Becoming hard of hearing was a complete surprise for me when it happened. It wasn’t a thing I had expected or even thought about. No one warned me about hearing loss.
One day I was the way I had always been, and the next, as I saw it, broken. Of course this wasn’t really the case at all. It was simply my perception at the time and thankfully a temporary one. Perhaps things would be different if hearing loss was taught in school or a common subject of social chitchat. It would have helped me if during regular health checks, my healthcare providers had taken a few minutes to mention that hearing loss was a possibility in the future.
Instead, it came as a total surprise. Because I was unprepared, it was so much harder to deal with. Is my story unusual? Not at all. The problem is that in our society, everything is geared towards the mainstream. Good hearing is considered the societal norm.
“Because I was unprepared, it was so much harder to deal with.”
It can be difficult to find a sympathetic reaction from those around us. Mainly, this is because there is still something of a stigma attached to the whole subject of hearing loss and deafness. Hearing people will often choose to ignore that there really is a problem because hearing loss is such an invisible disability.
Part of the issue is that the hearing mainstream tend to view most hearing loss as amusing, but not a real problem. They consider it to be something people should just put up with. There is a false perception that just because everyone mishears from time to time that hearing loss is no different. It can at times be viewed as more of an excuse than a real issue.
It’s only fair that I point out that this attitude which comes to us from the mainstream hearing society is not really anyone’s fault. There really isn’t some global conspiracy at play here. The real problem is a lack of education where hearing loss is concerned. It is really that simple. If only the experience of hearing loss was as simple.
I’m in a really good place now, as far as my hearing loss is concerned. Given the choice, I certainly would have preferred being better informed. The way things stand at this time, the onus is on us to self-educate. The information is certainly available, thanks to groups, organizations, and websites such as this one.
These days we should all be as body-conscious as we can. As doctors tell us, we are our own experts on ourselves. When it comes to hearing issues, we can tell if something’s wrong. Of course, we may get the odd hint from those closest to us. I know I did. My family knew I had a problem before I did.
If you are in your late 40s or 50s or know of someone who is, it’s time to ask questions about hearing loss and deafness. Quality help is available, and having hearing loss isn’t the end of anything. It’s really just another part of the journey.
What else can be done to increase awareness?