Hearing Loss? Think Opportunity.

“Hearing loss is such an adventure,” a new acquaintance wrote to me not long ago.

This is one comment I’d never heard before.

Wow, I thought, she really has reached that elusive state of acceptance. Many people talk about the hearing loss “journey,” from denial to anger to bargaining to depression to acceptance.

But an adventure. That suggests exciting new opportunities and challenges.

My friend had had a severe drop in her hearing in her 30’s. “Many doors I had intended to open and travel through closed.” That happens to people with severe or sudden hearing loss. Career pathways can be blocked. If you always wanted to be a commercial airline pilot, that’s probably not going to happen. But most career and social obstacles simply have to be navigated in a more strategic way.

My friend also talked about the doors that opened because of her hearing loss. She became an active member of the Hearing Loss Association of America, HLAA (then called SHHH – Self Help for the Hard of Hearing). She met many new people, she became involved in advocacy to effect change, to ensure that the principles embodied in the American With Disabilities Act applied to people with hearing loss as well as to those with more obvious disabilities.

She traveled as part of her advocacy work, she educated people and shared information. She navigated the shoals of technology, she encountered stigma and by example helped defeat it. And of course she struggled to hear.

“To be honest,” she wrote, “my adventures with hearing loss have not all been enjoyable, however they have challenged me to learn things I would never have been interested in otherwise.”

In this holiday season, I want to celebrate the benefits that can come with disability, the intense satisfaction of overcoming obstacles, the sense of achievement that comes with learning about new technology, the gratification of helping to effect change for the good.

The hearing loss journey is an ongoing one. Hearing may continue to deteriorate but opportunities and technology continue to improve. The challenge to push yourself to try one more new device, to venture out to one more event, can sometimes seem overwhelming. But from now on, I’m going to think of it as an adventure.

6 thoughts on “Hearing Loss? Think Opportunity.

  1. I agree. It’s an “adventure” I never saw coming, but adventure nevertheless. Being the first in Washington State to get the Baha Attract certainly made my ENT happy and me too. Just realized the other day that I almost but not quite take it for granted. Didn’t think I’d be involved in starting a new chapter of HLAA in my area and that’s in the works now. Advocacy? New to me, but I’m game. You’re never to old to start a new journey.

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  2. Living with hearing loss is an adventure because you never know which new situation
    you may need to cope with. I’ve had a progressive and now profound loss for more than 45 years. Having a sense of humor helps a lot. One of my favorite lines when my batteries go dead in the middle of a conversation is “The number you have reached is temporarily disconnected.” Although the listener may be surprised when you remove your aid and
    replace the batteries, laughter that defuses the tension usually follows. Try it! It works.

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    • The positive outlook on deafness and hearing loss is now known as Deaf Gain. A Google search teveals numerous articles, a 2-minute You Tube video and even an entire book. As others have noted, we appreciate various benefits that come with being deaf or having severe hearing loss: unique bonds of friendship with others like us; shared views of the world around us; greater sensitivity to people coping with various disabilities; common interest in building a more accommodating society, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your site. This time I must say, I found the uplifting attitude terrific. It’s so nice to read about people who deal with this positively.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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