How I got my hearing back and enriched my life

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By Vivianne M. Silver

My new life in stereophonic sound began when I realized I often asked my husband to repeat a word I missed, to raise the volume on our television, or I had to switch ears when the telephone rang.

But it was my son Jonathan who urged his father “to do something –Mom often asks us to repeat what we say to her and a few weeks ago, when I called her, she actually hung up on me – not having heard me speak.”

The time had come to have a hearing test. My husband arranged for one at the Jewish General Hospital where he works. After a thorough examination, the doctor recommended audiology tests.

So began the realization that I might have hearing loss. After an intensive battery of tests by an audiologist, we sat in her office and reviewed the results. The moment it was confirmed that I had hearing loss in both ears, I cried.

I am aware that we are not invincible but facing a loss, no matter how small, is tough. The hospital then gave me a list of Hearing Aid Centers. I chose one at Cavendish Mall, as it is near my home, and made an appointment.

I was seen by a Wendy, an efficient and compassionate technician. She patiently explained all the technology that would now be part of my life. More tears as the screen showed the facts. It was however, time for some emotional intelligence and acceptance on my part.

A couple of weeks later, my hearing aids arrived. Back at the Center, the technician patiently guided me through the process. The door to my new life in stereophonic sound opened. The hearing aids cost $3200.

The Quebec government pays for one, $1600, the patient pays for the other. This logic escapes me since most people do need two hearing aids. I established a routine of placing my hearing aids on both my ears in the morning and became conscious of the changes. — The sound of paper crinkling, the sound of water tinkling, the sound of people speaking too loudly in restaurants.

Wendy had re-assured me that in time it would all settle into a comfortable hearing zone.

Thankfully, the sound of music and that of my piano playing were not affected. My family rejoiced in not having to repeat what they were saying. Setting an example of acceptance for my children and grandchildren gave me comfort.

At the end of the day, writing about my hearing routine, cleaning my accessories, and placing them back safely in their box worked just fine. This lasted five days. On the fifth day, I decided not to wear them first thing in the morning, fearing that with my tennis game, a ball might dislodge them. I did put them on later.

I first went to my community garden patch to pick some of my flourishing rhubarb plants as a surprise for a dear friend who had promised to make muffins. At lunch, as I was putting my hat back on, I noticed the absence of my left hearing aid. Panic set in. I retraced my steps to no avail.

The car, parking lot, bathroom, bank, cleaners, grocery store, back to the garden –even the compost bin where discarded leaves of my rhubarb plant now lay. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

That’s life, I finally said to myself. Penitently, I returned to the center.

Thankfully, Wendy was there. She reassured me that it could be replaced at half the original cost (still, quite costly). The lesson for me was painful but I learned not to be so cavalier about this new process and more aware of checking that my aids are securely in their rightful place at all times.

The upside of my hearing aid saga is realizing that the quality of my life has indeed improved.

My family members do not have to repeat their comments. I can hear all that is being said at the movies, at a conference, or when watching television.

Most relevant for me is that as a volunteer docent at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, I am now confident I can guide my assigned groups without being concerned at missing comments and conversation.

Ultimately, just as my eyesight is helped with my glasses, my hearing is improved with my hearing aids. I can only feel grateful for the gift of our modern-day technology.

Vivianne M. Silver lives in Côte St. Luc.

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