I’ve written quite a lot about the things that can go wrong with living with a hearing loss. I’ve touched on technology issues as well as problems that occur with relationships, with socializing, or doing business in the hearing world. But once in a while, everything falls into place, people speak up, your hearing aids and cochlear implants are perfectly tuned, and you can hear.

I belong to a neighborhood women’s group. We meet monthly to discuss agreed upon topics including politics, books, food, and where to find the best dresses in town. I joined the group several years ago to meet people and to socialize more. Participating in this group has helped me make new friends and avoid the tendency I have in isolating myself.

When first joining the group, I had trouble hearing the other members. Most women’s voices fall into the range of a soprano or alto, the high-pitched sounds that can make hearing difficult for me. To make matters worse, I was reluctant to tell people about my hearing loss. Yet when I did, everyone was accepting and accommodating to my needs. Back then, I was still wearing my ReSound Hearing aids. Because of the severity of my hearing loss, I had to use my mini mic. It was the only way to follow the conversation that sometimes flew by at breakneck speed.  Those early meetings were tough. I couldn’t understand some of what was being said and ended up frustrated. There were times when I sat through meetings in silence because I feared participating and saying things that didn’t make sense.

At one of the gatherings, I met a woman with a conduction defect who had struggled with hearing for years. We exchanged information about hearing aids and accessories that worked for each of us. She once commented that she enjoyed talking with me because I was one of the few people who understood what she was going through.

The other day I was out for a walk and ran into the woman who heads our women’s group. She asked if I had surgery for my hearing. When I said no, she seemed surprised. “You’re hearing better,” she told me. “I’ve noticed that you’re saying more at meetings. You seem more comfortable in the group.”

How right she is. I now look forward to upcoming meetings. My new Oticon OPNs have helped me follow our spirited banter. Though I don’t understand every word, I can gather enough context to make sense of the discourse. I find myself jumping into discussions with ease and confidence.

It’s a great feeling to be able to hear. Good hearing empowers us to conduct business and communicate with our friends and family. When our hearing aids and cochlear implants are in tip-top shape, we become members of the hearing world, able to listen to each other, to music, and to sounds that connect us all.

To My Readers,

I will be away next week to attend a wedding. The next column of Meandering Through A Hearing World will appear during the week of May 28.

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Linda Bilodeau

I’ve grappled with hearing loss since 1978. Through it all, I’ve faced periods of denial, acceptance, curiosity, trust and hope. But more often than not, I’ve felt annoyed, angry and frightened. I’ve encountered despair, loneliness and envy. I’ve experienced panic attacks. I’ve met understanding people, kind souls who helped me a great deal and others who thought I had nothing short of an invisible plague. As a way of coming to terms with my hearing loss, I’ve decided to put my feelings about my disability down on paper. My hope is to better understand myself and perhaps you’ll find a little something in my meanderings that will help you, too.

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