Auditory Fatigue

All three hearing loss organizations in the US have their good points. I love my local HLAA chapter for its face to face meetings. A few weeks ago they had Susan Naidu, an audiologist at the University of Utah talk about auditory fatigue, also called listener fatigue and cognitive energy fatigue. She works with patients in the clinic, trains graduate students to become audiologists and her favorite thing to do is aural rehabilitation therapy. She was happy to talk about auditory fatigue because “it’s a very real phenomenon, it’s a real condition but it’s not discussed much and not researched enough.” It isn’t clinically recognized but many professionals are familiar with it.

tired again

Auditory fatigue doesn’t mean people are dumb because they can’t listen, it’s the “energy it takes to fulfill the complexity of listening because listening requires more to go on in your brain in order to comprehend what you’re listening to.” Ian Noon wrote about this in his piece on the Limping Chicken out of the United Kingdom only he called it concentration fatigue. Noon says: “I went to a great conference today. It was riveting and I was hooked on pretty much every word. And then I got home and collapsed on the sofa. I’m not just tired, I’m shattered. I’ve had to turn my ears off to rest in silence and my eyes are burning. I’ve also had about 3 cups of tea just to write this paragraph.”

Susan introduced us to Kathleen Fuller’s work on hearing loss and cognitive energy. Kathleen asks: “How can audiologists better understand and find ways to counteract the factors underlying why listeners may decide to quit participating in activities because it takes too much effort to listen? How can audiologists help listeners to strategically deploy their available cognitive capacity in situations where it is hard to listen? How can audiologists prevent listeners from avoiding situations and withdrawing from social participation because it is too hard to listen?… It’s said we hear with our ears and listen with our brain now we add when and how much effort we expend during listening in everyday life depends on our motivation to achieve goals and attain rewards of personal and/or social value.”

Listening takes effort. It’s not only being able to hear but being able to pull all the components together to communicate properly. It’s being able to understand language, generating an appropriate response and being able to keep it going back and forth to make a conversation. Usually people aren’t just listening either, they are multitasking; washing the dishes, walking, watching TV, etc.

For those with hearing loss it takes even more effort. Not only are they taking in the above but they are trying to decode the message. Add in being visually aware to compensate such as speechreading and body language. The mind races to fill in blank spots in words and conversations which involves guess work. The mental process is “I’m not hearing well enough. I have to do something and physically push the brain to listen better.” After an hour (or less) these people are really tired and experience discomfort, pain and numbness.

 

What makes listening even more difficult? Noise, it’s the number one complaint for those coming into Susan’s clinic. Trying to filter and ignore noise makes listening harder for hearing people and difficult for the hard of hearing. Even with modern technology in hearing aids such as directional microphones and noise reduction programs noise remains a problem. Restaurants are an example, bars and traffic. (Hearing in cars has never been easy!)

What other things become hard with this much cognitive energy being spent? Remembering things get harder because with so much going on in the mind already, it’s hard to find a place to stash the information. People may have a hard time remembering names because there’s more focus to understand what’s being said. While in a meeting they can be so intent on understanding the words as they are being said that half the meeting information is forgotten.

Because of the intense concentration, hard of hearing employees end up taking more days off. The mental stress affects their bodies causing illness among some. Or to balance out, they stay home evenings and weekends to recuperate, avoiding social activity. For those who don’t work, many tend to withdraw because it’s too much work going to that party, the play or lecture. It’s easier to stay home and watch TV with captions. It’s not worth it in the end, the struggle is too much.

tired

Mohan Matthen is studying why some hard of hearing people are more successful at socializing than others. He thinks it might be a pleasure factor. When audiologists diagnose hearing loss and fit people with hearing aids they tend to talk about adverse conditions. What if they talked about positive things instead? If a person can exhibit more pleasure in the role of listening they might be more relaxed and less stressed out. Once it becomes pleasurable their listening effort seems to be reduced. No matter how hard it seems, seek listening enjoyment. Make it fun and shoot for positive because the reward will be “I will understand.”

So what helps combat this fatigue?

Advocating helps a great deal. What do you need to make this meeting better? CART (live captioning)? Sitting closer to the presenter? Assistive listening devices? One speaker at a time? Don’t talk while multitasking? There’s a lot to be said for planning ahead as well. Think about the environment, talk to the event coordinators, find out if the venue has assistive listening devices such as the CaptiView at theaters or live captioned performances. If you’re going to a lecture/workshop/convention, talk to those in charge well in advance to see what might be set. Some people report learning speechreading has helped lighten their fatigue. Visiting with people a few at time instead of large groups. Limit interruptions, have a quiet room to talk to family members at large gatherings. Ask for background noises (music or TV) to be turned down or off. Go outside to eat because break rooms usually have lousy acoustics. Take hearing breaks and read instead of watching TV. Arrange for hand signals when conversation needs to be slowed down or when wanting someone to talk louder. Find out what works for you and advocate for yourself. It’s okay to experiment with it all.

