Lift the Burdens of Hearing Loss Stress

A while back, my audiologist and I determined that my ear molds did not fit properly. I was hearing whines and whistles between normal sounds, an annoyance that often happens to those who wear aids. To fix the problem my aids had to be sent back to the factory for a mold rebuilding. I’ve been without my new hearing aids since May 24. I’m currently wearing my ReSound aids, and I’ve noticed huge differences in my hearing. I’m asking people to repeat, because the sound isn’t clear. Background noise is once again difficult to cope with. Though my mini mic has helped, I have reverted to wanting isolation, to shut out the hearing world and cocoon in a place where I will hear.

My audiologist isn’t sure when my hearing aids will be returned, but he’s hoping it will be sometime in the coming week. I pray that he is right. In the meantime, I’m left dealing with aids that are not helping me.

On Memorial Day, I sat with a good friend at a barbeque and talked with her about my hearing dilemma. She’s a wonderful lady, who doesn’t let much bother her. She told me about a Tai Chi class she’s been taking and suggested it might take my mind off my hearing troubles.

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition and was once used in self-defense. Today it is considered a form of exercise and relaxation. It combines a series of graceful movements with controlled breathing. One is taught to focus on form, which helps to calm. Tai Chi can decrease stress, improve moods, and help with balance and agility, all things that those of us dealing with hearing loss need.

My friend attends a Saturday morning class, which is held in a building close to my home. We met there and, along with a group of eight others, we lined up, ready to go. The nice thing about Tai Chi is that you don’t need special clothes or equipment. Anyone who can amble and breathe can participate.

The instructor explained basic steps to the few of us who were new. He asked that we watch him as he synchronously swayed. We learned to flow in rhythm to soothing and gentle music. Periodically, he stopped and explained how a raised hand or leg could be used in defense, but mostly, he just let us lose ourselves in the soothing ancient dance.

The Tai Chi class wasn’t difficult. At first, I felt clumsy, because one must synchronously go from position to position. After watching the instructor and other more advanced students, I caught on. My form wasn’t perfect. At times my limbs moved against me instead of with me, but I was able to keep up.

I now understand why Tai Chi has been billed as meditation in motion. Traditional meditation did not work for me. An hour of sitting and doing nothing left me itching to move. Instead of forgetting the world around me, my thoughts would race with all that I had left undone. That was not the case with this ancient Chinese art. I had to concentrate.  While the music played, and my arms waved, my troubles drifted away, leaving me refreshed and relaxed.

When the class ended my friend asked me if I would go again.  “You bet,” I said, and thanked her for inviting me to share an hour with her. I went home feeling better, the burdens of the hearing world had lifted.

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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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