Entering the World of Hearing- Learning I Have a Hearing Loss- June 1, 2016 (Part One)

On June 1, 2016, I went to an audiology appointment.

I arranged for this appointment for one simple reason.

My sweet hubby and I had an ongoing conversation since we met, at 18 years old, that sometimes when he talks to me I cannot hear him clearly. I assumed it was because he was mumbling.

I had heard other wives share that their husbands sometimes mumble.

So of course, I was sure this was the same for us.

That weekend before I went to my appointment we were sitting in our back yard and "the" conversation came up again.

After this many years we were actually smiling about it.

Only this time it was different.

This time, my husband said to me, "Do you ever think you hear differently from the rest of the world?"

"I ask," he said, "because we have talked about this since we met as kids, and now I wonder if you have always heard differently than the rest of the world."

I smiled at him and said, "I don't think I do.  But I am happy to find out!"

I do admit his words made me pause and really reflect on if that was possible.

The first thing that came to my mind was an incident in which both of my ear drums ruptured when I was a young mom.

Maybe I suffered some damage from that, and had a mild hearing loss.

Maybe since I am getting older, that damage was getting worse, and maybe I am losing my hearing.

I did not notice any difference.

But then things can come on subtly and often we are all the last to know.

It was worth checking into.

So on Monday I called our ENT for an appointment.

They were able to see me for a hearing test on Wednesday, June 1.

I was confident this was just one of those things you do to rule out that you are not missing something or that it would be minor.

After all, I had lived a long life and not once had anyone ever suggested this to me.

Surely someone would have caught along the way.

Yes, learning was a struggle.

But life circumstances can account for that.

Losing a father at 2, and the shuffling around from school to school in the years that followed. Any child would have difficulty learning under those circumstances.

Besides, I did finally figure it out. So it was all good.

Also, I was sure it could not be possible that I had a significant hearing loss because I raised 5 children.

I not only raised them, I also home schooled all five children.

I was quite certain that in my years of parenting we would have noticed that I am hard of hearing.

I had heard my children cry right?  I heard their coos. I had to! I mean, I heard them.

I heard their first words. I did not miss these mile stones. (When I finally heard what real children cries sound like, real coos, and my children's real voices, I cried.  Wow! SO beautiful!)

I had accomplished so much in my life. How could I do this if I did not hear like the rest of the world?

I was a teacher. I was a coach.

I started non profits that were set up to help parents when they were new to the diagnosis of having a child with Down syndrome.

I spent countless hours on the phone directing the efforts. Granted, communication on a phone was always hard. But doesn't everyone struggle with communication on a phone? Mix up words?

In my mind, if I had a hearing loss, I could not do these things. There simply would be no way.

So I went into that appointment confident that I would come out with a sheet of paper that supported my theory that my husband sometimes mumbles.

Perhaps, my ear drums rupturing had left me with a mild hearing loss, that the doctors would say, yes, ask your husband to speak up because you have a mild loss, and this will help both of you.

That is not at all what took place on June 1, 2016.

What happened in that appointment changed the course of my life forever.

Not only did they inform me that I do not hear like the rest of the world, they informed me that I have a severe hearing loss.

As she told me this, my thoughts went right to when I had my ear drums rupture as a young mom.

My mind raced to think of all of the times in my life I must have damaged my ears from listening to music, or maybe cleaning them.

Severe? What happened to mild?

I felt my mind go into shock.

This had to be a mistake.

She was very sweet.

I can still remember her warm smile reflecting back at me as my heart raced to understand and quickly determine what event in my life damaged my hearing.

She very calmly, and warmly said,
"You have absolutely no damage. Which is very good news. Your ears are in perfect health. I can see one very tiny tiny scar in your left ear, where you likely had an ear infection as a child, but that is it. This will be helpful to you when you use your hearing aids."

Hearing aids?

What, what about my husband speaking up?

What about asking him to stop mumbling?

My mind continued to race.

Is this a scam? Is this how they get people to buy hearing aids?

This is not possible. I hear. I can hear you right now. I hear you telling me this.

She went on.

"Your hearing results reflect to us that this is likely genetic, and that you were either born this way, which is what we believe, or you lost your hearing at a very young age, and you have just never known anything different. We are going to have to rule out a benign tumor, because you have a severe hearing loss. I can assure you though, you do not have a benign tumor, so I don't want you to even worry about that."

She was smiling the entire time she said these words to me. Almost like she was excited for me.

At that time, I did not understand.

I do now.

Part 2 Coming Soon. Getting Fitted For Hearing Aids- June 6, 2016

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