The presenter validated what most of feel almost daily, I’m so glad I attended.  I don’t shy away from social situations often, I even attend noisy ones without much thought although occasionally I refuse to go because I’m already tired. If I’m that tired I’ve learned from experience I won’t have the energy needed to make the best of the situation staying home instead. Knowing when not to venture out has saved me a few meltdowns.

I also know when to get CART, when ALDs will work, or not, and it’s even helped to know I’ll fail from time to time. I now analyze my bad times to find ways to make it better next time. 

Advocating for myself has made a tremendous difference in my social pleasure. I tell people up front I lipread, they need to face me or get my attention before talking. Most people are good and will comply and some very interesting conversations have followed.

More links on auditory fatigue.

Studies done on prolonged exposure to audio stimulus (for those who want to go deeper). This phenomenon occurs after an extended period of time listening to speech and happens to hearing people as well. Hearing people have more problems than expected which might be related to an auditory processing disorder. Susan said those with hearing loss all have auditory processing disorders.

Richard Gurgel is studying the relationship of hearing loss and dementia. Are individuals with diagnosed mild dementia experiencing decline in auditory processing? Older individuals who have hearing loss but didn’t have hearing aids showed improvements once aided, not just in quality of life but in skills. People were thinking they had dementia when they didn’t.

Starkey on listening fatigue.

Amplification study. Amplification has limited improvement for those with a steep slope high frequency hearing loss.

Susan recommends the LACE (Listening And Communication Enhancement) Program, it improves listening skills.

More publications by Mohan Matthen on hearing loss and displeasure.

The Ditto

I got the Ditto about a month ago, curious to try things out that might help the hard of hearing.

ditto

picture from pc world

The Ditto is an alerting devices for phone calls (I rarely do the phone), incoming texts, email and more.  It has a good, strong vibrate for such a little thing and it has several options of vibrating patterns.  I had a few people ask me why I wanted to try this because our phones alert us in several ways.  So here’s my deal…

My phone is always silenced.  Any noise that I can hear from any distance is going to be LOUD and obnoxious.  When it’s that loud, it scares me half to death when it goes off.  I have a flash alert set instead which works when I’m near the phone and remember to place it face down so I can see the flash.  If I’m out and about, it’s in my purse or in a pocket unless I’m expecting a text then I’ll carry it in my hand, hopefully face down to see the flash.  This makes me pretty attached to my phone and my hands full at times.  It might be nice having the Ditto but I didn’t expect to like it much because it is Bluetooth and drains the battery on my phone.

 

I tried it out driving to the SayWhatClub convention in Boise at the beginning of August.  I kept it plugged into the car charger.  It was nice to know when texts were coming in and I knew to look when I stopped.  Then I wore it the next day because I kind of liked not having my phone in my hands all the time.  I tried it in the pool (it’s water proof) at the hotel.  It seemed to lose the bluetooth connection and the ‘tether’ alert would go off.  (Tether is an alert designed to tell you when you are too far away from your phone or forgot it somewhere.)  That night I went out on the Boise Brew Cruise I kept it on (charging my phone before I left).   The cruise took us to 3 Boise brew pubs and my phone and the Ditto kept up.

So I started wearing the Ditto more because at the convention not only do I have my family/friends texting as normal but we attendees also start texting each other for information on activities and such.  I’m also charging my phone a lot more but I don’t mind because it’s useful for me.

At home I continued to wear it because I liked not carrying my phone around with me.  I wore it at work so I didn’t get behind on texts, mostly what’s going on at home and things can happen fast at home.  Yesterday I forgot to take it to work with me and I missed it.  I’ll have to start tucking it into a purse pocket.

I don’t use it all the time because sometimes I like having a break from my phone or maybe I’m not doing anything more than watching TV so I can check my phone.  I’m glad I have the device though, it’s frees my hands up and I can forget about my phone for a while confident I’ll get the alert.

