An audiologist is on the front line with those of us who've sustained hearing loss. And they work to make our lives easier and more productive, in spite of our audiogram levels. They tell us the naked truth about our hearing tests and then hand us tissues when we cry out our frustrations. They are masters of hearing devices and use their skills to program each one to our unique needs. Sometimes it's not enough. Like us, they are limited by our individual capacity to hear (or not hear) and the technology they have available. God bless the audiologists.
I've been asked to speak next week to a college class of audiology students. My school district's audiologist teaches the class and said my story was inspirational.
I've been trying to think of something to say about my hearing loss and how much my life has changed that's worthy of the word inspirational.
I haven't come up with much.
The truth is-- I don't see that I'm much different than anyone else who's faced adversity in their life. I cope and adapt and keep plodding on. And like so many others, I cry and whine and complain a lot, too. It's just the way it is.
I think the message I want to purvey to these future audiologists is how unfriendly the world is to anyone with any health conditions that make them "needy". And the deaf and hard of hearing are a fairly needy group. It's that "neediness" that's so unfortunate to me. Really. I hate it.
I need people to be patient and understanding. I need them to speak up. I need them to articulate and speak clearly. I need people to face me when they are speaking. I need people to take turns when having a conversation instead of jumping in while others are speaking. I need them to understand that even in the best conditions, I still miss about a fourth of the conversation and information that is spoken. I need closed captioning on TV and often in movies, too, and I can't talk to people while I'm trying to listen and read captions. I need special accommodations to continue working my job, and those accommodations are just as much a nuisance to me as they are to others. I need people to understand how utterly exhausting hearing and listening has become, so when I take my hearing aids out at night for a break, I need them to stop telling me to put my hearing aids on. I need them to know that hearing aids and a cochlear implant don't "fix" my hearing, and I am still hard-of-hearing with them.
It can be maddening, at times.
Enter the audiologist. Mine has saved my sanity -- more than once. She assures me often that I am not crazy or needy or demanding or whiny. I'm deaf, that's all. She's my lifeline. I couldn't have made it without her.
And I want these audiology students to know how important they will be to their patients, too.