We will be sharing personal stories about hearing loss from members of ALOHA and their loved ones in this blog. Every one's journey is unique, however, we all deal with similar aspects of hearing loss at some point in that journey.
It's common that when people come to ALOHA and hear another person talking about the same issues they have been going through they get a bit emotional. Hearing loss effects the social, emotional, psychological, and physical well-being of people. As time goes on, research is even linking more physical and cognitive problems to hearing loss. When you are going through this by yourself it is overwhelming. There are real benefits in finding out that you are not alone and can finally say: "It's not just me!"
Here is a story from our ALOHA Office manager, Loretta Butler about one aspect of her own experience.
Sometimes I don’t want to hear anything
Oh, yes. I have severe to profound hearing loss and I use powerful hearing aids that allow me hit-and-miss communication.
So why is it that sometimes I don’t want to hear anything at all? Perhaps it is because that is my “natural” state now. At the moment I am writing this I do not have to hear, so I removed my hearing aids. It feels natural. As one fellow — I don't remember his name — put it long ago in an article: wearing ear molds in one’s ears is like sticking grapes up your nose ... something you really don’t want to do.
Yes, but in my silent state, it is not really quiet. What is that noise? On the left there is hissing, and on the right, humming. Oh, I know it is called tinnitus and nothing to worry about ... just my brain creating a sound because of lack of hearing. Actually, if I did not hear that, I would be frightened. It’s part of my “natural” state now and I made friends with it.
But things I don’t want to hear. Hmm. I don’t want to hear the refrigerator. If I open the door and see the light go on and cold air wafts across my face, it is working. That’s all I need to know. Same with the furnace or cooler. If I feel a comfortable temperature, they are working. I don’t want to hear the mechanics.
I don’t want to hear traffic, cars, trucks, sirens. Cacophony! Or piped-in music in stores, many people talking at the same time or restaurant clatter and chatter.
As an audiologist said to me one time: Noise is defined as what you don’t want to hear.
But then, silence gets old, boring, and isolating.
Pop in the hearing aids.
I want to hear TV.
I want to hear my friend talking to me.
I want to hear my kids and grandkids.
I want to hear birds, music, all the good stuff.
So I accept that sometimes I don’t want to hear anything, and other times I want to hear a lot. The hearing aids give me a choice. Thank goodness for that!
ALOHA has a weekly Peer Support group that meets every Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., year round. Others with hearing loss attend and we share information, resources and personal experiences, in order to help one another. You may email ALOHA for info about the groups or anything else we offer at: firstname.lastname@example.org.