I arrived at my MRI appointment, my mind racing with fear. It wasn’t enough that I needed to worry about my health, but because of my hearing loss, I had to worry about how my health care was delivered as well.
Where would I securely store my hearing aids when I wasn’t wearing them?
How would I communicate with the technician when my hearing aids were out?
How would I protect my hearing in this loud environment?
Lucky for me, an unexpected hearing loss friend helped ease my experience. If only all healthcare workers were trained to have the same empathy and communication skills!
An Unexpected Hearing Loss Friend Eased my Journey
MRIs are loud and because they use magnets, all metal must be removed. The nurse handed me a gown and showed me to a changing room where I was to leave everything in a secure locker—including my hearing aids! I let the nurse know that I would not be able to communicate well with her or with the technician once my hearing aids were removed. She was sympathetic, but didn’t have much to say other than, “Wait here.”
But then a pleasant surprise.
The technician arrived and when I explained my situation, she immediately faced me and spoke very clearly so that I could speechread much of what she was saying. I complemented her on her terrific communication skills and that’s when she told me about her young daughter who had hearing loss.
She had recently been implanted with a cochlear implant and the family was still adjusting. Things were going well, but they had much work to do to educate the teachers and staff at her elementary school about hearing loss. We compared notes and were able to have a bit of a conversation—even with my devices out.
Once in the MRI room, it was incredibly loud. The technician placed headphones on my head to protect my ears from the noise and wore her own pair too. She lowered her mask again to provide instructions. She was kind, patient, empathetic and an excellent and effective communicator!
Why? Because she understood the challenges her daughter faced and how to meet them. More education is needed so others can understand too. Knowledge leads to empathy, which is a sure fire way to improve care.
Readers, do you have trouble at medical appointments because of your hearing loss?