A bit of a different topic on the blog tonight – away from all the travel and theme park talk! I didn’t think I would have the confidence to write about this subject on my blog but honestly, I don’t want to hide something is actually a part of my identity. And after various hospital visits this year, I’ve come to learn a lot more about where my hearing loss has come from and how to deal with it.
A short history into my hearing loss: I’ve always been diagnosed as a kid with High Frequency Hearing Loss, and from this I would say my childhood has been somewhat difficult in terms of misunderstanding the world around me & having a wide variety of friendship fall-outs from my misunderstanding of situations. I’ve been bullied for the way I talked and coming across as dumb in a variety of subjects at school. It’s amazing how one psychologist actually told my parents I wouldn’t make it past Year 2 at primary school yet here I am, 27 (almost 28) years old with a career in Marketing, achieved a 2:1 degree and even more qualifications!
It’s only recently (after several hospital appointments and an MRI scan) that I have discovered I have a genetic disorder which has caused my hearing loss since birth. I have what is known as bilateral sensorineural hearing loss which is caused by a genetic disorder of my inner ear. This has damaged the nerves which are not able to give signals to my brain to help me hear at a normal range. Effectively my inner ear anatomy has developed differently to everyone else and in turn has caused my hearing to be affected in both ears. It is more high frequencies that I struggle with the most so soft sounds, whispers, female voices & conversations in an environment with a lot of background noise, but I can continue to live my life as normal.
Even though I got told by various audiologists that hearing aids won’t help me, in actual fact, it’s the complete opposite and I will be getting some in due course. Of course, my disability, whilst hidden, has certainly given me a lot of challenges, especially when it comes to people perceiving me. And in particular there’s 3 misconceptions about me and my hearing loss that I want to debunk. I don’t want the world to treat me any differently, just have more of an understanding about the struggles that I have to contend with on a day to day basis. Believe me, my hearing can be great one day and then terrible the next.
Misconception #1: I’m ignorant
Whilst I’m sure there are people who probably don’t assume this about me but in the past I have found people can have a full blown chat with me and I won’t even realise they are talking to me – this is particularly prevalent when I’m at work completing a project. I am not ignoring you or coming across as being rude, generally if there’s a lot of background noise and your voice is on the quiet side, I will struggle to hear you. The only way I’d be able to focus is via lip reading. Yes, you might need to grab my attention more by repeating my name etc but it’s better than assuming I’m ignoring you and getting pissed off in the process. I will apologise if I don’t hear you at first glance – just be patient and I will catch up!
Misconception #2: Distance myself from others
This sort of fits in with my social anxiety but sometimes I find it difficult to get involved in conversations when there’s a lot going on, especially when I cannot hear everybody in the convo from lots of background noise etc. Sometimes I don’t want to be that person who has to ask people to repeat themselves, whether that is because I am too shy to ask or I’m feeling overwhelmed by a social situation. However I don’t want anyone to assume I don’t want to be involved with their group conversations. I find it difficult coping with social situations as a whole and with my added hearing loss, it makes it more of a challenge. Sometimes a little bit of patience goes a long way to helping me out!
Misconception #3: I’m more deaf that I actually am
This one in particular is probably the most prevalent in my life. Understandably with any kind of hearing loss, nobody really knows how much I can hear apart from myself. However shouting at the top of your voice is not necessary. Speak as normal unless I ask you to speak up slightly if I cannot hear what you are saying. My hearing loss in particular is fairly mild therefore I can still hear at a good range but require a bit of assistance with softer sounds and background noise. Also please don’t get put off if I’m lip reading, it’s something I do rely on at times to understand a conversation – there’s nothing in your teeth or on your lips, I promise!!
Hopefully this has given you a little more insight into my own personal hearing loss. Maybe you have a friend or family member with hearing loss, or suffers from the same genetic disorder I have, feel free to ask me any questions – I won’t bite! Just remember that we are all human, and should be treated the same as everyone else. 🙂
That’s all for now!