Jean, who took notes during church and shared them with me.  Now my sister, Lorinda, sits by me when she isn't at the organ and shares tidbits of the sermon; and with the few words I can pick up myself, I can put the sermon puzzle parts together to form the subject picture.  If you are blessed with such a friend, thank God for them!  If not, it could be that no one has thought about doing that for you; suggest it.

Of course, there will be situations that you can do nothing about.  Then it's important to allow the Holy Spirit to operate in your life with the "fruit of the Spirit," including peace and joy.  Even people with good hearing have to depend on the Lord to bring them peace and joy.  We live in a troubled world, and there are things worse than being hearing impaired! 

"...The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).


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