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Lipreading Awareness Week – Living with Hearing Loss

Posted on by Lesley

A bit about me first. I noticed I was losing my hearing in the 1980’s I was only in my 30s. This took me by surprise as I hadn’t realised how bad my hearing was getting. I went to a local hearing aid shop to get it checked out thinking I was mistaken but the chap in the shop gave me my audiogram and said go to see your GP. I was then referred to an ENT specialist who referred me to audiology and I got my first set of hearing aids.

I, like most other people, thought oh great I will get my hearing back – WRONG. What most people still don’t realise is that it only enhances what you still have it doesn’t give you back what you have lost. That was a shock to me too.

Fast forward to today and I am now completely deaf in my left ear and have 90Db loss in my right ear so need the hearing aid to be able to carry on. I also have tinnitus in both ears. I am on the waiting list for a hearing dog.

There are no “free” sign language classes for anyone like myself who may need them due to worsening hearing or if someone suddenly loses their hearing completely.

I struggle still even after 30+ years on a day to day basis even with my new partners help (he is disabled and has been since birth). There are days when I just want to shut myself away take my hearing aid out and have a “silent” day.

I have had to change my work life completely as I was a legal secretary but with my hearing being as bad as it is now I just cannot cope with the audio typing and telephone work.

I am a lipreading teacher but due to the fact that I had only managed to get one class I have had to give this up due to it being uneconomical for me to continue. I do miss it!!

I have been out of work since July last year and have struggled to find a role using my extensive administration skills but with no telephone work. All the administration jobs I have seen require you to answer the telephone to customers – this is extremely difficult especially with accents both regional and foreign.

However, there is a light on the horizon I have recently done a 2 week work experience programme with a local firm who don’t need the majority of their staff to use the telephone and I have just been told that I am being put forward for a role there – fingers crossed everyone.

My top tips for someone who has an acquired hearing loss:

• Don’t lose heart – there is hope!
• Try a lipreading class or a Hard of Hearing Group – being with others like yourself really boosts your confidence.
• If you work – get Access to Work in they can help it was just unfortunate that the equipment recommended by them didn’t work for me or my employer.
• If you have waited until your hearing is really bad then try this – (The audiologist won’t tell you)
• Put your hearing aid in for half an hour take it out for an hour then put it back in etc etc
• Do this for at least a week then swap it around and put the aid in for an hour and take it out for half an hour
• Gradually increase the time you have your aid in your ear until you can wear it all day
Your brain cannot cope with the sudden change from not hearing to hearing it needs to adjust.

Also this will also give you more experience putting your aid in and out of your ear you will get better at it I promise.

If you don’t feel the hearing aid is adjusted correctly for you or if you have any problems with your hearing aid – GO BACK TO AUDIOLOGY – it’s their job to get it right.

Don’t be afraid to take someone with you it is your right to have someone with you so that if you miss something someone else is there to pick up what has been said. If you can’t do this have them write down what they are saying so that you can read it take your own notepad and pen if you want. Don’t struggle trying to make out what they are saying. Make them face you – believe me audiologists and ENT specialists are the worst facing away from you when talking to you.

Here’s a tip to make them do it – don’t answer them until they do or keep saying pardon until they do!!

If it starts to irritate the skin behind your ear use a small amount of Vaseline or whatever you find works for you until the skin stops being irritated.

I have had hearing aids since the 1980s as I have said and there are still days when the inside of my ear drives me mad itching so don’t worry about that it will be okay there is nothing wrong.

I got so fed up of people not talking to my face that I have made my own badge as the small ones are not big enough and people started to wish me Happy Birthday!!!

If you want to chat to me please get Lesley to contact me and I will happily meet somewhere to chat to you.

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