Hearing Loss Experiences - Can you find humor in some of it?

Posted by Julie, Volunteer Mentor @julieo4, Jul 20, 2021

People with hearing loss can easily mishear and respond to something out of context. Obviously, this can be a big problem. Most often it's not. How about sharing some of the experiences we have had. I believe that being able to laugh and find humor in some of our experiences can be healthy. What do you think?

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Hearing Loss group.

@jshdma

Thank you, Julie. I have not yet reached the point of using any aids. But I know I probably should be and it feels very depressing. As a musician, it marks me as failing in some way. Also, it is interesting that opthamology seems far more advance than audiology– e.g., with contact lenses your poor sight is completely hidden. Also, glasses seem to be a kind of fashion item, unlike hearing aids, which seem to be associated with aging. Altogether it is just depressing.

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It's a real shame that so much stigma is attached to hearing loss. It's also a shame that hearing instrument advertisements tend to market denial by telling us we should look for invisible products. My hearing loss was diagnosed when I was in my 20s. I thought I was the only person in the world, who was my age, who had this issue. My entire outlook changed when I was introduced to the organization that is now known as the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), as it introduced me to thousands of other people like myself. Many were my age. I encourage you to check out HLAA at: http://www.hearingloss.org Explore the website, and check out their magazine. One of the recent issues was on music.

You may also be interested in learning about another organization at http://www.musicianswithhearingloss.org

Hearing technology has come a very long ways in the digital era. While hearing aids only amplified sound years ago when I first wore them, they do so much more today. They can also be 'fashion statements' believe it or not as they come in colors and patterns. Obviously, not everyone's choice, but they are available. I chose turquoise!

Yes, I went though depression, frustration, embarrassment and everything you say you are experiencing. It still happens sometimes. I thank my involvement in HLAA for turning my life around. It helped more than I can possibly explain, to meet other people like me who could validate my feelings about what was happening to me. It also helped me learn how to explain to family, friends and co-workers what it was that I needed to remain comfortably in the hearing world.

I am sure you know that noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss, and that protecting whatever level of hearing you have from getting worse is extremely important. Music, depending on variety, is often experienced at decibel levels above the danger point.

Do you know any other people personally who experience hearing loss?

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@julieo4

It's a real shame that so much stigma is attached to hearing loss. It's also a shame that hearing instrument advertisements tend to market denial by telling us we should look for invisible products. My hearing loss was diagnosed when I was in my 20s. I thought I was the only person in the world, who was my age, who had this issue. My entire outlook changed when I was introduced to the organization that is now known as the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), as it introduced me to thousands of other people like myself. Many were my age. I encourage you to check out HLAA at: http://www.hearingloss.org Explore the website, and check out their magazine. One of the recent issues was on music.

You may also be interested in learning about another organization at http://www.musicianswithhearingloss.org

Hearing technology has come a very long ways in the digital era. While hearing aids only amplified sound years ago when I first wore them, they do so much more today. They can also be 'fashion statements' believe it or not as they come in colors and patterns. Obviously, not everyone's choice, but they are available. I chose turquoise!

Yes, I went though depression, frustration, embarrassment and everything you say you are experiencing. It still happens sometimes. I thank my involvement in HLAA for turning my life around. It helped more than I can possibly explain, to meet other people like me who could validate my feelings about what was happening to me. It also helped me learn how to explain to family, friends and co-workers what it was that I needed to remain comfortably in the hearing world.

I am sure you know that noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss, and that protecting whatever level of hearing you have from getting worse is extremely important. Music, depending on variety, is often experienced at decibel levels above the danger point.

Do you know any other people personally who experience hearing loss?

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To Julie– thank you so much for your friendly, understanding comments. In fact, I do not know (or at least am not aware of) anyone else with hearing loss. As said, I am a musician, and there are numerous people in the audience at my performances who are probably much older than I am, and I have never seen any of them with a hearing aid. And speaking to them, they appear to hear everything. I'm sure I could have a much better attitude, but as someone who has taken much care of my health in general, and never went to rock concerts or similar noisy events, this comes a a great shock.

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@jshdma

To Julie– thank you so much for your friendly, understanding comments. In fact, I do not know (or at least am not aware of) anyone else with hearing loss. As said, I am a musician, and there are numerous people in the audience at my performances who are probably much older than I am, and I have never seen any of them with a hearing aid. And speaking to them, they appear to hear everything. I'm sure I could have a much better attitude, but as someone who has taken much care of my health in general, and never went to rock concerts or similar noisy events, this comes a a great shock.

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It might help to know that nearly 20% of the population in the United States has some degree of hearing loss. That includes people of all ages. You are not alone.

I don't know where you live, but if there is a chapter of HLAA in your area, seek them out. Many chapters have started meeting on Zoom due to the pandemic. The good news is that many of those meetings are open to anyone who would like to attend them.