The only time the vibrate freaked me out is when I was in the backyard with the bees.  My husband has a hive of bees and bees can freak me out.  The bees were thirsty, zooming back and forth in the yard looking for water.  I was trying to get some toys out of the shed for my grandsons while keeping my cool.  My tether alert went off and I did this freaky dance in the yard slapping at my collar-bone while turning a circle.  It took me a few seconds to figure it was the Ditto and gather my wits again.  It probably looked funny but the 5 yr old and 1 yr old didn’t catch the humor.  They were just looking at me crazy like wondering what I was going to do next.

* Texting is my main mode of communication.  I think in an average month I send and receive around 2,000 texts.  My record is around 4,000 and that was about 4 years ago.

 

Lipreader

I’m a lipreader and I say that to people thinking it’s straight forward.  I haven’t said hard of hearing in a few years because people think it’s talk louder, not look at me.  I want them to look at me so I hear better and I can see.

A few weekends ago I attended a little get together.  The lights were dimmed to create atmosphere so I asked the host if he could turn up the lights so I could hear better.  He laughed and thought that was so funny and I meant to deliver it in a humorous way to keep the request light.  My husband told him, “It’s so she can see your lips better.”  The host is a sweetheart and he turned up the lights and I did okay!

Most hearing people get it when I say I lipread.  (It’s politically correct to use speechreading these days but most people understand the term lipreading better.)  I use my remaining hearing also, like pieces to a puzzle.  Lipreading works well.  It gets them to face me and sound is delivered right to me and I can use my lipreading ability too.  Between the two, I get along great in many situations.  Until I don’t.

Being a Burning Man person since 2002, I attend regional burns and this last weekend was one of them.  I went to run around the fire like the old days but a ranger stopped me with arms out.  I hear enough to know she was talking but heard nothing of what she said so I told her I lipread.  She immediately started using American Sign Language (ASL) with me and I t was hard not to roll my eyes.  Or maybe I did. I told her “I lipread, I don’t sign.”  She stopped but then she didn’t know how to talk to me. She kept looking down and away so I told her to keep her face toward the fire so I could use the light too.  After all that, she was pretty good and explained the new rules of the burn.  I eventually admitted to her I am learning sign but I’m not fluent enough to have conversations yet.  She told me she’s an interpreter at the local college.

Today I was talking to another lipreading friend and she said she often has problems lipreading interpreters.  I thought that was odd at first because at work the interpreters will voice interpret for me when necessary….but wait.  I work at the state Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center.  They know me and other hard of hearing people so they know more about our needs.

So I started thinking about it. I have a neighbor across the street who is also an ASL interpreter at the local community college.  She’s painfully shy and doesn’t use any body language when talking to me nor facial expressions.  (Hard to imagine her interpreting.) She talks super low too and I barely register her voice most of the time.  I think my friend is right, most ASL interpreters don’t know how to talk to the hard of hearing.  What an odd world.  The Deaf and the Hard of Hearing have troubles with hearing communication so you’d think it would cross over but it generally doesn’t.

lipreading website

Want to learn more about lipreading?  Here’s a few sites for you.

Rachel Kolb.  She’s deaf and she signs but she also lipreads.  She made a great video describing how hard it can be to lipread.  https://vimeo.com/148127830

Here’s a site for practicing lipreading though it’s from the United Kingdom.  The accent makes it harder to understand however I was surprised at how many words I understood.  https://pddcs.co.uk/2013/11/19/online-lipreading-practice-resource/

Here’s the American version which is easier but after a few lessons they charge a fee.  https://www.lipreading.org/

For a lot of fun and to see how lipreading can go so wrong, watch the bad lipreading series on YouTube.  Here’s a football one to get you started https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-kGosnzvjU There are all kinds of them, including politics, Star Wars and more.  Be sure to click the CC button. Sometimes it’s YouTube craptions but mostly I think they have good captions.

Here’s my favorite speechreading book: https://www.amazon.com/Speechreading-Carol-Garretson-Harriet-Kaplan/dp/B0088OYYFW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468884139&sr=8-1&keywords=speechreading

There are DVD lessons to buy out there too but I’m not seeing the one I work with.  I’ll find her full name when I go to work on Wednesday and enter it in the comments afterward.

There are lipreading classes available.  I know because we teach them here in Utah.  I teach the class myself and it’s my favorite one.  Look up your state Deaf and Hard of Hearing center for resources.  Try a web search too.  The bigger the city, the more likely there will be one in your area.

Summer Busy

I keep thinking I need to post but haven’t had much time between summer camp trips, work, family and holidays. I’m not done writing about hearing loss by far but I haven’t had a lot of sit down time at my computer either. Even now I’m tapping this all out on my phone. 

