Today I’m going to be writing about my hearing aids. I was born with a condition called Microtia. The very basics on my end are that my mom slipped on some ice at the very early stages of her pregnancy with me and that fall caused some of my blood vessels to break while I was still forming. At least, that’s the theory the doctor’s gave her in the 80’s. Now, there’s a lot of research showing that in a vast number of cases its genetic but there’s no one cause that’s been pinned down for Microtia. It affects all walks of life, race, religion and gender.
In my case my microtia affects the right side of my body. I will say up front that during this post I’ll write about what we were told by doctors back in the 80’s abd 90’s mainly because that’s what I grew up knowing about myself and because the information I have now is too new and I’m still processing it. So my right ear is just a few “nubs” really where the cartiledge had started to form and never finished. Up until recently I was always told there was nothing on my right side, no canal, no ear drum ect so there was no point in trying to open it up or to get hearing aids for that side. We didn’t have the funds for second or third opinions and relied on what the doctors at the local clinic and shriners advised.
When I was about 2 my mom noticed that I wasn’t responding to anyone and that I was standing in front of the television with the volume up all the way so she took me to see Dr. Patton (my childhood GP and ENT) and he found that the ear canal on my left side was collapsing. So they put a tube in my ear and I had one for several years.
Anyway my hearing has always been not… terrible but not great and I’ve learned to cope with it. Children are very resilient and so adaptable. I’ve learned to lip read to a certain extent and know enough ASL to get myself into trouble without realizing it. Earlier this year every time Sam and I drove down main street I’d see the sign for the audiologist and mention that I need to make an appointment to have my hearing tested because it hasn’t been tested in the last 10 or so year. Sam being Sam took it upon himself to go in, introduce himself and tell them a bit about me and ask what the rate was ect to have my hearing tested. Long story short, Chris, the woman who owns the business and who is an amazing audiologist tested me and got me in touch with some resources and long story short, with help from the state I now have hearing aids.
I do have to say, they take some getting used to. It was weird being able to hear things at a louder volume than I’m used to and until the funds were approved, Chris gave me a loaner hearing aid so I could get used to it, it was fine but there was some static that was a bit annoying (that went away with the new hearing aid, turned out the loaner had a bad wire) and sometimes my ear feels bruised where the dome goes in and where a smaller wire sits to keep the dome in place. But I can hear, its louder, clearer and I find it easier to orientate myself to my surroundings.
I do like that it uses bluetooth technology to pair with my phone. When I learned that I was getting a hearing aid and that it paired with iPhones, Sam and I saved and I scoured the ads until I found one on sale. I can have GPS open on my phone and hear the voice in my hearing aid so I’m not trying to look at the map while driving because I can’t understand what she said. I can play music if I feel like it and not bother others around me. I can take a phone call and because its in my ear I can hear the caller.
Do I regret getting the hearing aid? No, I do know that if the state hadn’t helped I don’t think I would have made it a priority if I’m honest. Because I can hear out of my left ear its just very much like wearing ear plugs all the time, so being able to hear is amazing.
I would recommend hearing aids, if your child has mild/moderate hearing loss, there’s no point in putting them through a Cochlear implant in my opinion but a basic hearing aid can open the world for them in small ways that add up.
Did I need an iPhone specifically to go with the hearing aid? No, but it is nice to have the extra features and to be able to utilize them and get the full use out of my hearing aids.
I will say that its disappointing that the batteries only last a day or so, so you do go through batteries quickly. That’s one thing I had to learn, that its okay to wear the hearing aid and not to panic that I’m wasting money every time a battery dies.
So, hearing aids have helped open my audio world a little bit. I can hear the fullness of someone singing or an instrument or get the full message of someone speaking now. I don’t have to fill in the gaps or wonder why I can’t talk as fast as everyone else can. They weren’t talking quickly at all but I wasn’t catching all of the sounds.
If I hadn’t mentioned a hearing test, if Sam hadn’t gone in and been his wonderful charming self and if Chris wasn’t such an amazing doctor who knows how to work her connections then I wouldn’t know what I was missing. And asking for help, asking for a device to make life just a little bit better is okay. Being able to say, “I deserve to hear the birds when I go to work” is a wonderful thing to say. Going in to speak with Joy, my agent through Department of Vocational Rehab, and telling her that I need help. That I want to be productive and work but that I need my hand held just a little bit because if I can get over this boulder with her help then I can turn around and help the next person. If that means telling them about DVR or Chris or just a hug or a “well done”.
I could go on, I could talk about my experiences at school, at home and at work. I could talk about so much but its getting late here Monday night and so I’ll just leave off here and tell all of you wonderful Warriors a good night.
I will apologize and thank you if you made it this far. It was kind of a rambling post but I hope it made sense.