There is a big difference between being Deaf or being hard of hearing. Deaf people (capital D Deaf), generally use manual communication and consider themselves part of a unique culture. They are a small minority as in fewer than 5% of the 'hearing impaired' population, but they get a lot of attention. That can be misleading because people think we are all like that.

Hard of hearing people, in general, want to remain in the hearing world. It's up to them to learn how to do that.

Have you had your hearing tested by a clinical audiologist? If so, what have they recommended for you?

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@julieo4

It might help to know that nearly 20% of the population in the United States has some degree of hearing loss. That includes people of all ages. You are not alone.

I don't know where you live, but if there is a chapter of HLAA in your area, seek them out. Many chapters have started meeting on Zoom due to the pandemic. The good news is that many of those meetings are open to anyone who would like to attend them.

There is a big difference between being Deaf or being hard of hearing. Deaf people (capital D Deaf), generally use manual communication and consider themselves part of a unique culture. They are a small minority as in fewer than 5% of the 'hearing impaired' population, but they get a lot of attention. That can be misleading because people think we are all like that.

Hard of hearing people, in general, want to remain in the hearing world. It's up to them to learn how to do that.

Have you had your hearing tested by a clinical audiologist? If so, what have they recommended for you?

Jump to this post

Thank you, Julie. Yes, I have been tested and have a graph showing the downward path. It's depressing, for several reasons. One is that as a professional musician, I can never bring my instrument to the volume where it is often needed to be. I almost don't need to have testing– I know what is happening. It seems to me that opthamology is far more advanced than audiology. I have worn glasses my whole life, but then, millions of people wear glasses. Plus, , there are contact lenses. Cataracts are removed. Correcting bad hearing seems to be much less successful. I read about all the problems with hearing aids, and they are far from invisible. But I appreciate your advice.

REPLY
@jshdma

Thank you, Julie. I have not yet reached the point of using any aids. But I know I probably should be and it feels very depressing. As a musician, it marks me as failing in some way. Also, it is interesting that opthamology seems far more advance than audiology– e.g., with contact lenses your poor sight is completely hidden. Also, glasses seem to be a kind of fashion item, unlike hearing aids, which seem to be associated with aging. Altogether it is just depressing.

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Please do not be depressed! Think happy – as without aides we would truly be depressed.

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@coppermoon

Please do not be depressed! Think happy – as without aides we would truly be depressed.

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Yes, coppermoon. You are right. But it's hard to implement, or, to be what you are not.

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@jshdma

Yes, coppermoon. You are right. But it's hard to implement, or, to be what you are not.

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But you are still the same person, just with some handicaps – some are visible in us and some are not!

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Better if all aids WERE visible…if everyone could easily see that you're wearing an aid, they might be quicker to speak clearly.
I was an active amateur musician when Meniere's became a real problem with hearing and balance nearly 40 years ago. Because it wasn't my profession, I quit playing and listening, took up various art and textile arts projects to fulfill my need to be creative. It took me over 30 years to get to a place where I'm somewhat comfortable listening to music, as long as it's music I know (so that I can fill in from memory what's missing).
Yes, you're correct that visual aids are many, while hearing assistance lags far behind. I was close to legally blind until I was in my 60s; after cataract surgery, I had 20/20 vision, which did drop to 20/60–but that's better than what I had WITH glasses prior to the surgery! It's been over 10 years, but every day I'm thankful for being able to look out and actually see things! Due to Meniere's, my hearing problem isn't as much that I can't hear as that I have too much distortion to understand what I do hear. If I'm watching the person carefully and expecting to hear what they say, things work, but when they turn their head or look down, I'm totally lost. I need the visual clues to piece together with the garbled speech I hear.

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@jshdma

Thank you, Julie. Yes, I have been tested and have a graph showing the downward path. It's depressing, for several reasons. One is that as a professional musician, I can never bring my instrument to the volume where it is often needed to be. I almost don't need to have testing– I know what is happening. It seems to me that opthamology is far more advanced than audiology. I have worn glasses my whole life, but then, millions of people wear glasses. Plus, , there are contact lenses. Cataracts are removed. Correcting bad hearing seems to be much less successful. I read about all the problems with hearing aids, and they are far from invisible. But I appreciate your advice.

Jump to this post

It's amazing to know that prior to the 1980s very little research was being done on communication disorders; hearing loss in particular. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) did not have an institute for this until 1988. Other institutes within NIH had been in place for over a century. And, it wasn't until HLAA was incorporated in 1979 as Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc. (SHHH) that people with partial deafness; the hard of hearing crowd, had an identity of their own, separate from the deaf population. (The name change took place in 2006 to allow more visibility on the internet.)

