How I Learned To Accept Hearing Loss

I am proud to share my hearing loss story and tips on Mango Health

Have you ever struggled to hear a conversation? Whether you were in a loud environment or speaking to someone soft spoken, you’ll know that being hard of hearing can be uncomfortable and even embarrassing. Hearing health advocate Shari Eberts shares how she learned to accept the onset of hearing loss.

I grew up the child of someone with hearing loss. My father wore hearing aids, but they were never seen — always hidden by sideburns grown long for that purpose. He never discussed his hearing loss and went out of his way to hide it. I remember social gatherings where he would disappear only to be found sitting at a table in the corner alone. I always wondered why, but now I know. He probably couldn’t hear and was embarrassed, or exhausted and just couldn’t bring himself to bother.

So when I first started having problems hearing in my mid-20s, I hid it, following his example. And when I got my first pair of hearing aids, I refused to wear them. I was embarrassed. I am not sure why. Was it a learned response from watching my father, or was it something larger — the stigma associated with hearing loss — that I wanted to avoid? In any event, my mother’s reaction was not encouraging. “Do you really need to wear them?” she asked me.

Eventually, the answer became yes, I really did need to wear them. But still, I avoided them as much as possible. I remember sneaking them in on the way to work, wearing them all day hidden behind my long hair and whipping them out as soon as the elevator door closed behind me on my way out of the office. I hated my hearing aids and only wore them when I absolutely needed to, and never socially or with my friends or family.

But then I had two children of my own, and this forced me to come to terms with my hearing loss. But how?

Click here to continue reading on Mango Health.

Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter

Never miss a post! Click here to sign up for email alerts. 

17 thoughts on “How I Learned To Accept Hearing Loss

  1. It took me about 7 years to seek out help and now I’m on the verge of being CI implanted. Many places are not hearing impaired friendly, even some hospitals and audiologist offices. It is a tough disability to have at times. Yes learning to accept and be outspoken about your loss is important. Thanks for the reminder!

    • It’s a very tough disabilty to have, and it can be very isolating in both working and social situations. Ive had a profound hearing loss for most of my adult life, and have developed amazing lip reading skills as a result to survive, but have always considered a CI, but afraid to take the risk and jump in. Good luck with yours. Would love to learn more about the up to date CIs, and If it’s better choice then hearing aids.

  2. I’m not sure this is directly related to accepting my hearing loss as more about understanding it. I keep reading comments here and on Facebook that say how much difficulty people have understanding what is being said. I was told by an audiologist that only a very small minority of people have trouble understanding speech (with a hand motion indicating me) and that most people have totally clear hearing with hearing aids. I have been losing my hearing for a long time but in the last few years ago I had an acute infection from a tick bite and either from the medication I received or the infection, my hearing took a dip to the point I now need hearing aids to function. I have a moderate hearing loss. I do not do well with the recorded word recongnition test but I do okay with a live voice test. My natural voice is not buzzy or raspy but with the hearing aids everything is buzzy and raspy. I need the hearing aids to hear people but everyone is buzzy. The audiologist gets upset I won’t use the phone through my hearing aids. If I do, the phone conversation is buzzy and raspy and I can’t understand the person on the other end of the line. With my natural hearing I am fine and understand perfectly as long as the volume is up on the phone. I have been told the most bizarre things by audiologists. And they constantly contradict themselves. It is almost like since I have a hearing loss I’m not capable of realizing these things. I only know a couple of people that wear hearing aids and they say they have perfectly clear hearing with the aids. So, I have just assumed that I will never have any better result. But I just can’t understand how if only a small minority have trouble understanding what people say that I see so many comments to contradict that statement. I have been told the nastiest things from audiologists about how I will struggle for the rest of my life and that my problem is my defective hearing and that I need a CI because I do poorly on the recorded word recognition test. I even had an audiologist refuse to treat me because I refused to buy new hearing aids from her (my hearing aids are two years old and good quality). The list is long. If voices are loud enough I understand people perfectly with my natural hearing. It is with the hearing aids I have problems. I have seen a couple of audiologist and the hearing aids are never clear. One audiologist told me that she suspects I am reacting to the high frequencies in the program. But nothing can be done about that. Do I just give up and accept that I will always live in a buzzy raspy world? Or do I just keep looking for a new audiologist? Honestly, at this point I do not have any respect for audiologists. I have not had any personal experience with them to justify any other opinion. Thanks, Sharon

    • Oh my goodness Sharon! It seems to me that you need to find a new audiologist right away. Hearing aids do not fix all hearing problems, but voices should not sound buzzy to you if they do not sound that way without your hearing aids. Perhaps your hearing aids have a short in them or are not adjusted properly. Do you have a local HLAA chapter where you could meet others with hearing loss and get their recommendations for another audiologist in your area?