Summer fun (and work) also involves the SayWhatClub convention coming up August 3-6 in Boise, Idaho. I have so much fun at their conventions and look forward to every year. I’m also on the convention committee which means a chunk of my time goes into helping to put this event on. The last month always has its challenges, the main one being getting a temporary hearing loop put in.  None of the audio visual companies up there are willing to put in a loop. Most haven’t even heard about it so I got to do a little educating at the very least. 

It’s like Boise is in the dark ages in regards to hearing loss needs. Not only are we having problems with the loop but there are issues with getting a play captioned at the Shakespeare Festival. They are really dragging their feet over this.  Boise needs us. 

In spite of the problems I know things will come through. I’m reminded that success is not a straight line. 


I will have fun. Here’s picture of past fun…

2012 My first ever SWC convention. This is the welcome party where I wore balloons because the night before someone learned the ASL phrase “She has fake boobs.”


2013 Fun with my tutu at the banquet.


2014 My tiaras and her bug eye glasses made for a lot of goofing around.


I missed 2015 only because my grandson chose that time to come into this world.  I have a great outfit planned for the banquet this year, pictures will come after the convention. 

So I leave with this quote I saw in FB this morning. 


From one of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho. I’m not going to apologize for my hearing loss or regret it. I’ve met too many good people thought it to ever regret again. Hate myself? Never, there’s more fun to be had, especially with my tribe. Dieting-ah that is something I think about but the quote is right…be brave, be who we are and take risks. Even with hearing loss we can live this life!

my Not hard of hearing life

I’m going to post about me today and not so much about hearing loss.  Hearing loss will slip in because it’s part of my every day life in some form or another.

  Here’s my husband.

kenny

We met in 2007 at Burning Man.  We’ve had our ups and downs like most couples and we hung in there enough to get married a year and a half ago.  We are doing well as a married couple, to death do us part.

We camp a lot.  He might say we don’t but I think we do.  Last week we were up at Green River Lakes, WY.  Last month we were in the Grand Staircase near Esclante, UT and Capitol Reef.  The month before that, we were camping in Eastern Arizona for their regional burn.  Next month it’s camping again for Utah’s regional burn.

Sagurao Man

Saguaro Man in Arizona

Grand Staircase

Green River Lakes, WY

I have 3 kids, my daughter being the oldest.  All 3 are in their 20’s.  I love family time with my kids. I don’t to get to see them all 3 together at once but when I do I sure treasure it.  We have good times together playing cards, watching movies and goofing around.

kids and me

Me and the kids in 2008

20140916_188

It can’t ever be a serious picture.

A few of many card nights.

20150107_162

This picture includes my son-in-law.

My daughter has given me two grandsons I absolutely adore.  The oldest is 5 years old and the youngest turned 1 year old last month.  I never knew being a grandma would be so much fun.  My daughter says it’s because I get to sleep at night.  Perhaps.

grandbabies

wagon

My parents live in Arizona and I try to visit them when I can.  (Except summer, I’m done with desert summers.)  I have just as much fun with my parents as I do my kids.  We all get along (my parents & my kids) so well it’s abnormal I think.  We always thought I favored my mom’s side of the family but we found out this winter I actually look more like my dad.

I have a 12 year old cat, Squeaker.  I’m not sure how old he is even though I’ve had him since he was a kitten. I’ve lost track of time and it’s like he has always been around.  He’s 19-20 pounds and my constant companion.

In between husband, kids, grandkids, cat and camping I read and write.  I sit on the patio under the apricot tree with the husband, go on picnics up in the mountains and travel visiting friends.  In between that I cut hair and work part-time at the state deaf and hard of hearing center.  I volunteer for the SayWhatClub, I’m on the steering committee for our local HLAA chapter.  I also run a few Facebook pages and help with a few others too.  There’s rarely a dull moment which is why there are gaps in my posts and delays when I reply to comments.  It’s a busy life!

The Hard of Hearing Wand

There are times I wish I could wave a wand to make others hard of hearing for a day or two.  I’m not supposed to wish hearing loss on anyone, I know, but some people need to learn empathy.  I don’t wish on it everyone, just a few of the very difficult people I run across. I wish I could have waved it over the lady in the salon who insisted I keep answering the phone even though I got names, numbers and information wrong all the time (this was before caption phones).  I would have waved the wand over another lady, a secretary,  at an assisted living home I worked at as hairdresser.  She never would come close enough for me to hear/see her properly  like I was contagious.  Or my ex-husband who would hated to repeat and would say, “I SAID…”  And the people who won’t stop moving their heads when I’m trying to lipread them.  So maybe I’ll wave my wand around a bit here on my blog.