Because the hearing mechanism is placed deep in the skull, the prevailing medical attitude back then was that little research could be done in that area of the body except on cadavers. That all started to change in the 1960s when Graeme Clark of Australia developed the concept of being able to electronically stimulate the auditory nerve to get signals to the human brain for interpretation. The House Ear Institute in California was also pioneering this technology. This is the Cochlear Implant. (CI)

The prevailing belief was that the auditory nerve was 'dead or dying', thus the brain did not get what it needed to understand speech/sounds. The CI research has evolved amazingly over the past 50 years. Most importantly, researchers learned that most people with hearing loss had a live and functional auditory nerve. It was the tiny hair cells in the cochlea that were dying, thus most with hearing loss experience it as happening progressively. By bypassing the cochlea to stimulate the auditory nerve, they have been able to bring back hearing. CI's started as single channel technology and are now many times that. At first they only delivered sound. Today they deliver speech to most recipients. Now, that is truly a modern miracle. And, of course, hearing aids have come a long, long way in this time frame going from analog to digital, adding BlueTooth streaming, etc.

We all know that eye glasses have been around far longer than hearing devices. Correcting vision is done externally for the most part. It's hard to compare, isn't it? I feel so fortunate to be livng in a time where I've been able to benefit from the advanced technology of the last few decades.

We've all heard of Helen Keller, the woman who was both deaf and blind, and all she achieved in her life. One of my favorite quotes from her is "I am both deaf and blind. Blindness removes us from things; deafness removes us from people". How do you feel about that statement?

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@julieo4

It's amazing to know that prior to the 1980s very little research was being done on communication disorders; hearing loss in particular. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) did not have an institute for this until 1988. Other institutes within NIH had been in place for over a century. And, it wasn't until HLAA was incorporated in 1979 as Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc. (SHHH) that people with partial deafness; the hard of hearing crowd, had an identity of their own, separate from the deaf population. (The name change took place in 2006 to allow more visibility on the internet.)

Because the hearing mechanism is placed deep in the skull, the prevailing medical attitude back then was that little research could be done in that area of the body except on cadavers. That all started to change in the 1960s when Graeme Clark of Australia developed the concept of being able to electronically stimulate the auditory nerve to get signals to the human brain for interpretation. The House Ear Institute in California was also pioneering this technology. This is the Cochlear Implant. (CI)

The prevailing belief was that the auditory nerve was 'dead or dying', thus the brain did not get what it needed to understand speech/sounds. The CI research has evolved amazingly over the past 50 years. Most importantly, researchers learned that most people with hearing loss had a live and functional auditory nerve. It was the tiny hair cells in the cochlea that were dying, thus most with hearing loss experience it as happening progressively. By bypassing the cochlea to stimulate the auditory nerve, they have been able to bring back hearing. CI's started as single channel technology and are now many times that. At first they only delivered sound. Today they deliver speech to most recipients. Now, that is truly a modern miracle. And, of course, hearing aids have come a long, long way in this time frame going from analog to digital, adding BlueTooth streaming, etc.

We all know that eye glasses have been around far longer than hearing devices. Correcting vision is done externally for the most part. It's hard to compare, isn't it? I feel so fortunate to be livng in a time where I've been able to benefit from the advanced technology of the last few decades.

We've all heard of Helen Keller, the woman who was both deaf and blind, and all she achieved in her life. One of my favorite quotes from her is "I am both deaf and blind. Blindness removes us from things; deafness removes us from people". How do you feel about that statement?

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Helen Keller's comment is exactly right. Having studied and taught the medical history of the great musicians (from Bach on), I note that there have been numerous blind musicians (organists, e.g.), who have had successful careers and good lives. Deafness spells the end to any performance career (e.g., Beethoven), although composing is still possible. And deafness does certainlhy cut you off. I have had blind students in my classes, and they seem to do OK, and people like them and try to include and help them. I have never had a hearing-impaired student, so it must be much less common than blindness or visually impaired students.

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@jshdma

Helen Keller's comment is exactly right. Having studied and taught the medical history of the great musicians (from Bach on), I note that there have been numerous blind musicians (organists, e.g.), who have had successful careers and good lives. Deafness spells the end to any performance career (e.g., Beethoven), although composing is still possible. And deafness does certainlhy cut you off. I have had blind students in my classes, and they seem to do OK, and people like them and try to include and help them. I have never had a hearing-impaired student, so it must be much less common than blindness or visually impaired students.

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How would you identify a student with hearing loss if they didn't tell you they had a hearing loss? If they did tell you, would you think less of them?

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@julieo4

How would you identify a student with hearing loss if they didn't tell you they had a hearing loss? If they did tell you, would you think less of them?

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I taught university students. Presumably a student with hearing loss would be wearing a hearing aid, just as a person with impaired vision would be wearing glasses (usually).. Or, he might always sit in front in order to hear better. A deaf student would never be in a my class, since he could not hear the lectures. I do not think less of any person with a handicap; if anything, they get credit for working against their disadvantage. I do not think people would think less of me. But I know that a musician wearing a hearing aid is self-identified as deficient in his own field. Already, the need to adjust playing my instrument so to avoid higher volumes basically means that I cannot practice my profession properly. Thank you for your interest.

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