I’m 29, live in Lancashire and 6 months ago I was diagnosed as being Hard of Hearing. Up until that point, I identified as a hearing person (and went to mainstream schools) and I refused to acknowledge my hearing loss; it was only when my HoH partner (who has been HoH and lipreads for so long that I don’t think he realized until recently how things are getting to me) told me that the TV was up full whack and I still couldn’t work out what was being said on the TV did I finally “wake up” to my problem. I had always accused him of mumbling (as he also has a speech problem due to his cleft palate). So I did the Action on Hearing Loss test on my iPhone which e-mailed me a thing to take to my GP – he quickly looked in my ears and referred me straight over to ENT. I had my appointment within two weeks. A week later, I was handed hearing aids and expected just to get on with my life. It’s been hell since.
I have been backwards and forwards whilst they “fine tune” the hearing aids – and they still feel like they did when I originally got them. 6 months ago I was originally told I had mild conductive hearing loss; then 3 months ago it was moderate. I then received a letter saying that they wanted to see me in 3 months again, which took it to today. However it’s a Saturday and they didn’t have any Audiology staff in (or my usual consultant) and he said I need another urgent hearing test so to expect an appointment soon. I wanted answers today, and to discuss possible surgery; however I left with nothing, just a wasted day.
My hearing loss fluctuates (where I can go completely Deaf in one ear for up to 5 minutes, and is happening more and more) and I suffer from regular migraines. Things like amplified telephones don’t really work for me, as all it does is make things louder – I can’t pick up on the voice clearly. The pitch I can’t hear is low pitch, things like men’s voices and traffic – Stagecoach have nearly run me down on a couple of occasions by the bus stop where I work as I can’t hear it swinging in over the pavement to line up in the bay as it creeps up behind me.
I started learning BSL about 3 years ago; I originally wanted to learn with my partner but due to his illnesses he never enrolled – however I did. I’ve completed Level 1 and 2, and am now doing Level 3. Talk about fate; I wanted to be an interpreter, however now I want it so that I can communicate when D-Day arrives. I can understand what’s usually being signed to me in social situations, but then I can’t put it into words to translate for a non-signer – It’s hard to explain but I see it all as a large picture in my head that changes before I have chance to describe it.
The problem is that none of my hearing friends, nor my partner can sign. I’ve isolated myself. I can’t lipread, and there are no local classes. I can’t socialise with hearing people as I can’t hear what they are saying – all I hear is noise, and there’s only so many times you can ask them to repeat themselves. I now have more Deaf friends than hearing, and I love socialising with them; there is no hard work involved trying to pick out voice in a crowd. I can relax and be myself. I love it. I’m learning so much from my friends though, even things that you’d have thought Audiology would have explained to me.
Deaf organisations and a lot of Deaf people tend to forget about us HoH people – yes we are mentioned in their documents and most of us wear Hearing aids, however we don’t really get represented/acknowledged. We are often expected to be like a normal hearing person, and forgotton about. The thing is, really we are just like them – except our loss isn’t to such a bad degree. We aren’t eligible for DLA until our hearing loss hits a certain point; yet we still have similar access issues, and technological needs. I can’t claim yet.
I’m a very proud person, I don’t like to talk about how i’m feeling – but my hearing loss has got me so depressed. I’ve been so close to the edge. I would give anything to have my hearing back (apart from my sight, that I would give never give up).