Here’s some things I’d specifically like hearing people to understand:

Words full holes and the mind racing to fill those holes at the sound of speech hoping it makes sense at some point.  It can be exhausting.

hearing loss looks like

See the difference?

Why hearing aids aren’t called ‘hearing miracles’.  Yes they help but they do not make my hearing perfect again.  Then you’d know why the question, “Are your ears on” makes me twitch.

ears on

Yes my ears are on.

Now that you are experiencing temporary hearing loss, try hearing someone from another room; to hear a voice and not understand most of what’s said.

in the dark

It’s like being in the dark.

How about talking on the phone with a disembodied voice (very similar to above)?  No lips to read, no body language to take cues.

hearing in the dark

Yes!  I’m still in the dark.

You like watching TV and movies?  Try it with a hearing loss and you’d know just how hateful it is without captions.

no captions

That’s all we hear on TV without captions.

 

This is for the people who think they are funny, who repeatedly say “huh” as a joke.

not funny

To feel what it’s like to be dismissed and excluded from conversation with the words “Never mind.”

never mind

Those words are a wall.

That’s just to few people.  Thank goodness the majority of the people I run across are good with accommodating me.  I keep my focus on the good people mainly and I happen to know a lot of them. Mostly I’d use the magic wand for good; to restore confidence, take away pain and give hope to more people with hearing loss.

At the ALDA convention last year in Scottsdale, the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing did give hearing loss to a number of people for a day without a wand.  They got people to agree to wearing custom made ear plugs and asked them to wear them for a day.  It was eye opening to all those who participated, giving them more empathy towards those in their lives who have hearing loss.  If you are interested, Dianna Nanez, a reporter for the Arizona Republic, wrote about her story.

What could you add to this list?

 

Acceptance of My Hearing Loss

down arrow

In 2007 my hearing took a big drop and I knew it because three year old hearing aids were not powerful enough anymore. It saddened and concerned me since I couldn’t afford new hearing aids but life continued as it had in spite of it. I needed a few more repeats than I used to and co-workers at the salon helped me with the phone more often. They helped without hesitation or questions. I had family and friends who acted as my translators while running errands around town and because it was a smaller town, people knew and accepted me. I had no idea I had such a wonderful support system in place.

support system

At the end of 2008 I moved out of state to a big city away from my support system. I moved with confidence in myself, my abilities and belief that people were helpful. That confidence took a pounding! Even though I landed a job right away, there was no one to help me with the phone anymore. Making matters worse, something in the building made my t-coils hum rendering my hearing aids useless. I took my volume control phone to work thinking that would help but words were still garbled and I couldn’t get names or numbers right. There were people who called to hear my voice and say “never mind, I’ll call back later.” (Why did I understand that!) It didn’t help having a co-worker who pressured me to answer the phone. Soon I began to loathe the phone…and the salon.

reverberaion

My hearing aids had no idea where to focus.

The salon, though beautiful, was an acoustic nightmare. My hearing aids wouldn’t function, meaning I couldn’t hear clients in my chair either. I became a boring hairdresser with nothing to say, unable to create the necessary bond with clients. Most of my first time customers didn’t come back to me. Every day I went into work a little later and more often than not I came home crying. Who knew a hearing drop would affect me this much well after it happened?

I quit after 6 months of torture. My working life as I knew it ended. Ever since I was 18 years old hair had been my anchor. If all else failed I could do hair but the wind was knocked of me here.

In one sense I withdrew. Socializing felt like a nightmare, all around me was English but it may as well have been Spanish. It was nothing but a crush of noise that didn’t make sense. I stayed home more often and started cleaning houses for money because cleaning didn’t require hearing. I became an introvert after being social most of my life.

During this time I joined the SayWhatClub again seeking solace. SWC helped me once before and I was sure it would help me again. They listened to me, they sympathized and they helped me get back on my feet again slowly but surely. I started to spend more time on my computer reading and replying to emails. To my husband it seemed like I was withdrawing from reality but it was more like healing instead.

There is a local HLAA chapter here, an advantage to living in the big city. My extrovert self sent me to a meeting. I needed people and I needed people who would understand. This was one of my best moves. I experienced CART/live event captioning for the first time. I didn’t have to hear, I could see the conversation as it happened right there on the screen. I met people who knew to face me and speak a little slower. I admired several people for their advocacy efforts and decided I wanted to be like them when I grew up. I became a regular at the meetings and it wasn’t long before I was part of their steering committee.

