“I just don’t want to get my hearing tested. I already feel like I’m old.”
“Honey, it’s not any different than needing glasses.”
There’s a stigma around hearing loss as we age. It’s for old people. And by old I mean 90.
I may be feeling my years but I’m definitely not 90. So I put it off. Working from home full time during the pandemic made it easy to ignore. Make my family come closer or turn up the volume on Zoom. Easy peasy. No hearing aids required.
“Let’s review your test results,” says the very nice audiologist.
“You have mild to moderate hearing loss in both ears and I do recommend hearing aids.”
To say I drug my feet on making the next appointment would be the understatement of the century.
Going back to the office changed that.
My work space is one of those open plans where our whole marketing department sits in one big room. My closest coworkers consist of my talented creative team and there’s a lot of collaboration that happens.
After my hearing test, I’m sitting at my desk one day typing away. I look up and notice my team is having a conversation. Everybody laughs. About what? No clue.
I get up and stretch and raise my desk up to standing hoping that will help because we’ll all be at the same level.
My designer says something unintelligible to me.
“I’m sorry, can you say that again?”
I walk around to her desk and she apologizes for making me leave my work space.
“Oh, that’s ok, this will be easier anyway.”
Why would I tell her I can’t hear her? Because that’s embarrassing.
I recount my experience at home later.
“Honey, it’s just like getting glasses. I promise your quality of life will improve.” My loving husband is always pushing me in all the good ways.
“Fine. I’ll make the appointment.”
(It’s possible there were tears involved later that night as I came to terms with the inevitability of my hearing situation.)
Day 1 of Hearing Assistant Devices or HAD for short.
I’m surfing my phone, sipping on my morning coffee while the usual Saturday morning chaos ensues. Alex bounces upstairs and I can hear both boys start sifting through the Lego bin. It’s like I’m in the room with them, it’s so loud.
“Wow. Those Legos are SO loud!”
To my left, Odessa nods and says, “Right? And they do it for hours.”
Oh. So that’s what other people hear?
Day 2 of HAD
I’m in the bathroom getting ready for the day and Nick is in the bedroom. I haven’t put my HADs in yet and I can tell he said something but couldn’t hear what it was.
“Hold on,” I say as I install my shiny new devices.
“Ok, say it again please.”
We proceed to have a conversation while I’m in the bathroom and he’s in the bedroom. It feels like a miracle.
Day 3 of HAD
Ok, so this whole HAD thing isn’t so bad after all. And it dawns on me…the stigma almost kept me from enjoying being able to hear and interact with not only my family but my coworkers too.
I’ve made it my new goal to talk openly about my HADs (hearing aids is still a stupid name) because I CAN HEAR YOU!
“Mom, can I go with Ash to the store?” Emily says from halfway up the stairs.
I smile. “Sure.” You know why? Because I could hear her.