The Easy Lessons of Hearing Loss

the earIt’s EASY to convince ourselves that we’re doing ‘fine’ with our hearing loss:

That we’re catching most of what’s said,
Well, at least the important stuff – the rest’s not really worth listening to
And no, we don’t intend to do anything about it
Like getting a hearing aid or cochlear implant –
Those are for other people, who have real problems.

 

It’s EASY to give in to frustration and the emotional roller coaster of hearing loss:

Because nothing has ever prepared us for this –
This…invisible separation…from the life we’re used to,
And the people we were close to.
It’s like standing outside, looking through a window
Rapping on the glass and trying to talk to our family on the inside.
It hurts.

 

It’s EASY to slip into bad habits of bluffing, of tuning out:

Because we just can’t get what’s being said,
Even though we’re trying so hard to follow.
It makes us tired
And before we even realize it,
We’re nodding and smiling as if we’re totally in the conversation
And we hope no one calls us on it.
Because we would be embarrassed – and they would be irritated.

 

It’s EASY to blame other people for communication breakdowns:

“They won’t face me,
They forget all the time,
They just…they just don’t understand.
Even though I’ve explained it
Over and over again.
I’ve done all I can and now it’s up to them.
Hell, I’m the one with the damn hearing loss!
How about a little consideration?”

 

It’s EASY to blame our hearing loss for everything that’s not going right:

“My marriage would be better if it wasn’t for my hearing
My kids wouldn’t laugh or take advantage of me
I would be happier at work,
I’d feel better about myself
And I could focus my energy on making things better
Instead of using it all up
On trying to communicate,
Or even hiding it completely
And don’t tell me that’s wrong, that I shouldn’t do it –
I’d like to see you struggling every day, all day,
With hearing loss like mine.”

 

It’s EASY to let hearing loss define us:

Life was better before.
Now it’s not.
My hearing loss affects everything,
Everything I do, everyone I talk to.
I am my hearing loss.

 

No one ever said that having hearing loss is easy. But it doesn’t have to be this hard, either.

We – all of us – have bad hearing days when we want to crawl into bed, pull the covers over our head, and cry in frustration over the relentless pummeling of communication gone wrong. But if we stay in hiding, if we keep crying, our negative attitudes  harden into cement, from which it’s almost impossible to break free.

There’s another easy lesson if we want to take it.  Help is available, standing by, waiting.

If you – or anyone you know – is struggling with hearing loss, reach out for help. Speak to your doctor or visit a hearing care professional. Contact a hearing loss group in your community, or online, where there are people with hearing loss who understand what you’re going through. They will help, because they’ve been there.

Reach out. It’s the easiest lesson of hearing loss.

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

8 Comments

  1. Just came across this post and I really like it. I work with a hearing aid company and deal with some patients who really struggle with their hearing loss. It’s great to know that I can help with a solution to bring someone’s life back. Hearing is such a crucial part of our lives. I’d like to use this article on my website, http://www.hustonhearing.com. Thanks again for writing.

  2. Another great piece Gael. We can talk about different aspects of the HLAA mission, but the reaching out and reaching up to take the hand offered by someone who has traveled this road before, is still the key to living well with hearing loss! Self help through peer support is the first and hardest step.

  3. Fantastic reading for people with hearing loss and their hearing friends and families. Thanks Gael for your excellent article about the invisible disability of hearing loss.

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