As the founding editor of Phonak’s community blog “Open Ears” (now part of “Hearing Like Me“) I contributed a series of articles on hearing loss between 2014 and 2015. Here they are.
With the early days of hearing aid wonder hearing behind me, I sometimes find myself forgetting them. The other day, it happened again. I left home and realised just in time that I didn’t have my ears with me.
I blame my morning shower. I have to wait until my ears are completely dry to put my hearing aids in. By that time I’m up and about and out of my “waking up and getting started” routine. What is the best solution to this? I definitely haven’t found it yet.
As I live alone, I rarely wear my hearing aids in my flat. I did during the first months though, to help my brain get used to them. And when I’m in public transport, I’m often listening to podcasts with my earbuds in — not physically compatible with having hearing aids in your ears too. So I don’t put them in each time I leave the flat, either.
Each time I catch myself leaving home without my hearing aids in my handbag, I turn back with this sense of dread in the pit of my stomach, imagining what would have happened if I hadn’t realised I was missing them. Today, the thought of teaching a class, giving a talk, having a meeting or just coffee with a friend without my hearing aids feels like an impossible mission. It almost makes me panicky to think about it. I find myself wondering how I ever managed to do without (and so, so much!) for so long.
It makes sense, though. My brain is “less trained” in compensating my hearing loss. I have less practice. And so, when I do have to compensate like I used to, I struggle much more.
When I was in India last year, one of my hearing aids escaped my fingers as I was taking it out of its box, and it dropped to the floor. When I put it in my ear and turned it on, it was dead.
Heck. Cold sweat.
I had three weeks of travel left. I ended up FedExing the broken hearing aid to my audiologist in Switzerland, who changed a component, and FedExed it back to me. India being India, the whole thing took about 10 days. But at least I had two hearing aids for the end of my stay. Those 10 days when I had to manage with only one hearing aid were terribly annoying and frustrating. I really felt handicapped.
Every now and again, I go “naked ears”. I chat with my neighbour without my hearing aids. Yup, I can still have a conversation. That’s reassuring. It feels a bit muffled, but I can still understand what she says. When I’m looking at her. When she’s facing me. Because she speaks rather loudly and clearly. And then she says something to me with her back turned, or in a lower voice, or over noise, and I remember why I love my hearing aids, and rather than feeling dependent, I feel grateful for them.
Also published on Medium.