Cover your Ears

We take for granted what works well and is automatic about our bodies.

However, when our bodies are struck down by dis-ease or hit by trauma, sometimes the luxury of our functions are affected.  It's human nature to never really consider that something you can do with your eyes closed - for want of a better phrase- might not always exist.  

Last week I was given the news that I have suffered a hearing loss and will have to wear a hearing aid.

Oh god, the shock.

I'd noticed that my hearing is not as it used to be and in my eyes it has steadily deteriorated.  I suspected my right ear wasn't as great as it should be.  Recently, my mum told me that she went for a hearing test, and it planted the seed that I should do the same.  That and me constantly asking people to repeat themselves was enough for me to book the test.

On a random one I called Specsavers to book an appointment and got one the same day.  They gave me a hearing screening which is a basic hearing test.  I explained that I thought my right ear was dodgy.  The test starts with my left ear and I'm casually touching the screen whenever I hear the sounds.  The other ear follows and all I can think is 'I hope it isn't too bad'.  I just had this feeling in the back of my mind it was going to be bad news.  I put it down to negative thinking caused by anxiety.

The results are instant and as the lady shows them to me, she tells me that my hearing is 'outside the normal remit'.  I stare at her blankly and ask her to explain.  She tells me I have a hearing loss in my LEFT ear, and I will need to return for a more detailed test.  I'm looking at her like 'whaaaat?!  Mum's life I thought I got top marks on that ear, so i'm sitting there like 'rahhh! What did I miss??  Cause I legit thought I heard everything.  Wow.

I get a brief summary of the results and how my hearing loss manifests itself, and it makes total sense to me.  I immediately realise I am a classic case of someone who cannot hear properly; I have my TV turned way up, I cannot hear someone shouting from another room, I struggle to hear one person talking to me amongst others or in a noisy area, and I use subtitles to watch TV because I miss things and cannot keep up with whats going on.

I go home feeling...I don't know...disappointed, maybe?  I am hoping that the second test won't show such drastic testing on a wider ranger of decibels will spread my results out so the loss isn't so apparent.  Do you get what I mean?

I go for the second test the following day.  I am asked all sorts of questions about trauma, head injuries and my hearing history.  I suffered a trauma a few years ago and noticed my hearing started to fade around the same time.  The audiologist examines my ears and declares she cannot she cannot carry out the test because my left ear drum is covered by wax.  Great.  My options are to get the wax removed on the NHS, after most likely a long wait, or have her do it the next day for 35 squid.  I choose the latter because I just want this sorted out.  There is a chance my hearing could improve after the procedure.

Cue more waiting...

The following day (again), the wax from my ear is removed with a small vacuum type machine which feels odd and makes a whooshing sound.  I finally go for my second test.  Sitting in a cubicle that resembles those standing cages they have in American jails where they place inmates for short periods of time, I put the headphones on and concentrate on the sounds.

Upon finishing the test the audiologist sits opposite me and delivers the news that I indeed have a hearing loss in my left ear.  Not only that but the damage is caused by dead nerves.  Some of the nerves sending signals to my brain have been damaged, and the only remedy is a hearing aid.  I'm just in shock.  My first thought is 'I'm too young for this.  Hearing impairments only happen from birth or to old people.'  I mean, I knew my ear was dodgy but to be formally told just doesn't compare to suspecting it.  I feel unlucky in that very moment.

My friends tell me that its only a partial loss not a full loss so I should think positive, but that doesn't really comfort me.  I am aware its not a full loss but its still a loss nonetheless.  And a loss I never expected.  In all honesty, I felt wretched.  I felt sad.  Something is missing from me that I cannot retrieve.  

It's been a couple weeks since I found out, and whilst I'm coming round to the idea of wearing a hearing aid, it still hasn't sunk in yet.  I'm angry that this has happened to me, at the same time I realise anger is pointless.  The rage will pass I'm sure of it.  I think a pink hearing aid will help me feel better about it all to be honest.  

Something that was once invisible about me will now be visible to the world, and make a bold statement.  What will wearing a hearing aid say about me?  How will I feel being 'labelled' with a hearing impairment?  What if they only have dead hearing aid colours to choose from on the NHS?
Who knows.

I am not ashamed, but I am apprehensive about being judged before I introduce myself, just because I'm wearing a hearing aid.

My message to you is to go and get your hearing checked.  Both of the tests I had at Specsavers were FREE.  You have nothing to lose by having a test.  May as well get it done for the hell of it.  Because its F-R-E-E.

Oh yeah, I got my eyes tested at the same time and I have to wear reading glasses again.  *eye roll*

My life innit. Sigh.

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