My Hearing Aids and I (Part 3)
Updated: Nov 16, 2020
(This a continuation from my last post - My hearing aids and I - part 2 which you can read here )
I then called my audiologist, to order the hearing aids I originally wanted, the Signia hearing aids with the increased hearing levels, was too much for me to handle. He agreed, and asked me to come in for an appointment.
The appointment was to fit me with the original hearing aids I wanted. I remember feeling a sense of relief, on my way to the appointment and a bit sad, that maybe my brain just couldn't cope with a higher level of hearing and it was too late to adjust. (How I underestimated it).
I got to the appointment wherr Dr Ben fitted me with the Oticon hearing aids I originally asked for and sits down and says "all done" and looks to me for my reaction.
I am looking at him, like, what do you mean "all done", you haven't turned on the hearing aids. I was expecting him to switch them and start the configurations.
I have what i'm sure is a very confused look on my face and I say to him "I can't hear anything much more than my usual" (without hearing aids). I paused, and realised that they were actually on, but were incredibly low and sounds are quite muted, like the battery was running out.
I then ask Dr Ben "could you turn up the hearing power?" He goes, "that's as powerful as they can go" I was so confused.
He then explains that, because my brain (whom I so woefully underestimated) had adjusted to the higher power of the Signia hearing aids (despite the nausea and headaches, which admittedly was subsiding). The Oticon ones I originally requested for could not match the power, especially with the compressed frequency technology in the Signia.
Honestly I was stunned and decided right there and then to keep the Signia, push through the pain and hope for the best.
We however, did some reconfigurations that would enable me cope with the new hearing levels. He advised that I pace myself (which was what my friend who was an audiologist had advised) and gradually increase my hearing aids usage, my brain and body would adjust (which they did, quite beautifully)
This taught me a very valuable lesson about the power of the human body, my ears and my brain. I had definitely underestimated them.
Life went on, I got used to the hearing aids without having headaches and experiencing nausea and began to use them in all circumstances. Major win!
Sidebar: I would like to tell you a bit, about how I overcame my personal aversion to wearing hearing aids. It was not a single event or in a single moment. It was something that gradually happened. I eventually got to the point where I started to realize the benefits and the positive impacts it had on the quality of my life. It far outweighed whatever sense of normalcy I had hoped to achieve by not wearing them. I had to accept the fact I am hearing impaired and that is VERY okay.
I also realized that it was not just about me. I needed to wear them for my family, friends, co-workers, and the people I came across, in my everyday life. It was easier for everyone (myself included) when I heard them the first time. It made communicating with individuals much easier and reduced the frequency at which I asked for accommodations.
I could now hear it (almost) all. Fire alarms, birds singing (that can be incredibly beautiful), rivers, the rustle of leaves in the fall, the washing machine, the microwave beep when it had finished warming my food. I heard the little inconsequential sounds that made up the beauty of life, sounds that individuals with full hearing capacity would have taken for granted.
The very important sound I could and needed to hear, you would be surprised to know, is hearing ambulance and police sirens. Around the time that I got the Signia, I started to drive in London. We all know how important it is, for cars to stop, when emergency vehicles are in transit. Because I could now hear the sirens, even before seeing the flashing lights, it was one less hassle and one less potential accident for me.
Time went on, I adjusted beautifully and used the Signia well. I lost them a couple of times (that was NOT funny at all) but we had a great relationship.
Then I moved to Canada and then the game changed on me. Again.
When I moved to Canada, I switched careers. I moved from an operational / finance role to a project management role that needed to me to interact with multiple people at once, have several meetings in a day, and take meeting notes / action items (which I absolutely did not like). I was faced with all of this, with the challenge of a new accent. Which was very difficult at the time.
I had to speak with my director at the time and get the accessibility department involved. It was overwhelming and I did not work with the most patient stakeholders. It felt like my brain was slowing down and really affected my confidence at the time.
I then realized, I needed to increase the power of my hearing aids, but unfortunately, the Signia could not cut it anymore as I had maxed out on the power. (I had been to the audiologist a couple of times over the years, to increase its hearing power) At this point, I was hoping there was another level of technological advancement, that would help me hear better, and this would mean a new purchase.
I met with a new Doctor, Tommy, a renowned audiologist with the Canadian Hearing Society. He said to me, that I would have to switch from CIC to Behind the Ear hearing aids to get the power I needed. I had maxed out on any power I could get from the CIC range.
(Remember I had explained the different types of hearing aids in the first part of these series) see below:
He advised that I would have to change my hearing aid type from the "Completely-in-the-canal" to either "In the Ear" (which would be VERY obvious, which I definitely did NOT want, because it would look like I had a lump of play dough stuck in my ear) or "Behind the Ear" (which I reasoned was basically an announcement to everyone that I was hearing impaired because of how big they had previously looked)
His rationale for recommending the switch was that, due to the "real estate" (for lack of a better phrase) of the other hearing aids, I would have a lot more space to include the technology I needed to give me a significantly wider range and higher hearing power than my Signia.
For some reason my mind just could not accept it. At the time, it felt like an impossible choice. Rationally, it made sense. However, I just could not bring myself to accept it. The hearing aids were a significant expense, and it was not an expense I was ready to make, without me being honest with myself about whether I was going to actually wear them.
When I first signed up to the Canadian Hearing Society, I was offered a number of services I could take leverage. One of them was counselling / therapy for people who had hearing loss.
I realized, this was something I needed to take advantage of. Counselling was something I knew I needed to do, with hearing loss being a huge reason for the longest time. It looked like it was time to get to it.
I was matched with an amazing counsellor and then the work started. I met with Tommy in October. It took me three months to decide to go ahead and start counselling. I figured it would be a couple of weeks tops and I'd be back to see Tommy about my hearing aid decision.. Little did I know how much work was ahead of me...
(To be concluded next week)