"you’re too young to be deaf"

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“You’re too young to be deaf”. I don’t hear that any more so I guess I am now suitably old and decrepit. It wasn’t until I was 40 that I managed to persuade a GP that I had a hearing loss. Her comment when I asked for a referral for to ENT was “How do you know you are deaf?” Well, I never knew that mosquitoes made a noise for one thing. In my mid 20s I persuaded RNID to test my hearing. They said I had perfectly normal hearing for a 50 year old. Well that didnt mean much, after all the word normal was in there and 50 year olds seemed to manage ok. Anyway, back to being 40. Hearing tested, ENT consultant seen and mild to severe SNHL diagnosed with a prescription for bilateral hearing aids. He said that I would have had some loss since teenage years and he was surprised that I had managed to get any secondary education at all.

So, hearing aids were fitted. They didn’t really work very well, clunky analogues that amplified all the sound equally. I had a series of duff hearing aids. Then I managed to get some non NHS ones. They were great for a few years, and I now have some new aids that are good. They don’t give me full hearing, no hearing aids can ever do this. Its not the same as being short sighted, putting on a pair of specs and all is revealed. Hearing aids can only do so much, the amplification often comes with distortion and loud noises are painful. Usually when I get home I take them out, resisting the urge to throw them across the room.

Over the past 5 years my hearing has got to the stage when it’s hard to cope, very hard. It changes the way you interact with people, how you behave, acquire information, have fun, alters your confidence, affects your health. On the other hand most hard of hearing people that I know are better at observing body language and subtext. This comes from having to notice the whole situation rather than just listening to the words.

So, now I am being assessed for suitability for a cochlear implant. I have appointments for CT scan, ENG tests and medical assessment. What made me realise just how deaf I am was when I scored 38% understanding without being able to lipread, and with my aids in.

I hope I “pass” all the tests. I’m also rather apprehensive about losing my residual hearing on one side, not to mention someone drilling a hole in my head. Maybe it will let the demons out.

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