Gulp! First Visit to a New Audiologist

Today, I met with a new audiologist for the first time.  Well, she’s not a new audiologist…she’s been practicing for a while.  But she was new to me, and as I took the ferry to Vancouver from Victoria, I was nervous because there was a lot riding on this visit. 

“Breaking in” a new hearing health professional can be as stressful as switching hairdressers. You wonder, what if she’s not really that good, what if I can’t properly explain what I need (want), what if this is just a job to her and she really doesn’t care if I never come back.

Your expectations are high and rightfully so. You want to look good – and you want to hear well. After a visit to a less-than-stellar hairdresser, you remind yourself, after you stop crying, that the buzz cut and crooked bangs will grow out in a week and you can try your luck elsewhere. But it’s not so easy to jump from audie to audie. Unlike dropping a hairdresser at a bad clip of the scissors, I can’t try out a hearing professional every few months because I don’t buy new hearing aids that often. I usually switch providers only when one of us moves away. Or, as has happened twice in the last 10 years, when my audiologist selfishly decides to have a child and takes a full maternity leave. While I’ve never been to a truly inadequate audiologist, I have had to train a couple of mumblers who skipped the university lecture on the importance of client eye contact. Just as with certain people, you ‘click’ with certain professionals and communication is better. You respect their expertise and they respect your wisdom about your hearing loss or tinnitus.

But now I’ve moved across the country and while there are many talented audiologists in my area, I need someone who has a unique skill set; I have a cochlear implant (CI, for short) and both tinnitus and hyperacusis (hell, for short). And lucky for me, there’s an audie who specializes in both ‘issues’, working in Vancouver which is just a ferry ride away. (When you live on an island, everything’s a ferry ride away.)

This audie and I are at the very beginning of our client-professional relationship, and it was a great start. 

She knew her stuff.

She was patient.

She spent three hours with me.

She asked me questions.

She listened to my answers. 

She spoke clearly, facing me.

She said, “Hmm, you’re right. Your tinnicusis (my word) is complicated.” (How different from the ENT who wasn’t interested in my description of how even my cat jumping on the bed could cause a hyperacusis flare-up.)

She is referring me to other specialists; a physiotherapist trained in temporomandibular joint disorders and someone who teaches mindfulness meditation.

She made adjustments to my CI settings saying, let’s go back a few steps and work our way forward again.

She said let’s work on ways to decrease the stress that’s making this worse.

She gave me hope that this can get better.

So, as I write this after a long day of travel and hearing testing, I’m sipping a glass of rosé and feeling hopeful. Because having options and a good hearing care professional is exactly what someone like me – with a hearing aid and a CI and tinnicusis – needs.

Like I said, it was a great start.

 

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.

4 Comments

  1. Gael, this sounds promising! I admire her decision to take you back a step or two. So sorry to miss the Cranky Cochlea at HLAA. But you’ll be back I hope.

  2. I’m very glad for you that this first Audiologist meeting turned out so well! Indeed, it is important to be able to trust your audiologist and to find the right one is not easy. I hope you will adjust in time, with experienced help of the audiologist. Sending best wishes.

  3. Hi Gael, it sounds as though you have found an experienced and empathetic new Audi. Do hope that the plan helps you feel better and hear better. You have overcome so much adversity and maintained your sense of humour but sometimes it all seems too difficult to bear! Take care and give yourself time to adjust we know every new device or change to our hearing takes time and patience to adapt to. The meditation is a wonderful idea. Best wishes

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