If you’re wearing hearing aids right now, you know that getting used to them is not as easy as wearing glasses. It’s not like we pop them into our ears, turn up the volume and voilà: done.
When I purchased my first pair of hearing aids, I was not prepared for what was coming. I naively thought that these new devices would completely restore my hearing. I even thought that, if I got those tiny ones I saw online, the CIC type (Completely-In-the-Canal), nobody would notice them. It took me a while to accept the fact that I needed help with my hearing loss, but eventually, my hearing limitations were about to disappear, right?
I remember the shock when I left the clinic with my hearing aids on for the first time: the road was so LOUD! It was so crazy that I ran back inside and told the audiologist that something was terribly wrong with my new instruments. Unfortunately, nothing was wrong, I just had to get used to louder noises: “Wear them for a week and you’ll probably get used to them. If not, we’ll make some adjustments…”
That same night I realised that I couldn’t sleep with my hearing aids on: they would whistle as soon as my head touched the pillow. If you don’t know, this phenomenon is called feedback. It was a bit painful to suddenly realise that I still would not hear the morning alarm clock, the doorbell, or a car exploding outside my front door (it actually happened!) while I was asleep.
A few weeks into the fitting process and I had to readjust my expectations: I would still struggle to hear in some situations, and obsessively going back to the clinic every week was not going to deliver the expected results. There wasn’t going to be a fitting that would let me hear group conversations in loud restaurants, or even have 1-to-1 conversations in clubs!
Oh, and I didn’t have to wait too long for people to start noticing the devices in my ears. They were tiny yes, but not invisible.
The visibility of my devices, it turned out, was not a bad thing at all! Probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I wore long hair to cover them a little, but people close to me would still notice them. This forced me to talk to them about my hearing problem, which really helped!
If you’re interested, I talk about the myth of invisible hearing aids in this blog post.
In fact, the more people I told I had hearing limitations, the better I felt, it was like getting a huge weight off my chest. It’s often hard for people with normal hearing to understand why it’s such a big deal to share, or to simply admit that one needs help.
In hindsight, I think that sharing has literally changed my life. I became gradually addicted to it. I went from hiding my hearing loss at work to being celebrated at Mimi.io BECAUSE of my hearing loss. I was their employee, customer and guinea-pig. They wanted to know everything about life with hearing loss, and I was happy to answer all the questions.
Now it’s my turn to ask you the question: how was your first time? What expectations did you have? I would like to hear your experience.
Feel free to comment below, of if you prefer, fill in this survey. It’s completely anonymous.
Also, surveys are good, but interviews are better, if you are up for one, please drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.