I have just returned from a most exciting lecture about the new directions of the new generation of cochlear implants. These are devices that are implanted to allow the transfer of energy directly to the Auditory Nerve, due to severe damage to the cochlear’s function. (Thank you @Phonak). Besides the amazing technologies that are being developed to ensure many people have a hearing future, I was struck by how excited children (and their parents) and adults can really be about the pleasure of hearing again. From hearing a doorbell to hearing a dog snore- there were stories about how sound had re-entered lives and how much it meant.
It made me think about the worldwide stigma associated with hearing loss, and wearing hearing aids. I remember a time when children were teased about their glasses- to rectify the human condition of damaged eyesight. Yet today, glasses are a natural part of everyday life- and barely noticed by the non-spectacled. This is taking longer with hearing aids, and I wish that it were different, because the world of sound is so rich and interesting that even the mildest of hearing losses cause us to miss out.
It isn’t always easy to shift identity and embrace change. A person who has some hearing loss has already shifted their self-image (they do not function as easily as they once did). I always have a feeling of elation when a patient decides to shift again, when they reach that point and say:
“It is there, and I am going to manage it and love every bit of extra hearing I can get from the rehabilitation”.