These are the words of Linda Almqvist, a 41‑year‑old woman who works as a driving instructor at a traffic school in Halmstad, Sweden. Her life took a turn in the right direction when she got access to the right hearing aids.
“There’s a wide range of hearing aids and accessories available today that make everyday life so much easier for people with hearing loss,” she says.
Linda speaks from experience. She has single-sided hearing loss in her left ear and knows how much energy it takes just to concentrate on what someone is saying.
Linda’s hearing loss was discovered when she was six years old. The year was 1983.
“I wish the solutions we have today would have been around then, but in 1983 there wasn’t much available,” says Linda. At the time, she met with a deaf and hard of hearing teacher and was offered a little extra assistance in school. She learned to read lips early on and was constantly trying to find a good spot in the classroom where she could hear what the teacher was saying.
“Then I just had to buckle up and try my best,” she says.
Linda started working as a driving instructor in 2009 and quickly realized that her hearing loss was a reoccurring problem during driving lessons. It took so much effort for her to hear the student driver on her left side. This is because the engine noise she would hear in her right ear would drown out other voices.
“I solved the problem by sitting diagonally in the seat turned toward the driver, which soon resulted in neck pain,” says Linda. She found it stressful in some situations when she had to strain to hear what the student driver was saying while at the same time trying to concentrate on the surrounding traffic.
“Working took a lot of my energy, and that was noticed when I came home,” she says. “It wasn’t unusual for me to fall asleep on the couch at eight o’clock at night.”
Then Linda went on parental leave for a few years and the challenges of the job melted into the background. The challenges came into focus again when Linda went back to her job. Soon enough, the neck pain returned.
The solution came unexpectedly one day during a driving lesson when it turned out that her student driver also had hearing loss. The student told Linda about the hearing aids she used in her job as a teacher. “It was a wake-up call for me,” says Linda. “When she told me how much they helped her have a functioning workday, I thought that there had to be a solution for me, too.”
Linda contacted the hearing health clinic in Halmstad, which referred her to Phonak and a meeting was scheduled. During the meeting, Linda tried out a number of hearing aids and accessories. This included the Roger Pen and Roger Table Mic, which she was given to try out free of charge for two months.
“I got the time to really test how they worked for me specifically,” she says. “I also got a lot of good advice and suggestions on how these aids could be used in different ways in different environments. Advice that I continue to benefit from.”
Today, Linda uses both the pen and the table microphone. And she is very happy with them.
“In the car I use the Roger Pen, which I attach just over the steering wheel so that I can clearly hear what my students say,” she says. “And in the classroom, I use the Roger Table Mic, which I can combine with the Roger Pen to further amplify the sound if needed.”
She says that a lot of people are curious about her hearing aids and most are very surprised about what great technology is available today. Technology that has made Linda’s work situation much easier – something she clearly notices. “I have a lot more energy left over for other things when I come home from work.”
Read more: What is a Roger Pen and is it worth it?
Of course, there are still some daily challenges to tackle when you have hearing loss.
“Sure there are, but the challenges are usually pretty easy to overcome,” she says. “When I go out for coffee, for example, I try to find a quieter café with more secluded seating areas. This makes it easier for me to keep up with the conversation.”
Another challenge is that Linda lacks what is called directional hearing. “I quite simply don’t hear which direction a sound is coming from, which can be difficult,” she says. “But my kids have learned that when they call for me, they also have to tell me where they are.”
“I always try to see the bright side of things,” says Linda and explains that her own challenges have given her a greater understanding of others in difficult situations.
“I had a hard time in school and I know how tough it can be,” she says. “Having that understanding and being able to empathize with the student – I have my hearing loss to thank for that.”
Linda hopes that everyone who finds themselves in the situation she was in a few years ago seeks help. She is incredibly grateful and happy that she got the advice on the hearing aids she now uses. After her experiences, wants to share that information with others.
“There are lots of hearing aids to choose from and there is help out there. You shouldn’t have to be restricted because of your hearing loss, either at work or in your free time,” says Linda and hurries off to her next driving lesson.