I woke up one morning and my ears would not stop ringing. No matter how hard I tried to ignore the sound, it would not stop. I thought that I had caused irrevocable damage to my hearing and immediately began to blame myself for being so irresponsible in the past. It was a negative reaction and I feared what the future may hold. Why did I listen to my iPod all day during high school, why did I go closer to the speaker during gigs, and most importantly why did I never consider the effects of my hearing health?
During that early part of the week, my ears continued to ring on and off, but I chose to remain isolated. When I turned on Netflix, I knew that I had to switch on the subtitles because the ringing was making me nervous & frustrated, and I didn’t want to mishear anything. When I went out to dinner with friends that week, I made sure that I was facing them with the better ear. When someone suggested going to a pub I knew was much louder and not suited for conversation, I suggested we go to a more ‘intimate’ one. It dawned on me, this is what many people inadvertently experience every day and don’t seek help for – the average person takes up to seven years to get their hearing checked, even when they know that something isn’t quite right.
As the week went on, I knew that I didn’t want to delay this further anymore. Lucky for me, I work at a place that has hearing support readily available – but I still didn’t speak to anyone immediately, because I wanted to pretend that nothing was wrong. My audiologist explained to me that I had built up a lot of earwax and this might be the leading factor causing my ringing, and this had happened a few years ago. When I had my ears cleaned out, I felt relief because the ringing had immediately stopped, but unfortunately this is not the case for many and I count myself lucky here. When I went to get my hearing assessment just to confirm that everything was okay (which it was) I was excited by the prospect of making better choices and actually using the noise restriction settings on my smartphone.
It was important to know that I didn’t have to face this alone. If I hadn’t been working with Better Hearing Australia VIC, I would have continued searching on Google and kept on self-diagnosing myself, believing that there was something terribly wrong, instead of simply taking it one step at a time, and sometimes it all comes down to how you choose to react to situations. The main things that I learnt from my experience were that:
- You are not alone; your family & friends are there to support you
- Your audiologist is there to guide your journey
- It might not be as bad as you think, and if it is worse than expected, there are manageable solutions
- Small changes now can have lasting effects on your future
Without places like Better Hearing Australia VIC and other independent organisations, we could find ourselves struggling to comprehend the complexity of hearing loss and the necessary stages available. Ringing in the ears, not being able to hear conversation well, pain around the ears; don’t think of these issues as tomorrow’s problem, think of them as a step towards a clear and healthy future.
For those with prevalent hearing loss issues, I cannot understand the impact it has on your life, but what that week taught me was how important it is to not only take care of your own hearing but to always be as supportive, encouraging and understanding of people with hearing loss.
Written by Faik Demir
This is a personal story that does not intend to understand the lives of people with hearing loss; rather it aims to establish the importance of creating awareness & encourage preventative measures for all people.
The views in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Better Hearing Australia VIC.