My Latest Hearing Loss Drop Left Me Gutted

All the signs were there. Television dialogue was fuzzy and unclear. My family seemed to be mumbling more than usual so conversation took more work. My tinnitus had revved back up. I reached the end of each day tired and mentally spent.

I should have been prepared. But when the audiologist told me that my hearing had worsened, I was still surprised.

Devastated.

Gutted.

A drop in hearing is never easy to accept.

Take Time to Mourn Your Hearing Loss…

I usually get my hearing tested annually, but due to the pandemic, it had been about two years. Often my audiologist will describe any dip in my audiogram as the testing margin of error, but with two years of declines under my belt, this could not explain the difference.

A new flatter pattern was now evident. My high pitch hearing, which had always been mild, showed the sharpest dip. Noise exposure or more likely, age-related hearing loss was layering on top of my genetic hearing loss.

I inherited my hearing loss from my father so I knew what was to come. Later in life, his audiogram showed a marked deterioration in his high-pitched hearing. Was my recent dip the beginning of this new pattern? Since many important speech sounds — f, s, and th — are in these higher frequencies, I worried my word discrimination might dip too.

…But We Can’t Mourn Forever

No hearing loss journey is a straight line forward — onward and upward to better communication. It’s often a series of plateaus, between which adjustments and change are needed. Just like when the pandemic threw a curveball into my hearing loss life, this new dip required making some refinements.

My audiologist tweaked my hearing aid settings and the work to train my brain for the onslaught of new sounds began — tuning out extra background noise and tuning into the speech sounds I wanted to hear. This process can be incredibly frustrating — it may even feel like learning to hear all over again — but it is a necessary and important part of creating better communication.

Adjusting to a Hearing Drop Takes Time

No matter how many times my hearing shifts, the feelings of loss are just as raw. Rationally I know I will get through this dip, as I have other ones, but part of me always wonders if this will be the time I cannot recover. I not only feel sad and betrayed — why don’t my ears work the way I want them to? — but fearful. What if the next drop is even worse?

These feelings are natural. We must give ourselves time to rant and cry and despair before picking ourselves up and beginning to heal. The journey continues.

Readers, how do you mourn a new dip in your hearing?

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26 thoughts on “My Latest Hearing Loss Drop Left Me Gutted

  1. Katherine Bouton – New York – Katherine Bouton is the author of "Smart Hearing: Strategies, Skills and Resources for Living Better with Hearing Loss." (2018) available at Amazon.com in paperback or ebook. It updates and amplifies the now-out-of-print "Living Better with Hearing Loss." Her first book, "Shouting Won't Help," tells the story of her hearing loss and her bumpy and sometimes hilarious journey to acceptance. She is a former editor at and contributor to The New York Times. She served for seven years as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Hearing Loss Association of America. She is immediate past President of the New York City Chapter of HLAA. Her blog can be found at katherinebouton.com. She has had idiopathic progressive bilateral hearing loss since she was 30.
    Katherine Bouton says:

    Thanks for writing this, Shari. Many of us have been there, and we know it’s hard. You’ve got a strong spirit and access to good hearing-health care, as well as the education and support from HLAA that will help you adjust to this new reality.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thanks for your support Katherine!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      So sorry to hear that. We will get through it. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. It is so much harder to lose more of what you have already lost. So many things seem to happen this way. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for and you have support from all of us. Take comfort in knowing you are not alone and have many who can relate and sympathize.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for your kind words. We are all in this together.

  3. Shari, I am very glad that you wrote about this. At my last hearing exam I found out that my hearing had not deteriorated but my word recognition had! I was devastated. I am hoping to get new hearing aids that feature “clarity” but am probably fooling myself about how much help they will be. Yet I carry on.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Exactly. The journey continues. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Good luck to you!

  4. Thank you for this post. It reinforces that we are on this road together with its bumps and obstacles as well as its smooth patches and unexpected silver linings. As my annual hearing test approaches, I realize that I have been fradually increasing the TV volume, relying more and more on captions, mishearing more words. I remind myself that technology gets better and better.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      So true. I hope your annual check-in goes well. We are all in this together. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  5. When hearing aids only helped speech recognition 16% I knew it was time to consider a cochlear implant. I have one 14 months now from Med-El and it is truly amazing ! A medical miracle!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      I am so happy for you! Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thanks for you support. Let’s do it! 😉

  6. Shari, I am sorry you are experiencing this. I went through this about 35 years ago in my right ear and 24 years ago in my left ear. And I was wearing hearing aids at the time. I know exactly what you are going through. However, I now have cochlear implants which do the job so much better than hearing aids did! I have had the cochlear implant in y left ear since June 2007 and in my right ear since October/November 2009.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for your support. So glad the CIs are working for you!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for your concern. It is so nice to feel all the support.

  7. Hi Shari, So sorry to hear that your high frequency thresholds have dipped further. Fingers crossed that any further deterioration is slow. It is so important that you have written about this and your reaction to the disappointing news. Getting people to admit to and address their hearing loss is often very difficult. Letting them know that it is OK to admit and grieve that loss is such an important step. I hate the fact that I need hearing aids but am so grateful for the modern technology that allows me to hear so much better with them than without them. I know that you know you are not alone but nevertheless our journeys are all very individual. One size does not fit all. All the very best to you.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for your wise and kind words.

  8. This has happened to me recently as well. My audiologist is suggesting CI. I am curious as to why you have not sought a CI Perhaps you have addressed this and I am not aware.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Even with the drop, I am not a candidate for a CI at this point, but thank you for your question.

  9. Hi Shari,
    I know the feeling, I went for my annual hearing test in June, and I too had a drop in my hearing. My Audiologist want me to go for an evaluation for an Cochlear Implant. I was devastated, I am scared to go & been looking into at the pro & cons, not sure I can afford to take the time off from work for the recovery process. I may go in a few months, but right now I am not ready. Keep your head and hearing up and do the best we can do!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      You too! Thank you for your support.

  10. I think there is a time to mourn and than time to accept. You are right others with same issues understand much better than most.I have lost another 10decibels in left ear and fear I may be like my grandmother who was almost deaf by the time she was 75.Maybe my fears are legitimate. Does insurance cover cochlear implants? Thank you for your article.We know your pain.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Well said. Thank you for your support.

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