Yo, Santa, Listen Up!

Dear Santa,

You probably don’t remember me, but that’s OK, I’ve changed a lot since the first time I wrote to you. I was the Canadian kid with mild to moderate hearing loss but now, I’m the Canadian senior who’s deaf without my hearing devices. Maybe that rings a reindeer bell?

To start off, may I say that you are looking much trimmer around the belly these days – good job! Now, if only you had a trimmer moustache to make it easier for speechreading. But hey, I’m writing to you, not chatting with you on Zoom, so it doesn’t matter.

I have always loudly verbalized my Christmas wish-list whenever potential gift-givers were within earshot. But that never really worked out, so I’m back to writing you again.

And I’m writing on behalf of people with hearing loss – all of them, not just the Canadians. What I’m asking for may seem like a lot, but they are items that Amazon simply can’t deliver.

So here goes. This is what I want you to pack in your sleigh this year. They may sound big, but they don’t weigh anything.

  1. An ounce of sound sense. An ounce of prevention is worth way more than a pound of cure – because there IS no cure for hearing loss due to noise damage. People who hear well don’t understand what they stand to lose; they have no idea of what it would be like to live with hearing loss. People who go to clubs where the music can be a brain-bruising 115dB, are at risk of destroying their inner ear hair cells. They will be listening to Christmas bells inside their head for a long time – and chronic tinnitus is no picnic.
  2. Affordable hearing help for those who need it. Hearing aids are amazing, but not everyone can afford them. Soon, over the counter (OTC) technology options will be available in the US, but not yet. And not everywhere. This is a global problem, Santa, and you’re an international kind of guy.  I’m asking you to work your magic so that our governments, hearing health providers and people with hearing loss can together to make hearing health a priority, and accessible for all.
  3. Enable hearing care professionals to make a difference. We respect the expertise of our audiologists and hearing instrument specialists. But a lot of the help they could and should provide, such as counseling, is not covered by health or insurance programs. People with hearing loss need more than just hearing aids from their hearing care providers, who should be fairly compensated for that support.
  4. The confidence to express our communication needs. I want this one so much for my friends, Santa. I’ve been doing this hearing loss thing a long time and I’m proud of how well I live with it. But not everyone has that confidence or has been able to reject then negative stigma of hearing loss. They struggle to express what it means to have hearing loss and to have their needs met – especially with their loved ones. It’s all about communication, Santa, which is a fundamental of life right up there with food, water and air.
  5. Clear masks for everyone, including the ‘hearing’ people. So that my people can understand what other people are saying. 

I don’t know how you’re going to do all this, sir, but I believe in you.

Thanks for reading and have a blast on Christmas Eve!

With love and respect, Gael Hannan

(Just in case you forgot who I am, ere’s a picture of the grown-up me looking up at you!)

 

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.

6 Comments

  1. My HOH letter to Santa will have to wait until next year. Gael, I intend to copy everything you wrote, and add one more thing: Bring the important people in my life a portable list that delineates, in detail, how to talk to people with hearing loss.

  2. Love this! As a lifelong hearing loss gal, I too have a few wishes. Seems my hearing has deteriorated and now looking at a cochlear implant. I’ve been a Baha wearer for 10 years. I also need to purchase a hearing device for my right ear. Yes, they are quite costly. I’m praying for the best possible outcome. I’m a busy mom, grandma and soon to be great. I know we miss a lot . Compensating is the norm! May you have a Blessed Christmas and your wishes come true…..all of them!
    Thank you,
    Shirley in Nebr.❤️

  3. Gael – that is such a great letter that you sent to Santa and I sure hope that he can get the ball rolling in the right direction. You are so right about all of the issues that you brought up. Keep up all of the things that you do to spread the word about hearing loss and what some of us can do for ourselves and/or where to look for the things we cannot do for ourselves. A lot of work has been done but there are still a few spaces that need more attention brought to the forefront. Merry Christmas to you and yours. Hopefully next year will be a better one for reinstating some of the programs we had in our City for the Hard of Hearing as soon as covid will let them begin again. .

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