”Why don’t you just put your hearing aids in?” … This question is always followed by an eye roll on my part- mostly through annoyance. Annoyance at knowing the views surrounding hearing aids are misunderstood. It implies everything is better and ‘fixed’ when hearing aids are used which for most individuals living with a degree of hearing loss isn’t usually the case.
Don’t get me wrong my hearing aids have given me the ability to hear more than I ever would without them but by no means do I hear everything. In fact sometimes I feel like I hear less..
I tried for a while to explain to my family and friends what it’s like going from living in a world with very little noise to being thrown into what most class as ‘normal’ noise but to me is a (I could say deafening noise but that feels a little too ironic) world full of distractions and headache. There doesn’t seem to be a way for people who don’t live with some degree of hearing loss to fully comprehend the amount of adjustment needed to process this change.
Trying to focus on one person talking while having what feels like a million distractions can be impossible at times. For me, not hearing can feel like the better option. It’s probably hard to imagine a world without ‘background noise’, you know the noise you hear everyday without knowing you’re even hearing it. Cars driving past, the sound of the wind blowing leaves across the floor, rustling of shopping bags or the whispers of everyones conversations from around you. Non of that is there without my hearing aids and it’s replaced by silence.
A silence which is quickly turned into thundering noise and emotions especially when hearing aids are first used. And I say first used, even after 10 years I still struggle and decide not to wear them in crowed or busy areas. It’s overwhelming and certainly for me can make me feel like I am missing more because of all the distractions I am suddenly confronted with and have to process.
My point is, suggesting I ‘just put my hearing aids in’ while I’m struggling to follow a conversation isn’t helpful no matter how good the intentions are. It does get easier to adapt to living with background noise but to hear or not to hear…. that is my choice.