“Hearing aids opened a whole world for me”

By Mercy Semeyian

Mercy and her mother
Mercy and her mother

Though still a young adult, I have battled to retain my hearing for years.

My trouble started a few months before sitting (for) my final primary education examination. In Kenya, our final year is full of intense revision, internal exams and peak preparation. One fine but cold morning I woke with an unusual roaring buzz in my ears—like the roar of a man-made drone. Hearing became difficult so I asked everyone to talk louder to me or even shout if necessary—that’s just what it took.

My parents and I assumed this buzzing would last some few hours or for that day only. But the buzzing persisted. Friends, classmates, and teachers found it uncomfortable to talk louder than normal when addressing me. But my parents and I were affected most: acceptance was hard and I processed the whole situation grudgingly. I needed this to go away—and fast. I would feel depressed, anxious, and my concentration in class was poor. But my audiologist would soon introduce me to the world of aided-hearing.

First Hearing Aids
My first pair of hearing aids was a donation from a hearing foundation. I used them until I completed my secondary education. The behind-the-ear hearing aids were a bit larger, so new people would wonder or stare at the gadgets behind my ears.

I had to develop acceptance and confidence in my early days to put those hearing aids on. I was ashamed of my condition at first, but because I actually needed them and there was no way out, I made peace with myself. There were times when someone would talk too low and I would miss (or mishear) what they said. Sometimes I had to deal with negative reactions from people who would not understand I may have missed what they were saying.

First ReSound Hearing Aids
Then a very special couple, Rod and Nancy Van Scivers (my U.S. sponsors), helped find me better, more powerful and more efficient hearing aids—a new set of ReSound state-of-the-art hearing instruments! I immediately fell in love with them.

These hearing aids blend amazingly with my skin color! And they are relatively small, so you won’t even notice I am wearing one but you’ll be surprised that I now won’t miss much of what you tell me. They are so powerful and comfortable that I now experience sounds I had missed hearing, such as whispers and soft speech and a clock ticking. And what makes me love them more is that they came with the Resound Mini Microphone —a huge positive change for me in my learning. In the past I had to strain during lectures in big lecture halls. But the Mini Microphone attaches to the lecturer’s collar. I can control the sound from the back of my hearing aids. Now, I can now hear the lecturer from wherever I’m seated in the hall. More reason to look forward to my lectures! I’m smiling now and can say that problem is solved.

It has been a long journey for me and my parents—a journey marked with tears and uncountable trips to the doctor for checkups and medication. My warm heart has a big sincere thank you to my sponsors and Dr. Erica and the ReSound team for these wonderful aids to people like me. And to my friends, family members and people who still continue to understand and hold my hand in this journey. I say, “Ashe Oleng,” which is Maasai for “Thank You.”

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