How and when did you first realize you were experiencing hearing loss?
I was first diagnosed with hearing loss at the age of six. As a child, if I missed a word or pronounced it wrong people would face me and repeat at which point, I was learning to lip read before I could actually hear, which I’m forever thankful for as it is a gift in its own right! I was then diagnosed with high frequency hearing loss in both ears.
I remember the first day at primary school all the other children asking what those huge ‘things’ were in my ears and why and what do they do, but the simple answer was they make my ears work like yours. The classroom wasn’t too bad as I think the carpets limited the sound bouncing, but I can picture the day I walked up to the dinner hall, picked up my tray and the line in front of me plunging hands into the cutlery tray felt like a thousand glasses clattering through my brain.
At this point, in tears, I refused to wear them again, my mum convinced me to go back to have them reprogrammed and give them another try, so that’s what we did. It was then we realized that the program I had been given was to amplify EVERYTHING which when you only have high frequency loss, was quite stressful and overwhelming. I tried several different programs (years ago having to book another appointment and get them uploaded). I used to use the hearing loop as well; the great big fluffy loop hanging around your neck with a battery pack over your shoulder! An absolute nightmare in sports.
I’d like to point out that it was no one’s fault that I missed so much, from isolating unintentionally at school purely because I would worry that I’d heard it wrong, to finding quiet crafts so that I didn’t have to be involved in stressful conversations, before long, without realizing, I became known as the wall flower.
I would also find myself having to take hearing aids out when exercising (which puts your balance out completely). I would be somersaulting on a trampoline only to feel my hearing aid shoot across the gym as it wasn’t fitted right or I’d outgrown the molds.
Day to day I would miss things like the cooker beeping (this was the first time we realized that I needed my ears tested) or things like clicking a pen, pulling apart velcro, keys clattering together; all of these I have only since discovered since having ReSound hearing aids, which I cannot thank enough for! And of course, my most recent discovery: the beautiful sounds of birds!
Based on your experience, do you have suggestions for others on how and where to start? Any other important things for them to consider?
Firstly, I would say never give up! Everyone has complex ears, and it takes fine tuning to be able to make them just right for you. Pairing you with the right hearing care professional is also very important, so that they understand you, what you like to do in your spare time as well as in your studies or career. Just remember that every new program won’t ‘fix’ your ears overnight, I felt like it took me at least two weeks after each re-program to get used to the surroundings before I could decide if it was right for me.
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What was your biggest concern about hearing aids? Did that turn out to be true?
Everyone has the perception that you only have hearing loss when you ‘get old’ which, as we know, is not true. I remember having to explain as a child that some people have glasses because they can’t see very well, and some people have hearing aids because they can’t hear very well. As I got older, I realized that I shouldn’t take anything to heart but equally let people know that I lip read and ask if they could kindly face me when they are talking so that I can understand them.
In the early days, my concern was always about batteries; every single bag and coat, school tray and classroom had to have spares (just in case) but they always seem to run out at the most inconvenient time, end up in the wash or only had one left in the packet but both hearing aids were out of power!
I discovered ReSound by chance when working at Centre Parcs about five years ago, where I was helping run corporate events (ReSound being one of the stands there). I got chatting about the ones that I had and my hearing loss and they offered me the chance to trial a pair that had just been launched, since then, I have never looked back! The team is fantastic, and nothing is ever too much trouble, we have regular check-ins and tests to make sure I am still running as I should be.
What would you tell someone who is considering hearing aids?
Never put a price on your hearing aids! They will literally change your life! There is no point in scrimping when the quality outweighs it all. The amount of research and technology that goes into them is forever changing and equally remember that not all hearing aids will be suitable for you, it will sometimes be trial and error and sometimes you might want to revert back to your old pair.
There are also a range of masks out there that go over the top of your head (I’ve made some myself as the rustling can be a little annoying long term).
Which ReSound Hearing Aid(s) do you have?