Hello again! I haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth, though it really has been a long time since I’ve posted. I really meant to so many times, but somehow time just fizzled. As we get older, we start to realize, acknowledge, and perhaps even accept some of our less than stellar characteristics, and one of mine is letting time get away from me. Maybe you’ve had this happen to you, too – you really mean to do something, but other things come up, other things take priority, something just causes you to say “ok, I’ll get back to this tomorrow,” but then tomorrow the same thing happens. That’s what the last several months have been like for me. Of course adding a puppy to the family accounts for much of that, and now our beloved Brooklyn has a precious little brother. (More on Hudson with a picture in another post.) He’s 10 months old and already showing tremendous empathy and understanding that I can’t hear, so I’m feeling very secure with my two furry guardians. He’s also noticed my hearing aids – note to readers – if you wear hearing aids, be very careful to keep them away from dogs. I’m told they love to chew them up!
Speaking of hearing aids (how’s that for a segue?) I’ve come to the end of the line with mine and it’s time to try something new. Mine have been a lifeline to me for a long time now, and frankly, it’s very scary to give them up. They may not do all the tricks and perform as much as new ones might, but they’re like comfortable old slippers. We know each other, we’re comfortable with each other, and I’ve relied on them.
There’s not much anyone can do for my loss, but I’m never going to stop trying. Without the hearing aids, I’m 100% deaf, and even with them, have zero speech understanding. Usually with my kind of loss, cochlear implants are the best option, but, for many reasons, they’re not an option for me. So I have to try to manage with what’s available and do the best I can.
About 30 years ago, the doctors and audiologists told us that I was very close to the end of the line. That I wouldn’t be able to wear hearing aids at all and I should prepare my family and house for the inevitable – my having to live in absolute silence. Whether it’s my stubbornness or someone watching over me, I can’t say, but that still hasn’t happened. Though I don’t hear any sound whatsoever without them, hearing aids still bring some sound into my ears. My audiologist explained how those few sounds help me read lips and keep me connected to the ‘outside’ world, so even though I still can’t really hear, it helps my brain make sense of some things and it’s worth continuing.
So I’ve had the new hearing aids with the hot new technology for a few weeks now. I can see how incredible they’d be for someone with more hearing than I have, and how they’d change people’s lives. I get jealous sometimes and wish I could experience the full value of their amazing capabilities. But for me, it’s just continuing what I’ve been doing for so many years – I’m coping. But it’s well worth it. I’ve learned to thrive when I might have only survived.
People still ask me how I live with hearing loss. And I still ask them what choice do they think I have? Should I curl up and die because I can’t hear? Should I hide in my house and give up any semblance of life because I can’t hear? Should I become a miserable person and complain all the time? Not in my world. I don’t ask for accolades for learning to live in a world that depends on sounds for everything from safety to communication to joy. I’m not a hero and I’m not doing anything anyone else can’t do. I’m just stubborn and refuse to have any less of a life because my ears don’t work.
I don’t often give advice or make assumptions, but for anyone out there with hearing loss, I implore you – don’t quit. Don’t give up. Use anything available to you to help you cope. If you have to sign, learn sign. If you need people to repeat, ask them to repeat. If you need them to write it down, ask them to write it down. Ask for help when you need it and don’t be shy about it. We only come to the end of the line when we give up and refuse to keep going.