The meetings are held at the local Deaf and Hard of Hearing center. I started attending their hearing loss classes and captioned lectures/workshops. Coming in from the outside world, I felt the weight of hearing loss fall off my shoulders. I discovered a place safe for me.

A few years later I started attending hearing loss conventions and WOW! Here was another world created just for those with hearing loss, an ultimate place to learn and socialize without fear. There were loops and captions in every workshop making it easy to be there. I had tons of energy leftover to hang out with new friends.

support

The HLAA convention in Rhode Island had a workshop called Hard of Hearing and Exceptional: Landing the Job and Achieving Career Success led by Malik El-Amin. I remember him telling us to be in control of our hearing loss, don’t let our hearing loss control us. Control my hearing loss? My hearing loss ruled my world. How would I ever own it? Even though I couldn’t grasp the concept at the time, those words continued to bounce around in my head.

I continued with my hearing loss groups. I achieved a small victory in getting captions at a workshop. I became a hard of hearing assistant at the Deaf and Hard of Hearing center teaching hearing loss classes to others. I attend workshops on advocacy and go to the state capitol to show support at the legislative level. I also got back into doing hair out of the salon this time by going to home bound people’s houses. Even if some of those things put me out of my comfort zone, I pushed myself forward.

None of this is new to my writing, you may have seen it throughout my posts. What’s new is I’m confessing acceptance of my hearing loss and I wouldn’t change my journey. I’m comfortable with it and I learned to be in charge of it. I’ve been through hell because of it but I can’t hate my hearing loss anymore. This is difficult to explain because few people reach this level. I tried to talk about it once and botched it. Hopefully I don’t sound like I’m from another planet this time.

In short, here’s my hindsight:

  • I realized some years ago that most everyone has something to deal with; depression, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, ADD, hearing loss and so much more. I’m not the only one trying to figure how to live well with an affliction. Sometimes we feel like we are the only ones in the world with a cross to bear but we aren’t. Talking to others about their issues keeps a balance.
  • In the last 5 or 6 years I read every book on hearing loss I could get my hands on. I joined hearing loss groups and attended their conventions. I feel less isolated being around others who also have hearing loss. Through them, I acquired a nationwide network of people with hearing loss.
  • Without hearing loss, I would never have met some of the neatest people I know. If I had to chose my hearing or my friends, I’d keep my hearing loss. I treasure the people it brought me to.
  • I took a lipreading class. It’s hard and I’m not anywhere near a perfect lipreader but it helped. I started teaching the class. Repetition is a good teacher. Let go of hearing/seeing every word, catch what you can and let the rest go. If nothing came through, ask for a repeat or better yet, a rephrase. Letting go of hearing every single word took a lot of weight off my shoulders.
  • I learned to advocate for myself personally and in public. It gave me confidence. I learned to advocate through workshops, classes and support groups.
  • Volunteering for hearing loss organizations gave my hearing loss a purpose. There are an estimated 48 million people out there with hearing loss. Many of those people could use help and guidance of some sort. After you’ve learned a thing or two, return the favor and pass it on. My volunteer efforts looked good on my resume and I was hired to be a hard of hearing assistant for the state. Your volunteer efforts could lead you to a magical place.
  • Relax. It took me years to relax in social settings. Once my confidence built up I relaxed more. The less I stress, the more I hear with my ears and my eyes.
  • I don’t have to be a part of everything. I pick and chose what I’ll do and won’t do. Am I too tired for speechreading? Then no. Will the sports movie my husband wants to see have captions, no? Then I’ll pass on that. I’m not interested in extreme sports anyway. Should it be accessible? Yes but this one’s not my fight.

There’s probably more to this list. It’s been hard to put my finger on just what brought me around to complete acceptance. It doesn’t mean it’s all a breeze now. I get mad and sometimes I get hurt. The difference is I snap out of it quicker because I know what to do. I take the experience and think, “What can I do to make this better next time?” If I can’t make it better, maybe it’s not worth my time and effort.

There could be another big drop in my hearing in the future. That would mean more anxiety as I feel my way around, figuring out what works best again. It will shake up the world as I know it. I’ll have my fits and I’ll have to reach yet another level of acceptance to some degree. However, I already have super role models in place so I won’t be so alone should it happen again.

20140804_151

So be upfront about your hearing loss. Talk about it. Learn about it. The more you know the easier it is to work with. The more people you know, the more help there is available.