Every hearing loss is unique. Each like a snowflake with its own nuances and sharp edges. Its own beauty and challenges. Some of us hear high frequencies better, while others detect only low sounds. Certain of us lipread or use sign language, but not all of us do. We all have different tolerances, lifestyles, and capacities. And varying degrees of residual hearing. This diversity makes hearing loss difficult to explain, and very hard for people without hearing loss to understand.
Adding complexity, each hearing situation is also unlike many others. Some places have lots of background noise, while others are quiet. Certain speakers enunciate and project their voices, but many mumble or cover their mouth with their hands. Distractions like the A/C running or the sirens of a passing fire truck add to the mix. This can make it necessary to utilize different hearing solutions in each situation. Another thing that can baffle the uninitiated who expect hearing aids alone to work well in all settings.
My hearing loss is atypical. I hear high pitches almost perfectly, but sounds in the speech range frequencies give me trouble. This helps me detect many important sounds on the speech banana, like the consonants “s, th, and f,” but I miss critical vowel sounds like “a, o and u.” Given my loss, I usually hear women and children better than I understand male voices. My audiologist calls this a reverse slope hearing loss, which she tell me is harder to treat than the more common pattern of higher pitch losses.
Each of my hearing loss friends has unique challenges as well. One cannot hear out of her left ear at all, while another hears constant noise (tinnitus) in one ear. Some of us have hearing losses that are moderate, or even mild, while others suffer with severe or profound losses. One can lipread almost anyone, while another struggles.
We are all coping with different shades of the same problem, but our community brings us together as one. Like individual snowflakes when they fall to earth as snow.
Your hearing loss is unique. And so is mine. There are no shortcuts. No one size fits all solutions. Each person’s hearing loss is distinct, yet we are all made stronger when acting as part of the larger hearing loss community, sharing tips and support. Thank you for being a part of this one.
Readers, what makes your hearing loss unique?
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