“Dear valued patient,” the letter began, “it is with some regret that I will be retiring from private practice.” My audiologist was selling her business. I put aside the letter with a heavy sigh. Why did I feel like I had suddenly lost my anchor and the hearing loss seas were getting rough? It was time to find a new audiologist.
I struggle to fully explain my hearing loss to my family. How I hear some things, but miss others. Why I can understand them in certain environments, but not other places. How my hearing aids don’t work like glasses? Why I am exhausted at the end of the day from the extra concentration required of me each day simply to communicate. I have been searching for a way to illustrate my hearing loss to my family and friends for years. Perhaps Wonderstruck is it.
It’s that time of year again — Hearing Loss Association of America’s (HLAA) annual Walk4Hearing in New York City! This will be my third year walking. Like last year, my family and I will also be Walk volunteers, arriving early to help set up and to man the registration tables. It is a great way to get the whole family involved.
Walk4Hearing is one of my favorite advocacy events of the year. To find or support a walk near you, click here.
Walking home yesterday, I almost stepped on a hearing aid. It was lying in the center of the sidewalk, deserted. I zigged quickly to avoid flattening it with my heel and stopped dead in my tracks. My heart sank, crushed for the person who would soon find his lifeline missing. I imagined the panic and chagrin when he noticed it was gone, the self loathing for losing something so important, and the despair at having to find the funds for a new one. Hearing aids are incredibly expensive. I was as devastated as if it was my own hearing aid that had been lost.
A few weeks ago I attended HLAA’s annual convention. It is always a treat. Several days of hearing accessible workshops, learning about new products available for people with hearing loss in the exhibition hall, and just plain fun, hanging out with my hearing loss friends. It is a great mix of people — some with more severe hearing issues, some with less, but each has something to teach me in terms of coping skills and tricks of the trade. And simply friendship. I can’t wait for next year.