      • Thank you for taking the time to answer my comment. I don’t think it is the hearing aids. Not unless the actual hearing aid design is bad. They have both been replaced for different reasons within the couple of years I have had them. I have been to a couple of different audiologist in my area. I do know someone (that says her hearing is perfectly clear with her aids) that lives in the next state from me. She highly recommends her audiologist but she is about an hour or so away from me. I have toyed with the idea of going to see her. I have been just so traumatized by this whole situation. And really have kind of given up on getting help. And really feel there is no one that wants to or can help me. It seems their first priority isn’t the patient it is selling new hearing aids. Having the hearing loss is bad enough without being treated the way I have been treated. I was told by someone (through correspondence) with a CI that finding a competent audiologist is not an easy task. I thought she was exaggerating. But I now know that she was spot on with her comment. Funny thing about the programming on the hearing aids. It appears that each audiologist adjusts hearing aids differently. That there is no set way to program them. That they are not actually taught programming when in school it is just something picked up afterwards. Everyone of them think their programming is the best. So, to say they aren’t programmed correctly might very well be true. But they are programmed correctly to what the programming audiologist calls ‘appropriate’. I am just told I have to adjust to the hearing aids. And I know that is true to a point. But there are just some things a person can’t adjust to. I am very well aware I will never have good hearing again. I was just hoping I could have the best that I am able to have. It just doesn’t seem to be the way things happen.

      • I am sorry to hear about all the trouble your are having. Maybe a visit to your friend’s audiologist would make sense or perhaps she has a recommendation for someone closer to where you live. Alternatively, ENT doctor’s offices sometimes have audiologists on staff that could be helpful. Please don’t give up. There must be a way to improve the way your hearing aids are operating.

      • Thanks, I am going to sit tight for another couple of months anyway. My hearing aids are still under warranty and I don’t want to jump around again until it runs out. They will be three years old. I don’t feel they are old enough to replace. The technology doesn’t really change much in three years. I think I will contact the audiologist that my friend recommended through email with copies of my hearing tests to see what she thinks before I waste her time and mine by going up there. When my friend lived in this area she went to an audiologist that had everything messed up with her aids. She was struggling along just like I am now. After she moved and had this new audiologist, she heard that the other audiologist had closed down their office….. But I really do think that just making due is the only way to go. Maybe in a few years there will be new aids out that might be better for me. I got my hearing aids from an audiologist attached to an ENTs office. But she played a huge guessing game with programming (it was just a tiny office without much technology) and I just couldn’t deal with it. So, that is when I started to look around a bit and found out I was going to be pretty much adrift in the sea. :-). Thank you for your help. I really appreciate it, Sharon

  3. Having “survived” the hearing world and working world for 54 years with a profound hearing loss, I highly recommend anyone with hearing loss to learn some kind of sign language as well as taking some lip reading classes. I find live captioning services , as fabulous as it is , is rarely available, and can be very expensive. I find doctors appointments to be a nightmare with hearing loss as well. I’ve resorted to bringing a family member with me to interpret, but find most doctors won’t even face you while speaking to you, they have their heads buried in a screen somewhere (love the ones that talk to you in the dark at the end of the examining table, haha). You will never find a perfect hearing aid, they all sound different and some are better than others, but a trustworthy audiologist should be willing to patiently work with you till they get it right. Google the reviews before you make the appt.

  4. I am a 22 year old who was born with a moderate-severe hearing loss. My parents thought I was just being a kid and ignoring them when they were calling my name up until the age of 5 years old, they finally decided to take me to an Audiologist to get my hearing evaluated. Turns out I had a hearing loss which lead me to getting hearing aids in junior high school. I was bullied so bad I refused to wear them at anytime. Due to not wearing them I had the hardest time up until I graduated from highschool. Until this day I am still shy about my hearing loss it takes me getting to know the person to even mention the topic. That being said I started working for a family owned hearing clinic (Kirkham Hearing) 4 months ago which has changed my perspective on acceptance entirely. It has showed me how much one’s experience can make someone else with a hearing loss that much more comfortable. Thanks to Kirkham Hearing they have helped me overcome my fear and change my everyday struggle into something I thought wasn’t possible due to my own experience. This positive outcome makes me feel passionate about helping others in the same situation because anything is possible. Thank you for changing my life Kirkham Hearing! I will never again be ashamed of having a hearing loss.

  5. I was born with hearing loss and have worn hearing aids since I was three, so coping with hearing loss was a bit different and easier for me. I really can’t say I ever was embarrassed about it. I actually embrace it. But your struggle and acceptance of hearing loss definitely resembles my journey with my vision loss. I am slowly losing my sight due to Retinitis Pigmentosa and have gone through basically the same steps you did to accept it. Thank you for sharing!

    Though I just started following your blog, I have enjoyed what you have to share and thus have nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award 🙂

  6. I loved reading your story. I think it is helpful seeing that I am not alone. While my husband, children, and co-workers can all be supportive, it is encouraging knowing that others go through these struggles too. My story has many similarities. My father had hearing aids, but rarely spoke about it. It took me a decade to fully accept and embrace my hearing aids. I have worn them for 35 years now.
    Most days I accept and don’t think about my hearing loss. There are still events and thoughtless remarks by others that cause me to feel isolated. I also try to keep a sense of humor to bring me through lows. I consider how fortunate I am because of my supportive family and friends.
    I am considering reaching out to a local Hearing association to find more support.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts in a blog.

Leave a Reply