Most everyone who knows me in person knows that I've had some hearing loss all of my life. It was in the mild-to-moderate range most of the time. I learned to adapt, and became quite the lip reader without even realizing it.
Over time, as with most body parts, my ears got worse and finally, after Brad asked for the 1,000th time, I made an appointment with audiology. He was sad last summer while we were on vacation and I couldn't hear the loons from our cabin. And that made me sad.
I'm not sure why I waited. I certainly knew I was missing out. There were things I didn't do (or did not enjoy doing) and places I did not go because I knew I'd have trouble hearing.
I kept my appointment and met with an awesome audio-tech named Marlene. Marlene became the bridge between my old life and my new life. She performed all kinds of testing, sent me to the audiologist, then brought me back and walked through everything with me. The kind of loss I have isn't a straight line, profound loss. It's a crazy graph. I can hear some things just fine, and other things not at all. I can't hear much directly behind me. This kind of loss would limit the types of hearing aid available to me, but could make me eligible for cochlear implants at some point in the next few years.
So we tried out the first aids and it was crazy. Suddenly, I could hear freaking everything. EVERYTHING. We walked out into the lobby of the medical center so she could gauge how I was doing with them. Who knew people shuffle their feet so much? Does every door slam so loudly? Must people laugh at the top of their lungs? Funny story >>> we were near the front desk and she had me with my back to that area to determine if I could clearly hear the people speaking. I could then I told her we should leave before we had a HIPAA violation. She started laughing and asked "Who says that? You work in insurance?" <<< compliance people can be funny :)
We tested another type, went on another lobby field trip (with no HIPAA violations) and that was it. I found the ones I liked best. She measured my ears, had me choose a color, and I ordered them (they are not inexpensive, but there are different price ranges and plans and whatever people might need to get there).
When I picked them up, she advised me to wear them all the time right away and that while it would be overwhelming, I needed to get used to them. So I followed her instructions and wore them in the car on the 15 minute drive back to work. My head nearly exploded from the noise, but I kept them in. Who knew how loud the road was???
The first days were literally exhausting and overwhelming. I was learning to hear all over again and everything sounded so loud and almost artificial. Marlene and I met two weeks later to touch base and for her to make a few adjustments so things would sound more "normal".
While it might not have seemed like a big deal to anyone else, it's been huge for me. I realized how stressed I was at work in some meetings and when I interacted with some people. Now, I don't even think about it and I'm no longer stressed about whether I'll get everything. I wear them outside and am amazed at how many varieties of birds we have here. I wear them in church and can hear everyone who speaks from any spot in the sanctuary. They really gave me my life back.
I've been pondering what held me back. Not really vanity - I don't care who can see them. Cost to some extent, but we managed and I am forever grateful to my husband for helping me. I don't know. I do wish I had done this sooner, though. I missed so much.
If you're contemplating making a life-altering change - I say to you - do it. It just might make all the difference.