I was sitting listening to a rather beautiful piece of music called, The Heart Asks Pleasure First, played by Myleene Klass the other night. As I sat there streaming the enchanting piece to my Paradise hearing aids, I couldn't help feeling wonder at how far we have come on the journey with digital hearing aids. It made me consider how much joy my hearing aids give me. It also made me feel sorry for people who don't have to wear them. Then I read a little study that reminded me that it takes people an average of seven years to deal with their hearing loss from the time they realise they have a problem. They are robbing themselves of the pure joy of living. The inaction means seven long years of frustration, irritation, embarrassment. It doesn't have to be that way, and it shouldn't. Let's talk about hearing loss and facing your demons.
The Seven-Year Gap
So why do people delay, what drives that seven-year gap between dawning realisation and action? Initially, it may be uncertainty, hearing loss sneaks up on you in the insidious manner of the tax bill. You know it's coming, but you are frantically hoping that if you don't check your mail, it will never arrive! Or is that just me?
Anyway, hearing loss is insidious, it sneaks up on you like a .... rather sneaky thing. I don't have a problem, the kids just don't speak clearly, always talking into their chest, and while I am at it, actors today are certainly no Shakespearian thespians! And don't get me started on film soundtracks! Sound a little familiar?
Okay, so initially there is uncertainty, and it is easy to blame others. However, there is no excuse for not going along to your nearest hearing care provider for a hearing test. Many of them offer at the very least, a screening test for free that will allow you to be sure. For many though, they don't want to be sure at this stage, hell no, rather be ignorant! But why? Is it the S word, the word we shall never utter?
The Stigma is in Your Head
There is no stigma with hearing loss other than the little voices in your head. Those voices that tell you that you are getting old, those voices that ask you what will people think. The voices that tell you that having to wear a hearing aid is some sort of statement on you, your age, your worth. The voices in your head are lying to you! You know, generally, people are too busy just trying to deal with their own shit to worry about yours hahaha.
Balancing The Voices in Your Head
Steve echoed my own thoughts in an article called "My life with hearing loss" a while ago, I often talk about the voices in your head, the ones who would rob you of your confidence. The wheedly little voices we all know too well. The fact is, that we give them power, they are our own thoughts, not the thoughts of others. He put it eloquently when he said:
"I realise now that it was my own negative thoughts, my own worries that may have held me back in some small things, not my hearing loss, that was just my excuse that I could have easily fixed had I had the self-belief to do so. I should have worn hearing aids at an earlier age, should have embraced it and told everyone I couldn’t hear so well, turns out no-one is really bothered about it, it was just my own concerns. So, I don’t think my life today would be any different if I had perfect hearing, but I could have made the journey a lot easier on myself."
I would be Embarrassed
I don't understand this, although I am infamous for not being too worried about how people view me. Embarrassed, hell you people are lucky I wear trousers, generally, I only remember to because it is cold when I open the front door. My answer when people say this, is are they not more embarrassed that their worry about what other people think stops them from helping themselves? This embarrassment is born of the idea that hearing loss is some sinful statement on who they are, that it is a direct attack on their worth. That's all arse (Irish technical term) complete and utter arse.
Don't Listen to The Arse
A hearing loss is not a statement on you, on who you are, on how old you are, it merely is. No more and no less. I have said it before, and I will repeat it, hearing loss is not a statement on you, it just is. Ask yourself, honestly, is it more embarrassing to be in control of your own ability to communicate or to stumble through life trying to bluff something while everyone knows you have a problem? Because everyone knows you have a problem, and the truth of the matter is that they are probably more likely to pity you because you haven't taken steps to sort it.
Because that is the truth, not doing something about a hearing loss that is affecting your life is a statement on you. Being too vain or proud or caught up with the demons in your head that you don't take steps to deal with your hearing loss rather succinctly makes a statement about you. Think about it, what are you missing? What are you losing out on by not dealing with your hearing loss?
What Are You Missing?
The whispered words of a loved one, the simple joy of an incredibly moving piece of music, the rather sweet words of your Grandchildren, the pleasure of easy social contact. Should I go on? How much do you miss the joy of easy communication, getting the joke first time, instead of them having to repeat themselves? The frustration of having to ask someone "what did they say?" The sitting in a room of people you love while being almost completely isolated. The simple joy of easy conversation.
You know the next time you are tired and worn out from the effort needed to just listen? Do you know that feeling of stress, that feeling of being overwhelmed? You know the simmering strife in your home life because the people you love are at their wits end? Well, most of that can be quickly dealt with by using hearing aids.
Hearing aids aren't all plain sailing, I won't lie to you. It takes a while to get used to them, and it takes time to get the best from them. Admittedly I am lucky, I don't really suffer from a lot of problems with hearing well in background noise with modern hearing aids. Maybe that is why I feel that hearing aids kind of put me at an advantage over the people who don't wear them.
The simple pleasure of hands-free phone calls, asking my hearing aids what the hell am I doing today, streaming beautiful, inspiring music, the joy of Terry Pratchett books on audio, and the manic if sometimes hilarious dictation of messages and emails, the pure unadulterated silliness of walking through a shopping mall while singing along with my tunes or asking myself what seem like stupid questions, so Google, what is the root of the word gobshite? The wonder of a Grandchild's I love you. All of these things bring me joy.
Those things are worth working for, those things are worth fighting for. You know it to be true, you know that to ignore it is to shrivel up and die, to lose who you are, to lose the simple things that help you connect, that help you to be the centre of your world. The satisfaction of life, the pure unadulterated joys are yours to grasp, just get on with it, you will be far happier.
Me and the voices in my head will be a lot happier if you do.
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