Watch Me Now: Making Peace With My Hearing Loss

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I saw them watching me. Their small eyes taking in the way I was faking it. How I laughed at the jokes I didn’t hear. The way I nodded neutrally when I could not understand what someone was saying, careful not to agree or disagree just in case they were saying something controversial. The times I avoided certain people that I had trouble hearing. Or sat by myself at a party because I was afraid my hearing loss would be discovered.

My father did all these things. That is how I learned them. And now I was teaching my children the same tactics. Avoid. Deny. Hide. This had to change.

Our hearing loss is genetic, so I may have passed it onto my children. While I hope they will not develop hearing issues — it doesn’t manifest until adulthood — I didn’t want them to feel the same embarrassment and discomfort about hearing loss that my father had and I seemed to as well. I needed to stop the cycle of shame.

When I was growing up, my father’s hearing loss was an unmentionable. I don’t recall a time when he didn’t have hearing problems, but I do remember the progression from no hearing aids to one to two. And the long sideburns he wore well past the time it was in style to conceal them. He did his best to hide it at home, at work and with friends, who slowly stopped making plans with him.

Our family was not supportive. My mother sometimes muttered things behind his back to my sister and I, telling us not to worry about what she said because he couldn’t hear us. I remember thinking this was odd, but I was a young child and content enough to play whispering games with my mother if that was what she wanted. I don’t think my father heard what we were saying, but I am sure he felt the disrespect that this behavior communicated. And we were the ones who were supposed to love him.

Maybe that is why he didn’t count on us for help. He never asked us to repeat what somebody said or rearrange the seating at the dinner table to make a place where he could better hear. He didn’t teach us to look at him when we spoke to him so he could lip-read or to speak slowly and clearly. Perhaps he did not know these tricks — the ones I use in my life today to communicate with my family.

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When You Are Tackled by Tinnitus In The Testing Booth

The hearing aids come out. I startle from the shock of the ringing. My tinnitus is no longer masked by the real sounds around me. The door to the testing booth shuts with a thud that I feel more than hear. Since I wear my hearing aids 24/7, I rarely experience how quiet everything is without them. In some ways the cessation of sound is a relief, but only until the tinnitus arrives. Silence, yet for me, it is not silent. I sit alone with my ringing, waiting for the hearing test to start.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

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How Many Ways Can You Say “What?”

As someone with hearing loss, I spend a lot of time asking people to repeat themselves. Saying “What?” all the time has gotten a little boring, so I have been brainstorming about other ways to ask the same question.

Recently I was having coffee with someone who was impossible for me to hear. His voice was in my weakest decibel range, he kept covering his mouth with his hands, and he was a mumbler! I explained about my hearing loss and asked him to speak louder, but it was a lost cause. I decided to play a game. How many different ways could I ask him to repeat what he said before I had to reuse a method.

Here is my list. Please add your suggestions in the comments.

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When It’s Time for A Hearing Loss Friendly TV

We are not huge TV watchers, but we enjoy it when we do it — usually for movies or some evening downtime before bed. For this reason, and maybe others, we still have the same TV we purchased 12 years ago when we moved into our home. It is a fine TV — flat screen, hangs on the wall, decent picture — but it is outdated. It was time for an upgrade.

My husband’s primary mission was a larger screen and a higher quality picture. I was more concerned with the sound quality. If we were going to make enhancements, I wanted a more hearing-loss friendly TV.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

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5 Things a Person With Hearing Loss Wants From An Audiologist

I’ll never forget my first hearing test. I was in my mid-20s, in graduate school and terrified. My father had hearing loss, as did his mother, so the fact that I was getting a hearing test so early in life was not surprising. It was traumatic nonetheless.

My father felt ashamed of his hearing loss. He went out of his way to hide it by isolating himself from friends, family and co-workers. I remember parties where he would sit alone in the corner, watching and waiting for someone to approach him. At the time, I thought he was just shy. Now I experience hearing loss, too, and I know the truth. He was probably exhausted from trying to hear with all the background noise and decided quiet solitude was better than the embarrassment and effort of not hearing what others had to say.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

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