A Hearing Loss Journey
By Marshalette McTyson
When I was a little girl in grade school is when I was first tested for hearing loss. I was never prescribed hearing aids and throughout my life coped with not properly hearing lessons or lectures, trying to fill in the blanks in conversations and missing the joke that isn’t as funny when repeated. As well, who can forget the classic, which was nodding my head in agreement, saying yes and smiling when I wasn’t supposed to provide a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.
As a child I never associated hearing loss and hearing aids with old age. There was always someone in my school, if not a few, that wore very visible hearing instruments. I guess they looked even bigger because they were being worn by small children. To me hearing aids were like glasses, they just made things easier, better. It wasn’t until I accepted a position at Hearing Solutions that I realized that most hearing aid wearers were part of the senior community.
For 33 years of my life I ‘coped’ with hearing loss. Who would’ve thought I would start working for a company that operates hearing healthcare clinics across the Greater Toronto Area? The funny thing is I didn’t even think about my own hearing loss and how it may or may not have deteriorated over all these years when I applied for my current position. However, it soon became clear to my co-workers that something just wasn’t right and maybe I should get a hearing test.
On Christmas Eve in 2010, I was prescribed hearing aids at our Lawrence Plaza clinic. I made the decision to get hearing instruments because I was concerned about maintaining my independence and my ability to function in the workplace.
I’ve come to understand that many of our patients who are told they have hearing loss are hesitant to buy hearing aids because as they get older their hearing is one more thing they’re losing and it’s hard to face that reality. However, I focused on what I would lose if I didn’t get hearing aids.
Being in my mid-thirties, I’m still fairly young and I want to be able to get together with friends and family without feeling like I’m not a part of the conversation or the fun. I want to be able to enjoy life and all that it has to offer. I’ve learned to be comfortable in my own solitude, and by extension in silence, but being in the company of those you love is quite precious. It would be a shame to miss out on the stories I may one day want to share with my children and grandchildren.
Furthermore, I’m a long way from retirement, so wearing my hearing aids means I can function appropriately in the workplace and avoid any misunderstandings. I don’t want anyone to think I’m incompetent because I didn’t complete a task or completed it incorrectly, when I just didn’t hear the instruction I was given. It’s a scenario that could be the difference between employment and sitting at home sending out resumes, wondering how the bills will be paid.
I can remember hearing sounds I wasn’t used to hearing, like the sounds the photocopier makes when I press the buttons or the coffee brewing. I never heard them before I started wearing hearing aids.
I feel empowered with my hearing aids, just as I suspect anyone who has the knowledge of sign language or a cochlear implant would feel. The key is getting the communication tools and devices that best work for you and using them to your advantage.