A couple of weeks ago, I had opened the floor for people to ask me questions as I realised that a lot of people had questions they were hesitant to ask me for fear of coming across as insensitive. I figured my answers could potentially answer other unasked questions and hopefully it helps / educates someone.
Q: What does your hearing loss mean exactly? Are you deaf or hard of hearing?
A: I am hearing impaired, meaning I have severe to profound hearing loss in both ears. (bilateral hearing loss) (the scale ranks from mild < moderate < severe < profound - Source: HearIt) This also means I am partially deaf / hard of hearing. (They mean the same thing)
Q: What's the Medical support / infrastructure like in the West compared to Nigeria.
A: Fortunately for me, the medical support in the west is significantly better in the West than in Nigeria. Unfortunately, Nigeria still has a long way to go in fully understanding the audiology field and the latest technology available for people who are deaf or have hearing issues. I was undergoing medicals in the United States, when I was told about the "compressed frequencies technology" available for hearing aids (this had apparently been around for sometime) Compressed frequency means using technology to move sounds I wouldn't ordinarily hear (such as whispers, whistles or high pitched sounds) to the range of low pitched sounds (such as drums, vibrations etc) so that way I could hear them.
This was a major game changer for me. I went back to England and searched for an audiologist who could put that technology in the brand of hearing aids I was using at the time. This audiologist was experienced enough to know that what I needed was in another brand. He convinced me to try Signia (owned by Siemens). It was truly life changing. I heard sounds I had never heard before. I will explore that experience in an upcoming post. I have found the audiology field here is quite vast and technology is rapidly evolving. I'm here for it!
Q: How were you able to maintain your self esteem?
A: I've come to realise this requires mental strength, will-power and an amazing support system. I've been incredibly blessed with a loving and supportive family especially my Mum and Dad. My Mum has always made me understand that self-confidence and strength is so important. It translates to how you are treated as a person. She is an impressive boss lady and I always want to emulate her. My Dad has always pushed me to do and aim for better in every area of my life in spite of my hearing loss. Together - they are the reason I am the way I am today.
Experiences in life have also taught me that how you regard yourself is you will be regarded by others. I have amazing friends who always remind me during my down moments that I am worth everything I am and they have my back. All this made for a killer self esteem.
Q:How do you feel when you turn off your hearing aids? i.e do you feel at peace or anxious that you might be missing out on important information.
A: I always gauge the situation I am In. For example if I'm going to important meetings , appointments or at the airports (with immigration), I definitely wear my hearing aids to communicate effectively. If I'm going out with friends or running errands where I know I might have to communicate with people, I turn on my hearing aids. If I'm at home on my own, I hardly wear them. Turning off my hearing aids relieves pressure on my brain to be honest and I find it quite peaceful.
I always ensure that wherever I live I let the building managers know that I am hearing impaired, so I am contacted in case there's a real fire. There are solutions for people who are hard of hearing or deaf. If I'm living in a house I ensure I have a very loud fire alarm as I cannot hear the standard fire alarms.
Q: Do you get self conscious when you meet a new love interest and what he'd think about what your hearing. If yes, are you ever worried that it shows that you are self conscious about it.
A: I'm not self conscious about my hearing loss in a way that I am embarrassed about it. I'm self aware and try to make a bit more effort to listen as a new guy may not catch on, unless I tell him. I definitely always let the guy know if things develop and give room to ask any questions he may have. I'm aware that it could be uncomfortable for a guy to be romantically involved with someone who is hearing impaired, but i've always known that any guy who is uncomfortable with my hearing loss is certainly not someone I should even be friends with. I also watch their facial responses or how they react when I have trouble hearing what they say. It's usually very telling. I make my decision based on that. It is what it is.
So that's all for this session of my first Q and A. Hopefully you learned something!
Until next time...