After years of struggle I feel like I finally have some answers and help with my hearing and it is such a relief.
The day after I got my first hearing aid I shared on Messy Mom just how much of an adjustment it was.
Honestly, at first I wasn’t sure they were going to work for me at all. I wanted it to be a solution, but I couldn’t tell whether or not I was benefitting from wearing the hearing aids. They worked in the sense that things were louder, but EVERYTHING was louder. Even my mouth chewing was loud. So if I was at a restaurant eating it was still very difficult for me to understand anybody. However I tried to trust the experts including my audiologist who told me that those that really wear them all the time rather than just sporadically are the ones that are going to benefit the most. They say it takes anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months of practice and commitment to see the positive results.
I was genuinely committed for two reasons. First because I wanted to hear! Also because I want to be an example to my daughters who also have hearing loss and need to wear hearing devices. It’s been hard though. Way harder than I thought. Even with my determination I struggled to really get into the habit of wearing them. It’s like learning a new language or training for an athletic event. Sometimes life gets in the way. Whether it’s self inflicted by lack of motivation or emergencies that you can’t control. It’s hard to keep at it.
It was almost 12 weeks before I really felt comfortable with them. There are still times I mishear people, and even with hearing aids my ears don’t hear as well as a person that has normal hearing. It’s much better though. One day at church my mom said something in my left ear and I understood her. This is significant because my mom is always talking in church (sorry to tattle mom) and she is usually sitting on my left and I can’t hear anything she says. I am no longer turning my head so that I can hear with my “good ear” and when I forget to put them in or when I take them off at night I notice that I miss a lot.
The hearing aids aren’t perfect, but I can now say with certainty that they make a huge difference. However, the important part of my story is that it wasn’t like that at first! So if you ever end up needing hearing aids or know someone who does, take it from me, you will probably hate them at first. Everything will be loud (read my example of the first day) and even after several months it still won’t be the same as having your natural hearing, but your brain adjusts. It’s pretty incredible. I am so grateful that I have had this experience so that I can help others that are in that situation and I can relate more to my daughters and their friends with hearing loss.
One other big update about my hearing is that I have an answer to the question of why it seems like my hearing started going downhill in my early 20’s. I know for sure when it happened because I even went to the ENT to have it checked out. Then I did again when I turned 30 and again at 33.
It’s been a long road looking for answers, but eventually I talked with Elle and SJ’s ENT who is truly one of the top pediatric otolaryngologists in the nation and I am not just saying that. He has seen our genetic tests and heard our story so I asked him why my hearing has worsened over time and if that would happen with Elle.
He said the reason is because we all have thousands of hair cells that get damaged or deteriorate over time and that’s why the elderly usually can’t hear so well. The difference between myself and other people is that most people have a cushion so when they damage those hair cells it’s not a big deal until they are older. For me I already start out with a disadvantage so what I have experienced is basically a premature age related hearing loss. It doesn’t change anything, but it made sense and was good to have an answer.
As far as SJ everything with her cochlear implants is fine and dandy. She’s in 1st grade at Ohio Valley Voices and still has a lot of catching up to do, but is doing great.
Elle doesn’t have any hearing aids yet, but probably will soon. She has regular therapy sessions with early intervention specialists. Her speech is a little delayed. She’s only 10 months old tomorrow. So it’s not that she should be talking, but she should be able to babble and right now the only sound she makes is Ahhhhh. No one is concerned though, they predict she is going to be rocking and rolling without any issues at all.
That’s the latest with us girls and our hearing loss. I will keep everyone posted when I have anymore updates.