Four Months With Dana

You may not remember but about a year or so ago I wrote a post freaking out about a bunch of dizzy episodes I had, coupled with a frustrating lack of hearing.

Well, praise God, it’s not Meniere’s syndrome. The downside is that I am still not allowed a dog but the upside is that I don’t have an illness which an audiology friend described as ‘something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy’.

It’s all rather fascinating really. I hadn’t realised how different my world looks and sounds (or doesn’t sound). It’s a very bright world, even overcast days can be uncomfortable at times and everything has residual shadows when I move my eyes – except that the shadows aren’t darkness but light. Were I a dedicated con artist or a New Age fanatic (there but for the grace of God go I), I might convince myself and others that I have the gift of aura reading.

I don’t. I have the gift of migraines.

Either that or the dustbin nearby has the purest soul I’ve ever seen…

The dizziness still comes and goes but apparently that’s just how the migraines work; dizziness instead of pain. It could be worse.

As for the hearing loss? That’s fascinating too. At least the audiologist seemed to be enjoying it.

As far as I can gather, most people with hearing loss lose their higher register as they get older. That means the higher pitched sounds like voices, music, birdsong, and whatever.

Nope. My lower registers are poor. That means that my dad probably doesn’t mumble (sorry dad!) and the pastor’s son isn’t as softly spoken as he seems. It also means that those earphones I threw out because one side always broke were probably working fine.

So what was the solution?

A hearing aid!

I cannot tell you how excited I am by this. A lot of people don’t understand why I was so happy about this at the time. Maybe distress was the more appropriate reaction since hearing aids equate with disability in most people’s minds and at 21 and the carefree young thing I am, my vanity should really be wounded by the idea.

My answer to this is to tell people to go read up on the Meniere’s UK website. You’d be thrilled too:

  1. that the problem is something so easily fixable in comparison and
  2. that you were able to hear again.

So back in November, a danalogic i-fit was fitted (why isn’t it an ear-fit?).

I didn’t know anything about it except that it might help me to hear a bit better and that was extremely exciting. So I thought I’d share a bit about it here so that if anyone out there is in the same position then it might help them and anyone that’s not might find it interesting (but probably not).

When Dana was first fitted, it was very strange to be hearing things that I don’t think I’d been hearing properly for a long time. It was like listening to badly recorded voices and everyone was shouting.

Upon first discovering that you have hearing loss, you may also discover that you have, in the meantime, become a surprisingly good lip reader.

All the same, it was strange and disconcerting and really quite uncomfortable having something pushed so far into my ear and I was painfully aware of it for several weeks. Having no volume control meant that I couldn’t wear it all the time because it was simply too overwhelming. It also made my ear quite sore until I got used to it.

These days, it only comes out to sleep.

Because I don’t have a great lower register, I struggled to process for well over a month, closer to two. The deeper sounds tend to include things like car engines, the buzz of conversation, ticking clocks, drums in music, and other sounds like footfall and air con. Your brain normally filters most of this out but I found it incredibly difficult. It’s only in the couple of months that I’ve been relearning to effectively filter out the background noise. It was fuzzy and indistinguishable at first but you just have to put up and push through. You get there in the end.

My balance has improved noticeably (to me at least) and I can now walk across a dark room without falling over. That may not seem like a big deal to you but it is *grins*

So it’s all pretty good. It takes time but you get used to it. Half the time I don’t even realise that I have Dana in and neither does anyone else. She’s pretty subtle.

Be warned, people can be a little odd when they do realise. I adjusted the setting to hear someone better the other day and they gave me the but you’re so normal look.You get over it.

Just a note: losing your hearing doesn’t impair your cognitive function.

I’ve been asked as well why I need a hearing aid. I love that question.

Because I can’t hear very well without it.

People ask such silly questions sometimes.

Anyway. It has been fun and exciting and when you discover the loop system in a place… Oh my days! It’s brilliant! Now I’m used to it, I love the sound of the buses and trains going by and hearing the clock ticking away and the chatter of people at church.

Don’t get me wrong, ir has taken some time to get used to and it has been a struggle in many ways, but when I’m overwhelmed I just think of the first time I walked into church and could hear every single word the preacher said, and the first time we sang and I didn’t have to strain to hear the lads singing the harmony and it reminds me to be thankful.

I love the magpies playing in the trees outside our flat. I enjoy how much easier conversation has become. And I might not be allowed a dog of my own, but I can hear the neighbour’s puppy playing on the green.

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