A few weeks ago I posted It Is What It Is sharing about having meniere’s disease and hearing loss in one ear. Well, the experience did not end there. I thought I’d give you the “rest of the story”.
At the time I wrote about discovering I had “sudden severe hearing loss” in my right ear, my doctor thought we might be able to recapture some of the hearing with an increase in my medication and a dose of high powered steroids. For two weeks I doubled up on medication and took a high dose of prednisone. While the prednisone made every bit of inflammation and ache or pain in my body disappear, I couldn’t tell any difference in my hearing. I went to my follow-up appointment only to learn that the hearing hadn’t improved and possibly had gotten even worse. Sigh. When she showed me the results of the hearing test I simply resigned myself to moving forward and simply managing it. That was only for a split second until my doctor suggested it was time for a hearing aid.
A what? What did she say? Did I actually hear that correctly? Did she say I needed a hearing aid? It’s only one ear, right? I can just use my other ear. Right? Plus, I haven’t even reached the 5-0 year mark yet. I was crushed. Or maybe it was just my vanity that was crushed. I just wasn’t ready to go there. To need something. To feel so old.
Then my doctor said something that seemed to stick with me. She said, “You have no idea how hard you are working to hear.” She also said that if I could actually hear real noises that the constant tinnitus I have would not be as noticeable. Those comments actually got my attention. I thought about those two things. I had to be honest and admit that going out to dinner had become quite bothersome. Eating out in restaurants could be particularly difficult. Eating out in a restaurant with other people and having to carry on a conversation was especially difficult. Not hearing and understanding a waiter is one thing. However, not being able to carry on a conversation with the person next to you is another. The worry about whether people noticed and being so self conscience about it was also pretty tiresome.
After meeting with my doctor, I met with the audiologist and went over some options. I still wasn’t completely on board. I just wasn’t ready to bite the bullet. I felt bummed that I needed something like this forever and it was completely out of my control. I left the office, and immediately texted my two high school girlfriends. They have become my “go tos” for the kind of stuff you would normally share with your mother. They responded immediately and, of course, made me laugh. That next weekend, I was to be in the mountains with college sorority sisters. We hadn’t all been together in years and years. The texts had been flying in anticipation of the weekend. . . with some cracks about being old and aging . . . you know those kind of comments. Well, I was able to top their complaints, telling them all that at least they didn’t have to get a hearing aid!
Since we hadn’t been together in so long, you can only imagine the catching up we had to do. Since they knew of my new “depressing” news, they helped me make the decision to suck it up. First of all, I felt as if I was always a second behind listening to stories being shared, felt as if I was working really hard to hear all the good stuff being said AND these girls were also big cheerleaders to get on with it.
After doing a little research and trying to work through our insurance, I was back meeting with the audiologist and ordering my “new ear” as I have named it. I choose to now see myself as one of my all time favorite TV characters from growing up. Jaime Sommers in The Bionic Woman was one of my idols growing up. I watched her solve some mystery and rescue some poor soul every Wednesday night. If you don’t know the show you are just far too young! She was amazing with her bionic leg, super strength and bionic ear. She could hear everything!
And, finally, I can too. I find myself, when wearing my “new ear” being able to hear all sorts of things! Since we are still working on adjustments, I think some things might actually be a little too loud. Initially, the sound of my own voice sounded SO loud! I felt as if I needed to whisper. I think I hear things I didn’t notice before. I hear the pings of texts coming through on my phone, the blinker on my car and the clipping of my dog’s toenails on the hardwoods. I hear my boys’ talking to me from another room. I hear the waiter the first time offering the specials. When teaching fitness classes, I’ve learned to adjust the volume of my music since I can hear it so much better!
These are all things I have noticed immediately. As far as my family, The Husband tells me he thinks he also needs a hearing aid. I guess that’s supposed to make me feel better? I admitted to The First son that I needed one, after making him promise not to laugh at me. I was the brunt of lots of his jokes all summer. The Third son’s first question was, “How much did that cost?” Typical. I think the Second Son is none the wiser. I’m waiting to see if he notices that I can actually hear and understand his mumblings and under the breath remarks . . .
I think I’m finally over the stigma of needing and having a hearing aid. I mean, look at what I have. It’s a Phonak Audeo V.
See how small this thing is! And check out how teeny tiny the battery is!
I have found that no one has noticed it. I can’t see it while wearing it. I even forget it’s there! So much so, that on the second day of having it I decided to take a bath. At the very last second I decided NOT to dunk my head under the bath water. I’m not really sure why, but I’m so glad I did because. . . I realized I still had on “the ear”! That would have been a very costly mistake! THEN, the very next day I jumped in the shower and AGAIN realized I had “the ear” in! Yikes, again.
Have I noticed any downsides? I don’t think so. The only thing that I can’t do with it, besides swim, bathe and shower, is wear head phones in both ears. For me, it’s actually no big deal. I had stopped using an earbud in my right ear forever ago because it would only sound muffled.
I have found that my doctor was definitely correct. I don’t think I realized how hard I was working to hear. I see that now. Also, the distraction from the tinnitus has decreased, even when I am not wearing it. That is a huge improvement for me. I’ve seen only an upside to getting “my ear”. I can jump, run, teach classes, workout and sweat just as much without even thinking about it. It’s been a game changer.
If you are fence sitting like I was, embarrassed, worried, or feeling bummed for needing a “new ear”, I hope you realize “It Is What It Is” and it’s time to do the research and bite the bullet.
I really want to know if you watched The Bionic Woman! Lindsay Wagner will forever be one of my favorite TV actresses. More importantly, how’s your hearing? Take care of it!
Enjoy Your Day!