Hearing aids have come a long way from the boring beige of years ago. They’ve become as fashionable as eyeglasses. When I ordered new hearing aids, this time, I went all out. Blue, pink, and aqua.
You see, I spent the first 19 years of my life hiding the single hearing aid I had in my right ear. I disliked, (very intensely, okay, let’s call it hated) the piece of plastic that blasted sounds into my head. Back then, hearing aids merely amplified sound and it was very difficult to get a customized fit according to one’s hearing needs. As a result, I often ended up with headaches. The throbbing pain, combined with the stress of hiding the contraption, created some not-very-fond memories of growing up hard of hearing.
When I became deaf at 19, I had a major paradigm shift. I woke up one morning and decided to stop hiding and start embracing, instead. So for the first time, I put my hair in a ponytail, slapped on the hearing aid, and went on with life.
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It wasn’t easy. I had spent a lifetime fitting in instead of standing out. I had to learn to become comfortable with people looking at the hearing aid and asking questions. Slowly, but surely, the paradigm shifted to the point where I no longer cared who stared at my ears or my signing.
Then a beautiful thing happened. I started CELEBRATING the shift.
I was excited when I went in to get fitted for my new hearing aids, but I really didn’t expect much. My hearing was so far down on the charts that I mostly used the hearing aids for environmental sounds and to help me lipread. The audiologist, Solange Anderson, who is from (Phonak) Switzerland also had hearing aids and could sign. It was such a treat to have an audiologist who understood all aspects of being deaf/hard of hearing.
“I have to warn you, sometimes people become very emotional when they hear new sounds,” she said.