Hearing Loss- It’s All Relative. Can You Relate?

I had another hearing loss snafu. Have you ever had issues with your own hearing loss technology? My issue began with a personal hearing loss technology issue when I developed an issue with my new Oticon ConnectClip. The Oticon ConnectClip is a very innovative device. It allows users to connect Oticon OPN hearing aids to any Bluetooth product, establishing the ability to stream from non-apple products such as smart phones, computers and televisions. It also works as a personal microphone, helping users stream the voice of a lecturer and hear better in public places where there is a great deal of background noise. My audiologist suggested that ConnectClip might be a good replacement for my ReSound mini mic.

So I willing and hopefully decided to give ConnectClip a two-week trial. I made my first attempt at using the device at a lecture. The speaker agreed to attach ConnectClip to his jacket and off I went to my seat, ready to listen. Though his voice was streamed right into my ears, I noticed every 3 to 5 minutes the ConnectClip winked out. Each time, I reset the device to restart streaming. At first, I thought I was doing something wrong, but when the device repeatedly winked out, I knew there was a problem. I tried the device on two other occasions, both in noisy restaurants, and experienced the same winking-out problem.

My audiologist quickly saw me for a trouble-shoot session. After going through several steps of re-pairing and ensuring no other problems with the winking-out issue, he contacted Oticon and was told this problem had never been reported. Oticon suggested there might be an internal problem with my ConnectClip and asked to send it back for review or replacement.

So now, I wait. Wait for a new ConnectClip to be returned to me. When I returned home from the audiologist, I shared my frustrations with my husband about all I go through to hear. And how, despite today’s technological help, the hindrances I still have in my ability to hear. I ranted about the lack of discovery of a scientific breakthrough to help those dealing with hearing loss. Why should it be that in 2018, people still suffer from hearing loss?

My husband listened as he always does with patience and understanding. When I finished talking, he pointed out how technology has advanced, and the options I have today that were not available ten years ago. He shared how I hear better in noisy environments than even two years ago. Listening to my husband helped settle me down, but I still felt restricted by my hearing loss to engage in the hearing world. My hearing loss felt like it was out of my control.

The next day I opened the paper to find that Stephen Hawking died. Dr. Hawking was a famous English Theoretical Physicist who lived a long and full life with ALS. His disease began when he was a PhD candidate and over the years, he lost all motor abilities as well as the ability to speak. He lived many productive years in a motorized wheelchair, heavily reliant on technology to aid him in simple tasks that most of us do without even thinking. Determination and obstinacy kept him moving forward and never looking back.

I thought about Stephen Hawking that day, the pictures of him in his electronic wheelchair, the speeches he gave in spite of not being able to talk, how he kept true to his passion, physics and cosmetology, against the odds of enormous personal care issues. While he had his hearing, he did not have the ability to walk or move on his own. I am sure there were times when his disability led to depression and moments of throwing out the why-me question. But Nothing stopped him or slowed him down. He accepted his disability, never letting it define him. In spite of enormous odds stacked against him, he opened the world’s eyes to the physics of the universe.

We can all take a lesson from this great and productive man. For me, he was a symbol of how to live with a disability with graciousness and style and the importance of trudging forward no matter what the fates throw your way.

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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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